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Know your neighbours before you buy:

Sometimes one of the selling points a seller gives me about their home is “the neighbours are great.” It’s something that many of us take for granted and don’t pay attention to when we buy a home. It most definitely can blight the enjoyment of your home when you realize that you are in the wrong neighbourhood or living next door to a disruptive or nosey neighbour. There is not much you can do about it once you buy the home, so you are best to do your investigative work before hand.

Your realtor can give you an overview of the neighbourhood, telling you about nearby amenities and a general feel for the demographic of the area. For example, you may be looking for more mature residents to be the majority, or alternatively, more young families. You may want a condo complex with only a few tenants, or you may be looking for the exact opposite with a neighbourhood known for auxiliary apartments and renters. The realtor will also make you aware of upcoming zoning changes or new construction of highways or housing that may affect the enjoyment of your home and the resale value.

Some neighbourhoods and complexes have their own websites now, where you can learn about events and get some information about the atmosphere. Be sure to check the local police station website or in person to find out about traffic problems, and crime statistics and compare to other neighbourhoods. Make sure to ask for an analysis of the statistics, as some of the most exclusive neighbourhoods in major cities suffer from high crime rates, from auto theft, not violent crimes, so a quick explanation may calm your fears, especially if you drive an old clunker that no one would want to steal!

Of course, there is nothing better than first hand information so I always ask my clients to do a drive by of any property they are interested in, and at various times of day. They can get a feel for traffic issues, and the neighbourhood character and they may even stop and ask a few questions of people as they rake their lawns or walk their dogs. People love to talk about their homes, so don’t be surprised if you have to turn off the car and settle in for a long chat as you may learn a lot from the people in the neighbourhood.

BY SANDRA RINOMATO