After just a few days, with some clients, I'll get a question: "Should we add more neighbourhoods?" This is almost as challenging as the response "I'm happy to look anywhere".
The short answer is, it's good to not have too many "won'ts, "can'ts", or "don'ts" on your shopping list when you are house-hunting. Almost every searcher, whether they are a tenant looking for a rental, a condo-buyer seeking their first home, a downsizer making a change in lifestyle, or someone who needs a bigger property for their growing family, will end up making compromises. The truth is, widening the net is not useful on its own. Rather, what works better for most of my clients is to have a list of criteria that are important, and then to segment that list. Essentials - a specific school district, proximity to the only transit route to work, accessibility criteria, work from home space, or something else that will impact your quality of life - should come first. Next - nice-to-haves - these are things that will make your life richer or more enjoyable, but that you can access nearby, or by spending time on the weekends or your other free time getting there. (For me, I love golf and hiking - but my work makes it challenging to live close to those things, so they are nice-to-haves. I live close to a direct route to get to both of those things when I have a rare day off). Last, fabulous bonuses. These are things that are in no way essential, and not even expected, but that are available in some properties, and might tip the balance between one option and another. And don't forget budget - for some clients, this is much more flexible than for others. If the neighbourhood you want just doesn't have properties available in your snack bracket, it's better to spend less time looking for a magical unicorn, and yes, in that case, perhaps expanding to the neighbourhood next door.
So, to sum up, here's what I advise:
- Dream big. Write down every single thing you would love to have in your next home. (Don't forget your budget!)
- Remember that your budget is what the lender (or your monthly income, for renters) proves you can pay, not what you believe you can scrimp to make possible.
- Leave the fairy tales to someone else - be realistic about your expectactions.
- Segment your list into essentials, nice to haves, and amazing bonuses.
- Focus on the first group, and be excited if you discover some of the items in the second or third list.
More time invested in thinking and preparing will result in less time searching and coming up empty-handed. And that's a win for both of us! Give me a call when you're ready. I'm happy to help.