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What to Include on Your Neighbourhood Checklist [Video]

It’s the first day of spring and with it comes the potential for a hot season of buying and selling real estate. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, your top concern may be about getting pre-approved for a mortgage and budgeting for your monthly mortgage payments. But there are a number of things you should consider, when you start house hunting. In this video, Toronto realtor Aleksandra Oleksak explains what to include on your neighbourhood checklist.


School zones, walkability, restaurants and a great community feel, are all things you’ll be looking for when shopping for a home. But purchasing in an older, already established market – like Summer Hill here in Toronto – can be very expensive, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer. Luckily, every city has up and coming areas that offer all the conveniences and amenities of a good neighbourhood at a reasonable cost. But, if you’re a first-time homebuyer, how do you find these areas and figure out what things you should be looking for in your potential neighbourhood?

While the number one on your list may vary from the number one on someone else’s list, there are a few key things you should ask about before buying your first home.

It’s important to be close to transit but not too close to transit in the sense that you can hear the subway in your basement for two reasons. One is the accessibility factor. So, if you live on the East or West end, and are not centrally located, you can quickly hop on the subway and be, in a matter of minutes, anywhere in the city. And obviously the second thing would be, from a value perspective, you can definitely fetch more money for your home when you go to resell it, because everybody is looking for that accessibility factor when they’re purchasing a home.

Even if you don’t have children right now, you may want to have children in the future, so you do have to consider about buying into a good neighbourhood with good school zones. Obviously, young families are really concerned with that as well. When you do go sell your home, you don’t want to alienate certain families by not being in a good school zone, because that’s a key thing that some families are looking for.

In addition to school zones, parks are really important as well. It’s nice to be able to walk there, enjoy the sun, the trees, read a book, or play with the kids on the playground. In addition, too, if you’re purchasing a home that’s near a park, you’ll definitely have to pay more money. But, in the end, when you go to resell it, you’ll definitely recoup that cost. So it just really depends what’s important for you.

Another key factor is the walk score. And the walk score is essentially just the walkability of your neighbourhood. You don’t want to have to trek across town to go to cafes, restaurants and bars to meet up with your friends. You just want to be local and walk there. And then obviously from a return on investment perspective, you can get more money for your home when you sell it in the future.

While researching online and reading community blogs and asking your realtor are a good way to find out particular details about a certain neighbourhood, really the best way is just to get out there, hit the pavement, walk around, get a sense for the neighbourhood, talk to neighbours and see if it’s really a perfect fit for you and somewhere where you can really call home.