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  • Writer's pictureTeam Pinto

20 Key Considerations Before You Start Home Shopping in the Waterloo Region

Buying a home is an exhilarating venture, but it's also one that requires thorough planning and consideration, especially if you're a first-time homebuyer. It's like planning a cross-country road trip; the more prepared you are, the smoother the journey. So, before you start browsing listings or making appointments to view homes, there are key factors you should consider.

Here, to help you get started right, we have complied a comprehensive list of 20 things that you should keep top of mind when beginning your search for that perfect for you Waterloo Region home.

1. What Can You Really Afford?

Before falling in love with that five-bedroom dream house, know what you can afford. This doesn't just mean getting pre-approved for a mortgage, but also taking into account other expenses like maintenance, utilities, property taxes, and even possible condo fees.

2. Know the Neighbourhood

You're not just buying a home, you're also buying into a community. Look into local amenities, crime rates, and long-term developments. A seemingly affordable home can become pricey if you have to travel far for basic amenities.

Also, try to get a feel for the community culture—visit local shops, parks, and even attend a local event if possible. This will give you a more holistic view of where you could be living for many years to come.

With these added details, you get a deeper understanding of the community you're considering. Sometimes it's the intangible qualities like the sense of community or the friendliness of neighbours that make a neighbourhood truly feel like home.

3. Future Developments

Check what kind of development plans are in store for the area. Whether it's a new transit route or a commercial complex, future developments can significantly impact your quality of life and property value.

4. School Districts

If you have or plan to have children, the school district will be a significant factor. But even if you don’t, a home in a good school district will likely hold its value better.

5. Resale Value

It might seem premature to think about selling your home before you even buy it, but it's a critical factor. Market trends, the home’s condition, and the neighborhood will all contribute to its resale value.

6. Home Type

Whether it’s a single-family home, a condo, or a townhouse, each type has its benefits and drawbacks, including different maintenance responsibilities and costs. For instance, a condo might offer a host of amenities like a swimming pool or gym, but you'll likely pay monthly condo fees for those luxuries.

Single-family homes offer more privacy and control over your property, but come with the added responsibility of maintenance and yard work. On the other hand, townhouses may offer a middle-ground option, often providing some amenities and a small yard with lower maintenance requirements.

These added aspects underscore the importance of understanding what you're signing up for with each type of home. The best fit will align not just with your budget, but also your lifestyle and how much time and effort you can dedicate to maintaining your new home.

7. Public Services and Amenities

Easy access to public services like hospitals and police stations not only adds to the convenience but also to your sense of security.

8. Size and Layout

How much space do you really need? And how is that space laid out? Open floor plans may seem modern and spacious, but they might not work for everyone.

9. Age of Property

Older homes may offer more character but may also require more repairs and upgrades. Newer homes might be move-in ready but could lack the charm or a well-established neighborhood.

10. Must-Haves vs. Nice-to-Haves

Before you begin your home search, it's crucial to identify what you absolutely need in a new home versus what you'd like to have but could live without. Compile a list of essential features and amenities that you absolutely can't compromise on, as well as secondary features that would be nice to have but aren't deal-breakers.

Must-Have Features Could Include:

  • A specific number of bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate your family

  • A large kitchen with plenty of work space

  • Proximity to work or public transit to maintain a manageable daily commute

  • A safe neighborhood, especially if you have or are planning to have children

  • Essential amenities like a nearby grocery store, pharmacy, or hospital

  • A minimum square footage to ensure you have the space you need

Nice-to-Have Features Might Be:

  • A finished basement or potential for a future renovation

  • Extra amenities like a swimming pool, home theater, or a large garden

  • Proximity to recreational centers, parks, or cultural venues

  • High-end finishes or appliances

  • A specific architectural style or historical character

By clearly defining these categories, you'll have a roadmap for your home search. It also helps you maintain perspective; if a home meets all your must-have criteria but lacks some of the nice-to-haves, you can more readily recognize it as a strong contender. This list can also be a valuable tool in discussions with real estate agents.

11. Homeowners Association (HOA) Rules

If your chosen property falls under a homeowners association, make sure you are comfortable with all their rules and fees.

12. Utilities

The cost of utilities can vary significantly depending on the home's age, condition, and location. Always ask for past bills before making a decision.

13. Commute

Your daily commute to work or access to public transportation can affect your quality of life and need to be considered.

14. Inspections

Though not part of the initial viewing, knowing that you’ll need an inspection later on will inform your initial visits. Look for obvious red flags, like cracks in the wall or water-stained ceilings.

15. Hidden Costs

Homeownership comes with multiple hidden costs like property insurance, possibly higher utility bills, and routine maintenance. Budget for these.

16. Noise Levels and Surroundings

Consider factors like traffic noise, neighbors, and even the amount of natural light the property gets. These will impact your daily life in the home.

17. Parking and Public Transit

If you own a car, or two, check the parking situation. If you rely on public transport, see how far the nearest station or bus stop is from the property.

18. Property Taxes

These can be a significant annual cost and tend to rise over time. Make sure to factor this into your long-term budget.

19. Local Real Estate Market

Understanding whether you’re in a buyer’s or a seller's market will help you gauge how much room you have for negotiation. Team Pinto can provide invaluable guidance if you're shopping in the Waterloo Region.

20. Your Lifestyle

Finally, can you see yourself living here for the long term? Does the property fit your lifestyle, and can it adapt if your situation changes (like a new family member)?

Wrapping it Up

Once you've mulled over these aspects, you'll be better prepared to take the plunge into actual house hunting, offers, and everything that follows. You'll be more confident, more informed, and less prone to the emotional rollercoasters that can come with such a significant life change.

And if you're home shopping in the Waterloo Region, consulting with Team Pinto can provide you with tailored, local advice that can be the difference between a house and a home. Contact us here to get started.



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