It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement when purchasing your first home.There are so many things to consider when purchasing a home, including location, size, style of home, vintage, general condition of home, building materials used, parking, mortgage choices, etc. However, many people will spend weeks researching a television purchase, but go out in one day and buy a home without doing much research at all. Finding a realtor who takes a consultative approach to the process can make the difference between enjoying your home for years to come versus having regrets soon after you purchase it.
In terms of location, watch for things like bus stops and fire hydrants. It can be convenient to have a bus stop close to your home, but if it’s right outside your front door you may not appreciate the diesel engine accelerating loudly at 5 a.m., not to mention losing valuable street parking. The same thing applies to fire hydrants. You may see some savings on your home insurance with a fire hydrant in front of your home, but street parking is restricted.
Corner lots can be a positive or a negative. You have one less neighbour beside you, but you will likely have more sidewalk to shovel. Depending on how the home is situated on the lot you may only have a side yard, rather than a full backyard. Should a tall fence stand at the back of a property, you’ll want to know what’s on the other side of it. Hopefully it’s not a train track, unless you like the sound and rumble of freight trains. Google Earth’s aerial views can be a great asset in getting the lay of the land.
There are so many aspects to choosing location, some things that are important to a particular buyer may not matter to another. If you have a young family or plan to start one then you may want to research schools and buy a home close to the school of your choice. Perhaps proximity to work is more important. We are seeing millennials gravitate to Edmonton’s downtown core to avoid long commutes. Do you have two vehicles? Would it be convenient to have a grocery or convenience store within walking distance if you only have one vehicle? How about proximity to parks or coffee shops?
Most buyers often fail to consider air quality in the surrounding area. If this is important to you, you might not want your home next to a busy street or downwind from a refinery. With prevailing northwest winds in the Edmonton area, one could argue that the further northwest you are the better the air quality. If you’re searching for a three-bedroom home for a future family, will it make a difference if one of the bedrooms is in the basement? New mothers will want their infants close and within earshot.
The vintage can be important insofar as energy efficiency and comfort. Some older homes with poor insulation can be expensive to heat, and the floors near outside walls can be quite cold to walk on. Older windows can be more susceptible to heavy frosting and heat loss. These issues can be dealt with, but it will add more cost to your home. If the home you buy is around 20 years old, it may soon need a new roof, furnace, or hot water tank. The grading around the home may need to be fixed, as the ground has probably settled toward the house. Upkeep, maintenance, and necessary improvements are important budget considerations for your next purchase.
Homes built with aluminum wiring can be a fire hazard and difficult to insure without upgrading the wiring in the home, which can cost upwards of $2,000 or more. These homes are commonly found in Edmonton and the surrounding area, built between 1968 and 1975, says Rob Swrd of Robart Electrical Services. Homes with only 60 or 70-amp electrical services may not be enough for some household needs and are also difficult to insure without upgrading, which can cost around $3,000 to bring it to 100 amps. These homes were usually built prior to the mid-1960s.
The style of your home may be important to you. Maybe you prefer a bi-level with big basement windows for natural light, or perhaps you would like a bungalow with laundry appliances on the main floor so that you rarely have to tackle the stairs. Some people might opt for a split-level with four sets of stairs to keep you healthy and vibrant (provided you don’t trip on them). Betty White lives in a two-storey home and credits it for her good health and long life. Also, two-storey homes with bonus rooms can be great for families, as it can provide more areas for the teenagers to hang out, without being right next to mom and dad all evening. Generally speaking, two-storey homes are the most economical to build and the least expensive to buy on a per-square-foot basis.
Attached or detached garage is another important decision. Will you store gas or chemicals in your attached garage, where the fumes can enter the home when you open the door? Will you let your car warm up in the garage where fumes can accumulate? Attached garages can be a great convenience, especially with our winters, but can also mean that you get one or two less windows to let in natural light.
There are many other considerations, but this is at least a start to get you thinking about your first home, or your next home. What’s important is that you buy with knowledge of these things, so you can make an informed decision and enjoy your home for years to come.
Dennis Faulkner is a realtor with Remax Excellence. He works alongside his wife and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, (780) 951-3361, on Facebook at The Faulkner Group, or at www.alledmontonhomesandcondos.com. Follow Dennis on twitter @FaulknerGroup