As seen in the May 2011 Edition of the New Home and Condo Guide.

Q: My wife and I recently started a family and are in the market for a new home, but we are having trouble making a decision. With new developments popping up every day, it is becoming increasingly difficult for buyers to determine which new home is right for them. Are there any tips you can share to help us with the process?

A:  New developments are everywhere these days and investors and families alike are rushing to secure properties in prominent areas built by prestigious builders. As with most major decisions, it starts with assessing your own situation and asking yourself the right questions.

Once you’ve determined what you can comfortably afford, there are a number of factors you must examine in order to make the purchase that best suits your needs and preferences.

You’ll first want to assess not just your current circumstances, but what your future lifestyle may hold. How long do you plan to live in this area? How many bedrooms will you require one day? Your preschooler will eventually be a teen, so you’ll want to factor in the proximity and the reputation of the schools in your area. Family-oriented neighbourhoods can be somewhat noisier, particularly in the summer. If peace and solitude are something you covet, perhaps you should look for a more secluded community.

What is your current job situation? Is it one that might require you to relocate? If stability isn’t an issue, commute time to and from work should be factored in. With today’s soaring gas prices, you may wish to move to an area that has easy access to public transportation.

The bottom line is, if you’re contemplating a move to an unfamiliar neighbourhood, take time to do some exploring. Walk and drive around to get a feel for the community. Spend “a day in the life” of the neighbourhood and take notes. Tour the community to get a sense of the area’s vibe and traffic volume at different times of the day. Check out local services and businesses to see if the nearby amenities accommodate your needs and desires. Proximity to medical facilities, places of worship, and shopping all contribute to the livability of your new home.

It is essential that you find out what’s in and around your neighbourhood. Your ideal home may not be ideal anymore if it’s downwind from a pig farm or garbage dump, or it it’s adjacent to a freeway overpass. Think about the view: what will you see every time you look out your windows or stand on your front step? Asking such questions is every bit as important as figuring out what type of home you’d like to live in.

Make sure not to overlook the history and future of the neighbourhood. An older community might provide some historical charm but the surrounding homes in the area might need some work, while a predominantly new community may feel disconnected and artificial until the new subdivision takes root. Research any future developments, construction or planned area redevelopment, as this will factor significantly into how much you enjoy your new home.

There is no better way to get information than talking to the people who live within the community. Locals will typically be sincere and forthcoming about the advantages and disadvantages about living there. There is a plethora of reputable resources at your disposal to get statistics and information.

After you’ve examined all of these factors, you should be in a much better position to make an emotionally and financially healthy decision. All the best and happy hunting!