Buying a home this spring? Read this checklist

Spring is prime house-hunting season, and while properties can move quickly, especially in hot markets like Vancouver, it’s wise to think carefully about each property before making an offer (and get pre-approved for a mortgage before you even start attending open houses or contacting real estate agents). Will the property suit your needs now and in the future? Will it require a much longer commute or major repairs?

Here are some questions to consider as you’re comparing properties.

Home Considerations

  • What is the overall condition of the property? Does it feel welcoming? A fixer-upper may have a lower list price but can cost more overall once you’ve added in materials and sweat equity or labour costs.
  • What is the square footage? If you outgrow a detached home, you may be able to build an addition (at considerable cost, of course), where you can not add to a condo.
  • What is the age of the home and the appliances? If it’s a condo, have you reviewed the building’s depreciation report?
  • Do you have any outdoor space? A yard or balcony? What is the condition of that space?
  • Do you have enough closet space and storage? If it’s a condo, is there additional storage available? Remember, you can often get creative to maximize your storage space or add additional storage.
  • What is the parking situation? Is there a secure parkade, a garage or street parking only? Is there an additional fee for parking or will you get a deeded parking spot with your home purchase? Where can guests park?
  • Do you get decent cell phone coverage in the home?
  • What is the laundry situation? Does the home have en-suite laundry? Is a washer and dryer included with the property or will you need to buy them?
  • What are your utility costs likely to be?
  • How much are property taxes?
  • Are there renters currently living in the condo or town home? If so, that can make it trickier (but not impossible) for you to take occupancy of the property.
  • What are the strata or HOA fees and what do they include? Are there any special assessments on the horizon?

Neighbourhood Considerations

  • Who would be your neighbours? Young families, single professionals, empty nesters, all of the above?
  • How long is your commute to work? Don’t rely on online estimates; test out the route during rush hour to see what’s it really like!
  • How close is the property to the nearest fire station or fire hydrant? Proximity offers peace of mind but it can also help lower your homeowners’ insurance premiums.
  • How are noise levels during the day and at night? Does the home face the street and if so, how will that impact noise levels? Visit the property at different times of day to test noise levels for yourself.
  • Are there nearby bus routes if that’s important to you? What’s within walking distance? ( rates properties in the U.S. and Canada based on their walkability, including proximity to schools, coffee shops and more.)
  • How are the local schools? Even if you don’t have children at the moment, that may change in the future. Plus, a property located in a school district will be more desirable to future buyers than a district with lower-quality schools.
  • Do you feel safe in the area in the daytime and at night? Have you checked local crime stats?
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