Real Estate Blog for Property Owners

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How To Find a Neighborhood to Call Home

When looking at buying or renting a new place, there is no denying the importance of finding somewhere that matches your criteria and where you feel at home. But finding the right neighbourhood for you, where you will feel surrounded by the right community, is also crucial for a successful move.

Indeed, location is everything, and it should always match your lifestyle. If you decide to renovate a house, you won’t ever change its location or your neighbours. And depending on your situation, the right neighbourhood can take several forms.

So, how can you make sure that your future home is located in an area that suits you? In this guide, we listed the most common criteria to ponder to help you find your perfect match.

What makes a great neighborhood

There are a few key elements to take into consideration when trying to identify a great neighbourhood. Depending on your circumstances, these can vary. Still, looking at the criteria below should give you enough insights to know if the area you are eyeing might be the right fit for you (or not).

Look at the walkability of the neighborhood

On a scale from 0 to 100, a Walk Score estimates the walkability of any address. The index is based on walking routes to amenities such as grocery stores, restaurants, public transport, schools, parks, restaurants, and retail. It also takes into account pedestrian friendliness by analysing population density and road metrics.

A walker’s paradise, where daily errands do not require a car, would score between 90 and 100. On the contrary, a score of 49 or less indicates a car-dependent neighbourhood, where most or all errands require a car.

Research shows that walkable communities are not only healthier and more economical, but they are also more diverse, resilient, sustainable, friendlier, and greener. These in-demand neighbourhoods draw people from all income brackets who appear to be happier. Moreover, a 2016 study in the US found that one Walk Score point can increase the price of a home by an average of 0.9% (Source: Redfin). If you’re looking for Home buyers in Texas.

Public transportation and roads

Just like the Walk Score, the Transit Score can give you a good indication of the quality of transportation in the area. It calculates the distance to the closest stop on each route and analyses route frequency and type. The same way, the Bike Score measures bike accessibility based on bike infrastructure, topography, destinations and road connectivity.

With the rise of work from home arrangements, commute times might have become irrelevant for some people. But for the others, it probably remains one of the most important criteria to consider. No matter your situation, make sure that public transportation and traffic are good enough for you to accomplish all your daily tasks without trouble.

Schools and child-friendliness

If you have children or planning to have some in the future, the quality and choice of schools should be top of the list when looking for the perfect neighbourhood. Keep in mind that this is also something that will directly influence the price of your future home. Generally, the better the reputation of the nearby schools, the more expensive it becomes to buy in the neighbourhood.

However, a child-friendly environment is about more than just providing good schools. Look at the parks and playgrounds on offer in the neighbourhood, and remember that children also need to be able to get around independently. Will it be easy and safe for them to walk to school or simply visit a friend? Make sure of it.

Make safety a priority

How a neighbourhood looks might give you an indication of how safe it is. But you should also look at potential safety measures and programs in place in the area, such as Neighbourhood Watch. Simply asking the local police station is an easy and effective way to know more about the neighbourhood.

Another safety element to look at can be footpaths and traffic signs. Are there walkways everywhere and stops signs or traffic lights where necessary, so your kids can be safe when walking around? And is the neighbourhood well-lit, so you will feel comfortable when going for a run once it is dark? Depending on your situation, these are also questions you might want answered.

A neighborhood in sync with your lifestyle

It is common sense that you should always pay great attention to the environment when looking for a new place. In other words, the neighbourhood must suit your lifestyle for you to feel at home.

Do you enjoy spending time outdoors and playing sports? Do you want to be able to walk or jog in nature near your home? If this is the case, see if the neighbourhood has lots of trees, parks or trails for you to walk, run or cycle. Or easy access to a beach if you enjoy starting your day with a dip in the ocean.

What about local shops and services? If you shop once a week and drive to the supermarket, it might not be a crucial criteria. However, if you prefer to buy your food fresh from small, local shops, and maybe have a chat with the shopkeepers, then you will want plenty of them around. And suppose you are a family with children or a senior. In that case, you might also need easy access to a medical centre and chemist, so check if there are any close by.

Also, think about your social life. Do you enjoy going out for breakfast or dinner or grabbing a drink after work? Then check that there are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby. A cinema or a show venue might also be appealing to you. However, if you are an early bird who doesn’t appreciate being woken up at night, make sure to avoid proximity to bars and nightclubs.

And of course, if you prefer a calm, quiet lifestyle and are happy to stay at home, then a residential neighborhood might suit you much better.

What’s in Store for Real Estate in 2021?

