It's important to know what qualities you want in a home before you start looking. Narrow down your priorities to speed up the search. Here are some things to keep in mind.
When you choose your next neighbourhood, consider location:
Compare home prices to your budget
Check the proximity to work, family and friends
Evaluate the access to transit and road networks
Look for amenities, such as parks, shopping, recreation, schools and health care facilities
Before you commit to a neighbourhood, visit the area during the day, at night and on the weekend to see the community at work, rest and play.
Bedrooms, baths, kitchen and more
Once you have a general neighborhood in mind, survey the homes available and narrow down the features important to you.
What size home do you want? How many bedrooms and baths do you need? Is a finished basement important? Do you want an upgraded, eat-in kitchen? Are you looking for outdoor living space? Is parking required? Do you prefer a single floor or multi-level dwelling?
These answers will help narrow down your search.
Heating and cooling
Heating and cooling costs are a large part of your home expenses. Do you prefer oil, gas or electric? Are you partial to forced air, radiators or baseboards? The type and amount of insulation, plus the exterior finish (brick, aluminum siding or wood), also impact heating and cooling costs.
Taxes, zoning and development
Pay a fact-finding visit to the local city hall. Find out what the property taxesOpens a popup. are for a specific property or the general area. Are there any infrastructure projects planned for the neighbourhood? These might include road repairs or repaving, curbs, gutters or sidewalks, sewer and watermain upgrades or other new amenities. Review any development plans, applications and zoning changes under consideration. Ask about zoning or by-law restrictions. For example, are you allowed to run a home-based business?
When you find a home you like, hire a certified home inspector to examine the infrastructure for damage or age-related problems:
Basement (signs of water damage)
Exterior walls (damaged bricks or siding)
Heating and air conditioning (furnace age and type)
Plumbing (type of pipes and fixtures)
Roof (type, condition and age)
Water, sewer or septic (type and age)
Windows (type, condition and age)
Wiring and electrical panel (wire type and amperage)
Evaluate future potential
If a home isn’t everything you want right now, are you willing to improve it down the road? If you have do-it-yourself skills, you can make the necessary upgrades. Sometimes a professional contractor can do the job for less than you'd pay for a fully upgraded home. Will the home transition with you as your needs change? Or do you plan to sell in the short term and invest theequityOpens a popup. in another property better suited to your needs? Consider these as you pick your next home.
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