Choosing a new home

Step 3: Exploration

After defining your needs and your affordability, you can now targets the neighbourhoods that appeal to you… and explore them.

Here’s what you should inspect:

  • The environment: Do you know if your area or neighbourhood is grappling with environmental issues? You must ask your real estate agent and maybe “Google” the area.
  • Look: Take a look at the paths and private properties in the neighbourhood. Are they well maintained?
  • Crime rate: Check the criminal activity with the local police department to avoid bad surprises such as the insurance rates for your house and car.
  • Public transport: Is it easily accessible and does it access the whole area and its surroundings? At what price? On what schedule? And more importantly: will you use it?
  • Daily: The presence of amenities, shops and institutions (health and education)
  • Industry: Compare the price of the house with the value of surrounding properties.
  • Other: Take some time to check the potential sources of noise and nuisance. If there is a park nearby, maybe it is lit very late at night and music may be played there. If there are shops, the traffic may disturb you. Don’t minimize the impact of potential nuisances before giving it a good look first. Your quality of life could truly be affected.
Detached house, semi-detached, condo or plex?

Your agent can guide you to make this decision. Still, you will have to keep a few factors in mind, as they will be arguments in favour of one option or the other. For example, do you have enough time to take care of your garden? Do you need a separate dining room? An office? How many rooms do you need?

The single-family detached house is the most popular among families but the price to pay for this kind of privacy, among other things, is that you must take care of a much bigger backyard.

The semi-detached house is inhabited by only one family but is connected to another by a common wall. It can offer many benefits of the detached house and its purchase and maintenance are generally less expensive.

The duplex consists of a building comprising two superimposed individual apartments. It has advantages of financial nature: some of the maintenance costs are tax deductible and the rent really helps to pay the mortgage. 

In a housing condominium, you are the owner of the unit where you live and you share ownership rights for the common areas of the building (such as the land and facilities like a swimming pool). The advantage is that you do not worry about yard maintenance.

The row house (also called town house) is part of a set of houses connected to each other by common walls. The price of these houses is not as high as that of a detached house or even a semi-detached house. Although each townhouse has a separate yard, it does not offer as much privacy as the detached house nor as much space.


You will eventually fall in love with a property. You will still need to put some of your feelings aside and keep a critical eye when you will be visiting. Here is a list of key items you should inspect (from

  • The external condition of the house: Check the roof, gutters, brick, plaster, paint, siding, decks and balconies.
  • Energy efficiency: What type of heating and insulation is in the house? Is the house fully insulated?
  • Air quality: Is the air fresh and healthy in the house? Check the conditions and materials that will maintain a healthy indoor environment.
  • The state of the basement and crawl space:Are there signs of mold? See if there are traces of humidity, water leaks or cracks.
  • Structural problems: Are the windows stuck? Are the floors unequal? These problems can be the sign of a structural defect.
  • Water pressure: Turn the taps on and off or flush the toilet to verify this.
  • Is there parking space? Does the house have its own parking lot or is it shared?
Image de Josée Descôteaux

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