New homes also involve a new community, and you should take the time to learn about your new community. What you look for in a community can vary a great deal, depending on your lifestyle and life stage. The downtown high-rise condo that is perfect for young professionals or mature adults may not suit young families. Conversely, suburban communities that are great for families may not offer what singles and retirees are looking for. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ community, just the one that’s right for you!
Today, new developments are most often planned communities that range from large-scale developments with hundreds of homes to private enclaves of less than 50 homes, to downtown condo towers. The ideal community is a very personal thing that varies from person to person.
It is important to have realistic expectations and to know what you’re looking for before you buy into it. As you visit builders’ sales offices and model homes or suites, ask about the community at the same time.
Who is the target market? Ask the builder or salesperson to describe the community and the homeowners it is designed for. Inquire about the mixture of homes in terms of size, styles, and price range, and ask for a profile of people who have bought to date - who lives there? Some communities, notably those aimed at mature adults and seniors, may also set criteria for who can buy there.
What common facilities and community amenities are planned? Builders and developers put a great deal of effort into planning a community that will work well for the intended residents. In a neighborhood development, common facilities like parks and community centres are part of their plan. In condominiums, a wide range of common amenities can be included - from health clubs to pools to party rooms. Ask what is planned for the community or condominium development you are looking at.
What ongoing services will be offered? Services provided to individual homeowners by communities vary greatly, so be sure to ask for detailed information, including costs. In condominium developments, security and most maintenance of areas outside of your living unit will be professionally-managed. In some neighborhood developments, services such as gardening and snow removal are sometimes mandatory to keep the community attractive and safe. Seniors’ developments may include health and recreational services. Make sure you know what fees or costs are associated with the services provided.
Ask to see the complete community plan. People make a community work, and the layout and design of a new community will affect your daily routine as well as how residents interact. Look for narrow or curved streets to slow down traffic, and sidewalks and pathways for pedestrians and bicycles for getting around the development easily and safely. Check if shops and service areas are within walking distance, and note the location of schools, access to transportation and connections to other parts of the city or area.
Connect the community to your workplace. Options for getting to and from your workplace should be understood. If you plan to commute by car, it can be a good idea to drive your commute route at rush hour to get a sense of the time involved. If you plan on using transit, find out about schedules and routes that will work for you.
Talk to the people in your prospective community. Nothing beats talking with the neighbors to learn about a prospective community. If the development is already partially built and lived in, walk around to get a feeling for the community. Stop to chat with people on the street, or try knocking on somebody’s door to ask a few questions. Most people won’t mind, and it can greatly help you to decide if this is the right community for you.
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What to ask yourself when picking a community to build your home in:
Is it important to me to have schools in the community?
How many parks, pathways, and designated green spaces are there in the community?
Is there a grocery store within a five- to 10-
How far am I from family members, and close friends?
Will I need to change gyms or fitness facilities? And where is the closest one?
How many years left before the community is fully developed?
What is the resale value of homes in the area?
Why do I want to move into this community - what stands out to me!
Since 1943, the Canadian Home Builder’s Association has been the voice of Canada’s residential construction industry. For more information, visit chba.ca. Reprinted with permission by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association.
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