Last year was one of the most challenging, unpredictable and life-changing in recent memory. Because of COVID-19, it saw significant disruption and change in every aspect of our lives. The way we socialise, exercise and entertain ourselves all shifted.
Property markets were not immune from the effect of last year’s events. Isolation, work from home and homeschooling changed the way we use our homes and also made us think about where we want to live.

These changes led to three major trends which will continue to grow and playout throughout 2021:

The home is now (also) an office – The way we use our homes has changed, as it is now also a workplace.
The regional revolution accelerates – Where we can live has changed, and we are witnessing more people opting to move outside our capital cities.
The construction industry to cater for new lifestyles – Because what we want and need in a home has evolved, construction and renovations will need to adapt and cater for a new way of living in our homes.

The home is now (also) an office

Before COVID-19, working from home was, for most, a one or two day a week occurrence and done at an individual employee level. The recent events saw this change, and it is now, generally, a company-wide policy, much more widespread and commonplace to work full-time from home.
Evidence of this shift can be found in our survey of 1,430 people (LJ Hooker, November 2020). It showed that, before COVID-19, 79% of people worked at their place of work and only 21% from home. This evolved over the course of 2020 with 38% of respondents saying that they now work remotely. Furthermore, 36% said that they would still be working from home in 2021, while 64% will be back in the office.
This change already has and will have ramifications for property markets over the coming years. It has made many people think about where they live, how they live, and the functionality of their homes to cater for a new way of living. This often includes seeking an extra room to use as an office space.
If setting up your office every day on the dining table might have been an option to address a temporary situation, it can’t be a long-term solution. When working from home becomes a permanent arrangement, then thinking about setting up a real home office becomes imperative.
This is why some homeowners in this situation might look into renovating or even expanding their homes to create a dedicated work area. Others might prefer to sell and buy bigger, often in a regional area that will offer a similar or better lifestyle at a cheaper cost.

The regional revolution accelerates

More and more people are looking at where they want to live in a post-COVID-19 world.
Not having to commute to the office every day offers many opportunities. Not only it allows to enjoy and a better work-life balance, but it also gives the possibility to look beyond city limits to find a dream home. Indeed, when working from home and searching for a new place, a fast and reliable Internet connection becomes more important than the postcode.
With more and more companies happy to offer the option of working from home, or even encouraging it, the hurdles that would have prevented a move to a regional area are fading away. This is particularly true for people working in industries designed to embrace remote working, such as IT or Finance. For them, the option of living in their dream location has become a real opportunity that many will want to seize.
Moreover, these remote workers will often be able to enjoy a similar or better lifestyle at a cheaper cost. For a home of a similar size and standard, the rent or mortgage they will pay should be nowhere near what they used to pay in capital cities, where they were forced to live when commuting five times a week to the office. In other words, by making a regional move, they will release the financial pressure and allow themselves to purchase a home without sacrificing their quality of life and even improving it.
For these reasons, towns like Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, Bangalow near Byron Bay or Wollongong and Thirroul in the Illawarra region have experienced a boom since the start of the Covid-19 era. One of the LJ Hooker offices that operate in NSW’s Central Coast region has reported that approximately 90% of enquiries now come from Sydneysiders. In comparison, it only used to be 50% before Covid-19.
Local governments in regional areas have also been quick to see the emerging trend of more people looking to the regions. They are actively providing support and even financial incentives in some cases for businesses to set up within their local towns and regions.

The construction industry to cater for new lifestyles

The construction industry will need to consider the layouts of apartments and houses to cater for work from home and schooling arrangements. Indeed, with new work habits and lifestyle also come new ways of thinking about the home.
After having experienced one or more lockdowns, Australians now want more space in their home and might favour houses over apartments. This often means looking for a place with an extra room to use as an office space. Likewise, dedicated work areas or built-in desks have been in high demand, and this trend should only increase in 2021. Granny flats should also be booming. They appear to be the perfect home office, as they make it easier to keep some boundary between work and personal life. Sell my home in Chester
The good news is that the recent tax cuts that came with the new Federal Budget will provide households with more money in their back pocket. This extra cash will contribute to helping them achieve their renovation or expansion projects. It will also benefit the ones looking at taking a loan to upgrade by increasing their borrowing capacity.
Thanks to government incentives and stimulus measures encouraging them into the market, 2021 should also see first home buyers activity peak. The record-low interest rates, as well as the extension of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (which allows eligible applicants to build or purchase a newly constructed home with a deposit of as little as 5%) to offer an additional 10,000 guarantees in 2020-21, will put them in a favorable position to leap.

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