Pfanntastic Home Buying Handbook Chapter 2 – Location Is Everything
One of the greatest factors in regards to overall costs of property is in the neighborhood or area itself.
In real estate, location is everything and depending on what your personal preferences are, you should expect the costs of properties to change based on location, even when all other features and factors are similar.
For example, if you choose to live just outside of a city zone, a property of the same age and size could be as much as $50,000 cheaper than a property inside of a city zone.
You will also want to consider what is available in different areas, based on what is most important to you. Are there grocery stores local to the neighborhoods you are evaluating? Are there late night conveniences? Entertainment? Doctors? Schools?
All of these factors will influence your decision to buy within certain areas, and if you have small children, you’ll also want to consider the quality of the schools in the same way that if you require regular medical treatment, you’ll want to make sure that there are medical facilities near your home.
For many home buyers, location is the most important component when choosing a property and it’s also the key factor in which they spend the most time evaluating. You want the conveniences that are of most importance to you!
If you are considering purchasing a property outside of a city zone based on the savings, you’ll also want to make sure that the lower property purchase price range is justified based on the costs to commute.
On the other hand, if you are interested in living within city limits, you will want to pay attention to additional costs and factors such as metered water, sewage costs, pet restrictions and any by-laws that you may be affected by.
For example, in many cities there are bylaws preventing residents from having too many pets, and believe it or not, there are even bylaws that indicate what color you can paint your home!
So be careful in choosing a neighborhood just based on cost alone. You will want to discuss any bylaws or restrictions applied to an area with Peter and Linda Pfann before making an offer on a property.
When considering different locations, you will want to try to spend some time in each area, so that you are able to get a personal feel for the neighborhood.
Consider staying in a nearby bed & breakfast or a hotel for a weekend, so that you can explore the area, walk through the neighborhoods, visit nearby attractions, restaurants, parks, and even speak with the locals.
While many people overlook this simple step, it can really make a difference in helping you choose an area where you feel safe, relaxed and truly connected to.
If you have children, you will also want to include them in making your decision. Spend some family time around the different areas that you are considering so that there are few surprises when you move in.
Pay attention the proximity of nearby schools, whether there are local events for your children based on their interests, whether you will be close to amenities or areas that you’ll visit frequently, and whether you can really see yourself living in an area for a long period of time.
Some Internet based resources can be very useful as well
- www.pfanntastic.com (Peter and Linda Pfann's website has a number of pages dedicated to community information, and also offer a large number of links to websites that provide a lot of local and regional resources.
- www.walkscore.com is a website, where you can enter any address in the North America, and the site will show you how close this address is to the typical amenities like stores, doctors etc.
- www.cfax1070.comlisten.php?callsign=CFAXAM is a local Victoria radio talk station always offering a great insight to what is going on in the Greater Victoria Area.
- www.timescolonist.com Victoria's Local daily news paper website offers a great local perspective of everything important to everything you ever wanted to know about Greater Victoria.
- www.maps.google.ca from this great mapping site, enter any address then on the left side of the screen there is a more button, click on it and select street view, and you can literally travel up and down any street in North America and become familiar with your new neighbourhood.
- www.victoriasnapshot.com A great tool to see all real estate market activity in any area of your choosing in and around Greater Victoria
When considering whether to purchase a home in the country, city or suburbs, weigh the pro’s and con’s of all three areas, to gain a better idea as to what is suitable for your family.
City living carries many different benefits, including:
- Quick & Easy access to local events.
- Extended business hours for many different amenities.
- More options for stores, restaurants and schools.
- Public transportation.
- Typically offers more cultural events, concerts, attractions.
Just the same, there are also cons to living in the city as well, including:
- Higher population.
- Less property.
- Higher housing costs.
- Higher taxes.
- Higher crime rate.
- Higher pollution rate.
- Limiting housing available.
If considering buying a house in the country, you will also want to weigh the pro’s and con’s including:
- More property available.
- Lower tax costs.
- Less population.
- Not as many zoning issues or bylaws.
- Overall cost of living is lower.
- Fewer amenities available.
- Further commute to work and shopping.
- Fewer schools & businesses to choose from.
- Issues dealing with wells, septic systems, etc
- Less entertainment, cultural events.
Other Location Considerations
- Weather & Climate
- Road conditions
- Location of property in the neighborhood, and
- Room to expand
You should be thinking ahead in terms of the weather. If you are planning on living in the country, for example, you should pay attention to possible flooding, snow, power outages, and other weather that could affect you getting to work.
If the road is a dirt road, you should ask if the region will clear the road and how often they will do so. This is another advantage of living in the city because you could always use public transportation if you do not want to drive.
The location of the property is also important. If the property is located at the bottom of a slope, you may have flooding issues after a rainstorm.
Also, as your family grows, you may need more room. You should find property that can hold a home addition if necessary. Investing in a home requires a great deal of thought and planning. Even if you do not have a family, you should find a home that will allow you to grow as your interests change.
If you are planning on taking out a mortgage, you will find it difficult to move abruptly in the event you discover that an area isn’t quite what you expected, so the more time you spend personally evaluating the neighborhoods and areas you are interested in, the more prepared you will be to make an informed decision.
Another important thing to keep in mind is the crime rate of specific areas. You can identify and potential problems or higher crime rates by researching areas online. You can also talk to Peter and Linda Pfann about any concerns you have over crime rates, and make sure to compare crime rates to other neighborhoods. You also want to pay attention to your ‘gut instinct’ and how you personally feel about an area, when it comes to choosing a property:
Does a certain neighborhood give you a sense of calm? Does it provoke a positive feeling? Good memories? Does it seem clean and friendly?
And depending on your lifestyle, you will also want to pay attention to other contributing factors including:
- Is there high speed Internet available?
- Is there cable television available?
- How about public water supply, sewer versus Well water and septic systems.
- How much construction is going on or might happen in the future.
- Are there ponds, rivers, lakes or oceans nearby?
- Are there 24-hour conveniences? (drug stores, grocery stores, etc)
- Is the neighborhood aesthetically pleasing?
- Is there garbage pickup?
- What is the average value of a home in that neighborhood?
All of these things will play a part in helping you to decide whether a specific property is suitable for your family, so take the time to research the different locations and start taking notes regarding your findings.
Having this information readily available will provide you with a snapshot of the different properties and locations that you are considering, making it easier to come to a decision later on.
Tomorrow we will cover how to go about selecting a Realtor to work with, guess who should be on the top of your list.....