How You Know You've Found "The One"
How will you know when you have found the perfect house? Read on to find out the top 10 signs that will tell you whether or not to "sign here" or run for the hills!
1. It has the 3 L's: Location, Location, Location! If the house is in your most desired neighbourhood, in a great school district, on the perfect block, and has an amazing lot...jump on it! These things cannot change. So when the market rises and falls, just remember that no one can take that stellar location away from you!
2. It's in the right school district: The right school is very important to many buyers. Naturally, parents want their children to go to the best school, so top-ranked schools can drive the neighbourhood's average home value up, as well as keep the value of those homes stable. Even if you don't have children, you should always be aware of how schools are doing in your desired neighbourhoods.
3. It's in a great position on the lot: Make sure your future home is located in a place on the lot that allows for safety (ex. away from large trees), quiet (ex. set back far enough from the road), and privacy (ex. not having your master bedroom overlooking your neighbour's family room). These things might not bother you, but keep in mind that they might scare away future buyers when you choose to sell again.
4. The crime rates are low in the area: It's a good idea to check out crime rates in the neighbourhood. In London, Ontario, you can easily view a map of reported crimes here. If there is more crime than you expected in your desired neighbourhood, don't worry! Crime is everywhere, especially petty crime. If you are unfamiliar with the area and are still concerned, talk to your real estate agent.
5. There is a positive neighbourhood character: Do your research and visit the neighbourhood at different time of the day, at different times of the week. Drive around, take a walk, and talk to the neighbours! Listen and watch for traffic, check out the general upkeep of the street, and meet the neighbours' dogs. Make sure you go in with your eyes and ears wide open!
6. The home is in a location that has reasonable "walkability": Although London continues to grow outward in all directions, many buyers still view walkability a key factor in their search for a home. The importance of walkability is even reflected in property searches on Realtor.ca, where a walkability score of 0-100 is calculated for each property. Having the option to walk to work, to school, to the store, or to meet a friend for coffee, is increasingly valued as many people try focus on healthy habits and being eco-conscious.
7. The house needs a bit of work: You always want to avoid buying the best house on the block. Why? Because there is very little, if any, room for your investment to grow. You would be paying a premium for the improvements on the property already done, so it is smarter to buy one of the worst houses on the block, where you can make your own improvements to add value!
8. Or the house needs a lot of work: If you had set out to buy a fixer-upper and you know exactly what you're getting yourself into, way to go! But make sure you either have the necessary expertise to renovate yourself, or have enlisted the help of professionals to hold your hand through the entire process. Do your homework and meet with the necessary professionals (ex. Home Inspector, Contractor, Architect, etc.) BEFORE you buy the house to determine the scope of work that is needed and able to be done. Also, check out the local zoning and building codes to make sure your plans will comply with them.
9. The home will hold its value: If your neighbourhood is known for holding its long-term value or investment potential, your real estate agent should be aware of it. On top of this, be sure to find ways to add value, or at least be certain that your potential home will hold its value. Ask yourself: "Is this a seller's market or a buyer's market?" and "What could happen to the value of this home if the market drastically changed tomorrow?" Do your homework on the value of homes in the neighbourhood compared to those of surrounding neighbourhoods.
10. Your taxes and fees are affordable: When thinking about buying your dream home, don't forget about what the property taxes will cost you. Homes situated on corner lots, and in areas of high demand will have higher taxes. Fees may include monthly condominium fees that cover such expenses as landscaping, parking, building maintenance, etc. Make sure that when you are budgeting for your monthly expenses, you account for these taxes and potential fees.