The hidden delights of really great neighbourhoods

Most homebuyers know that it’s just as important to choose a good location as it is to find the right property – but too many don’t look beyond the safety and security of the area they are considering.

“However,” says Richard Gray, CEO of Harcourts Real Estate, “if you want to ensure that the value of your property will grow and that you will get to live in a really great area while it does, there are quite a few more factors to take into account before deciding where to buy.

“Apart from the availability of public transport and ease of access to main commuting routes, convenient shopping facilities and proximity to quality schools, for example, it is also important to think about more ‘hidden’ positives or negatives, such as property taxes or insurance rates.”

Property rates can vary substantially from one municipality to another or in different provinces, he explains, and your short-term insurance company might charge you more or less depending on the profile of your new area.

“Another such factor, and one that is becoming increasingly important as more and more people work wherever they are rather than in a traditional office, is connectivity. Will you be able to have high-speed Internet access in your new home? And how good are the cell phone and digital TV reception in this area?”

In addition, says Gray, you shouldn’t forget about your leisure time. “You need to think about what recreation and sports amenities the area has, as well as things like how much traffic you may encounter when driving children to after-school activities, or how far you will have to travel to reach your favourite beach, forest or hiking trail.

“Then with regard to lifestyle, you also need to keep an eye out for busy roads, bright lights, lively pubs and restaurants, and lots of late-night activities. This will really suit you if you like to be in the thick of things, but may not be so great if you have a regular day job and are a light sleeper.”

And finally, he says, if you are thinking of moving into an estate or a gated area, you really must find out all about the Home Owners’ Association or the local Ratepayers’ Association/ Community Forum before you do.

You need to establish its financial standing, its management track record and what its monthly levies or membership charges are, and find out if there are any estate rules that may not suit you.

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