Choosing a Neighborhood
Some buyers I work with already have a good idea of where they would like to live, what their price point is and the type of home they would like to purchase. On the other hand, some buyers find themselves overwhelmed by the process of selecting a neighborhood and need help. This section is intended for both groups. New buyers who believe they have chosen a neighborhood may not have considered all their needs and might find this section useful. For those who are unsure, this section will give you some pointers on how to make a decision.
What is your Price Point? There is no point in deciding on a neighborhood until you are sure you can find homes in your price range. This is where getting pre-approved for a mortgage gives you an edge over the less prepared buyers in the market.
Decide what type of home you need? Seems like a no-brainer but this can really affect what neighborhoods suit your needs. If you are searching for a condo in the Shaughnessy area of Vancouver, you may have a hard time finding enough of them for sale simply because there are very few in that specific neighborhood. You need to align your housing needs with your future neighborhood.
What city do you want to call home? Many of us are struggling with the issue of affordability in the Metro Vancouver area and may need to consider other cities nearby. The good news is that many cities are upgrading their infrastructure to accommodate growing populations. Cities like Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, for example, will be connected to Vancouver like never before thanks to the upcoming Evergreen line. Keep an eye out for major infrastructure projects that will improve interconnectivity between cities. These are often areas that will see rising property prices in the future.
What are your needs for transportation? Some areas have better transit networks than others. If you currently rely on the skytrain for your daily commute then you will need to find an area along a skytrain line. If you like to go on foot, then you will likely want an area that has a commercial core with easy access to shops and stores. You can use the walk score map above to determine which areas have the best walk-ability.
What neighborhood amenities do you want? Easy access to restaurants, groceries, dog parks, pubs, shopping centres, schools, fitness centres are common needs that I hear from clients. Creating a list of your "must haves" will go a long way to shortening your list of potential areas.
Schedule a neighborhood tour: Once you have shortened the list, it's time to meet the neighbors! Take the transit type you use most often and explore different neighborhoods. Walk around the parks, order a pizza at a local restaurant, chit chat with the locals and take it all in. You'd be amazed how much you can learn from spending a weekend afternoon touring an area.
What are your personal preferences: You may want to do some soul searching to see what area fits your personality. Are you an outgoing person who frequently meets friends at the local watering hole? Are you quieter and feel more comfortable in a peaceful, family oriented area with little traffic? Again, each neighborhood, and in some cases, each block will have its own unique character.