It’s one thing to customize the home of your dreams, but the decision on where to build it might be the most important choice you make.
There are so many factors that go into choosing the community you’ll call home, but Christina Baker with Clayton Developments says it always comes down to location.
“[Buyers] need to think about whether or not the location suits their lifestyle. Does it offer the amenities and features they’d like to have in their day-to-day life – like services, shops, daycares, schools, or restaurants?” says Baker. “They might want to live in an area with parks, walking trails, recreation facilities and public transportation.”
Baker says the amenities each homeowner wants really depend on where they are in their life.
Families with young children often want to be close to schools and recreational centres, whereas that might not be on the radar of a couple whose children have grown up and moved out. Public transportation is important for single-car families, downtown commuters, families with teens, and residents who choose not to drive.
While the Baby Boomers remain at the forefront of homebuyers, Baker says they’re not always looking for what people assumed they’d want.
“I think their needs are changing. Everyone said they would sell their homes and move into apartments, but many of them decided they weren’t quite ready for that sometimes-daunting 100-unit apartment building,” explains Baker. “They want something a little smaller and more quaint, where they can get to know their neighbours, be close to amenities and be part of a neighbourhood.”
Adam McLean with Armco Communities say he’s noticing more buyers wanting to buy into a “community” brand.
“Homeowners take great pride in where they live and want to ensure the community they choose offers good amenities and an eclectic mix of homes ranging from craftsman to very contemporary,” says McLean. “Community features like parks, trails, playgrounds and even retail are becoming the norm for what to expect in a community. For many, accessibility via bus route or nearby access to highways remains very important.”
He notes that there has also been an increase in first-time homebuyers and “move-up buyers” deciding on a community based solely on the school district.
But today’s buyers are entertaining possibilities that never existed even a few decades ago.
McLean explains that it has only been in recent years that Atlantic Canadian builders have adopted the style of designing “complete communities,” rather than just a subdivision of homes – maybe with a small park in the middle, if you were lucky. Complete communities have been popular in Ontario and out west, and he says Nova Scotians are loving their convenience.
“These communities can be self-sufficient in terms of housing, places to work, places to shop, places to eat and schooling,” says McLean.
As more homeowners strive to live healthy lifestyles and increase their activity levels, McLean says a community’s “walkability” is more important than ever. Buyers are also looking for nearby walking trails and parks to make it easier to keep their family active.
McLean says Armco’s newly-opened lakefront development, Indigo Shores, has been attracting outdoorsy buyers who are looking for their own piece of paradise on McCabe Lake.
“This community is seeing great success as some of the lots have mature trees and are on the water, and there will be community access to the lake via a community park where residents can swim and launch canoes or kayaks,” says McLean. “There are not many boatable, lakefront communities in HRM directly accessible off the highway, and we have a mix of builders with products at various price points.”
When it comes to family homes, Baker says there’s been a huge shift in recent years. Compared to what families were purchasing 30 years ago, homes are looking very different.
“A lot of people are sacrificing the size of their home but ensuring it has everything they need,” says Baker. “Size isn’t as important as functionality, location, technology and comfort.”
The houses may be smaller, but homeowners are choosing quality over quantity – splurging on luxurious finishes and features that make the most of every square inch.
If you’re noticing fewer and fewer cookie-cutter “saltbox-style” houses these days, it’s because McLean says that’s no longer the direction most builders are heading. Homeowners don’t like the idea of living in a Stepford-style community where every home is a carbon copy of the one before it.
“Builders are continually pushing the envelope when it comes to home design, and homeowners are demanding features in homes in new communities that were not a priority in the past,” says McLean. “Wood walls, expensive and elaborate lighting, statement staircases as well as home automation and audio are becoming necessary to attract buyers.”
As The Parks of West Bedford continues to grow, Baker says it’s offering an incredibly diverse product mix for people of all ages and stages. There’s already buzz over The Parks of West Bedford’s new phase in Cascades Park, which has construction starting in late summer.
“Some are in the stage to rent and others are ready for a smaller home, while somebody else may be looking to expand to a larger home,” says Baker. “We have something for everyone, and we really try to give our residents all of the things they’re looking for in a community – like proximity to amenities, parks, schools and recreational facilities.”
In the end, McLean says, it comes down to choosing a community you identify with – one that speaks to your idea of “home” and will give you a little burst of pride when you announce your address.
“People want to proud of where they live,” says McLean. “The homes’ styles are the largest contributing factor to this. Buyers want to feel like they’re trendy – which hasn’t been seen in the past.”
While it’s an exciting decision and it’s natural to want to get started immediately, Baker adds that it’s essential to do your homework.
“Choose a reputable developer and homebuilder so you know you’re getting a quality product,” says Baker. “There are too many people who have less than enjoyable experiences, and it doesn’t need to be that way.”
“When you find a reputable builder, you can feel confident in the product and service you’re getting.”
Choosing where to live and who to build your home are two of the most important decisions you can make. Baker says today’s buyers are being “very discerning – and they should be.”
“It’s a big decision in their life to settle down and buy a home,” says Baker. “We want to make sure it’s the right place for them.”
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