Buying a House in a New City

Homebuying is a stressful process for anyone, but moving to a new city (or province, or country) has its own particular challenges. You may only be able to visit a couple of times, and it's hard to get a sense of the city and neighbourhoods, never mind each house you're considering.

Get to know neighbourhoods virtually
Not sure where you want to live? The Homebuyer Hub was designed to help you out. Our HoodQMatch™ quiz takes just a minute to capture your wishlist, and recommend neighbourhoods from across the region that fit your needs - and explain how each neighbourhood matches and doesn't. HoodQMatch™ also shows you specific current listings that match your criteria in your recommended neighbourhoods. Our HoodQ School Locator™ and HoodQ CityLife Resource Centre™ tools have many filters to help you narrow down neighbourhoods. And our Neighbourhood Guides are perfect for deep diving into each of the neighbourhoods you're considering.

Besides the tools in the Hub, Google Streetview can help you virtually walk around in a neighbourhood, and Google Maps can tell you what the traffic is like on the route you'll take to work at the times you'll be travelling.

Make your visits count
Line up as many house tours as you can, of course. But also make sure to spend time in the neighbourhoods you're considering. Ideally, visit them at different times of the day. The same street can be pretty different during the day when everyone's at school or work, vs a Saturday afternoon, vs a Friday evening.

Lean on any locals you know
If you have friends or family in your new city, you probably already have someone who could be willing to go to a few neighbourhoods and open houses and tell you what they think. If you're a member of a faith community or any other community with chapters/groups in different cities, you may be able to find someone local who is willing to give you the inside scoop. Of course, there's always the internet - check out local forums and online groups and ask for help.

Your real estate agent will be essential in this process. They'll be able to explain all of the particularities of your new city, from areas where there will be lots of new construction to the hidden gems. They should be able to give you a local's opinion of different neighbourhoods you might be considering.

Use technology to help with the buying process
One benefit of the pandemic's effect on the real estate industry is making virtual tours standard in many markets. These can really give you a good idea of what it's like to walk through a home, more so than photos alone. You should also ask your agent to give you a video call tour of your prospective homes when you can't be there in person.

Many of the paperwork tasks involved in buying a home can now be either automated or done online with new tools. The old days of rushing out to a 24 hour copy shop to fax a signed document are mostly gone!

While it's never going to be stress-free, it's easier now than ever to relocate, with lots of helpful technology to assist you in the process.