Thinking of buying a new home? Hit your city’s website and find out if there’s any development going on in the community. Understanding local development plans, and if people and businesses are moving in or out of town, can give you a gut check on the current properties that exist and the future market potential.

Shopping around for a home can be challenging. Everyone’s heard location is key and that home seekers need to stick within a budget they can afford but here are some things you may not have considered when looking for a new home:

Forecasting the future

Buying a new home early in an emerging area can result in the growth of your investment as the value of the home climbs with the introduction of each new retail location, condo tower or expansion of the neighbourhood. Consider master-planned communities which offer potential buyers insight into a longer-term plan for the area.

Or check to see if your city has a land use or community plan which include plans and policies on land use management of the area. Both can give you an idea of the future potential growth of the area you are considering and when this might happen. These are available to the public and generally accessible online through your local municipality. Here are a few examples:

City of Vancouver: Major Community Projects, including Broadway Plan, Cambie Corridor and River District neighbourhoods

City of Vancouver: Community Plans, including West End, Mount Pleasant and Marpole

City of Burnaby: Community Plans, including Metrotown, Brentwood and Lougheed Town Centre

City of New Westminster: Community Plans, including Downtown, Queensborough, Brewery District and more

Here today and tomorrow?

A developer’s reputation and longevity in the area is definitely an important consideration when purchasing a new condo. Vancouver and the surrounding area is well known as a great investment for real estate but it’s extremely hard to determine the quality of construction once the paint is on the walls and the carpet on the floors. Only after years of living in a building you might determine that the construction wasn’t what you had hoped it to be.

The best way to hedge your investment bet is to purchase with a developer who has a long history of great quality construction. It takes a team to build new homes. Does the developer manage construction in-house or do they outsource to a construction management company? Are sales, marketing, interior design and customer care part of the developer’s in-house team? Check out reviews, ask your local realtors and visit other buildings they might have developed. Plus, you can see if the developer has more plans for the area and therefore intends to stay as they’ll have an interest in ensuring that your home buying experience is a positive one.

Here to help

One more thing to ask when purchasing a new home directly from a developer is if there is an existing aftercare system, which is a developer’s special systems and group of people who are dedicated to supporting you from the time you purchase to after you receive the keys to your new home. This aftercare system can be an indication of a developer’s commitment to their customers.

If you’re purchasing a pre-sale home before it’s built, you can ask about ongoing communication and how often you’ll receive construction updates. Does the developer host community events, allowing you to set up roots in your neighbourhood even before you pick up your keys? How accessible is the aftercare team after you move in? While most homes come with a 2-5-10 home warranty coverage, it is a comforting to know that you can walk into a dedicated aftercare office and speak to someone about your concerns directly.

Good luck in your new home search!