For most of us, purchasing or building a home will be the biggest investment of our lives. This section is about knowing what to look for in new homes to get the best value for your dollar, or what to look for in a building lot for the same reasons.

What to look for in a location:

  • Being close to where you work and play
  • Nearby services: groceries, banks, shops, public transportation
  • Minimal traffic: air pollution, noise pollution, commute times, walk-ability
  • Emergency services: hospitals, fire and police
  • Municipal services: access to power, water and  sewers (this is more relevant for building lots)
  • Green space: being close to parks and waterways
  • Soil conditions and topography to avoid flooding
  • Stay away from flood plains
  • Backyard privacy and greenery
  • Sun exposure: for interior quality of life, also for a garden if that's your thing.
  • Community: do you like the neighbours and the area?
  • Is it a kid friendly neighbourhood? (this is good to know whether you like kids or not)

How to recognize a valuable home:

Don't just look at the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, true value goes far beyond that. 

  • Energy efficiency - ask to see utility bills
  • Exterior durability - look for any wall damage and proper stormwater management - (eaves troughs, ground sloping away from the house, etc.)
  • Interior design and functionality of space
  • Soundproofing from the exterior and interior noise transmission
  • Interior air quality does it smell fresh, stale, or like chemicals or tobacco smoke?
  • Good quality windows - look for water damage around the interior, signs of air leakage, double or triple-pane
  • Quality mechanical systems -  iare they old or new? Check model numbers online for reviews and efficiency

Some of the above items are fairly self-explanatory, other topics will be explored at greater depth in other articles.

And just because a home you like doesn't score an A+ on all the above criteria doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it. Just be sure you know what you are buying, and that you have the funds to pay for any improvements, certainly any urgent ones. And showing that you did your homework will give you a leg up in negotiations.