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Buying into a community

January 12, 2020

Planned communities range from large-scale developments with hundreds of homes to private enclaves of less than 50 homes. The word ‘community’ may conjure up images of 2.3 children families, manicured front lawns, children’s bikes and a small town atmosphere. Or you may have visions of an active adult lifestyle with nature trails, bike paths and sports facilities.

It is important to have realistic expectations and to know what a particular community offers before you buy into it. As you visit builders’ sales offices and display homes, ask about the community environment and activities that may take place in an estate to find out more.

Who’s the target market?

Ask the builder or salesperson to describe the community and the homeowners it is designed for. Inquire about the mixture of homes in terms of size, styles and price range, and ask for a profile of people who have bought to date – sometimes the actual buyers differ from those targeted in the advertising. Some communities, notably those aimed at mature adults and seniors, may also set criteria for who can buy there.

What common facilities will be included?

Today’s residential land developers strive to build enjoyable and healthy environments for all age groups. Common facilities such as parks and community centres provide a central area where people can meet, socialise and get involved. Find out about cost for use, if any, and how the facilities and common areas will be maintained once the development is completed.

What ongoing services will be offered?

Services provided by communities to individual homeowners vary greatly, so be sure to ask for detailed information, including any associated costs. Seniors’ developments may include gardening and health and recreational services.

Ask to see the complete community plan

People make a community work, and the layout and design of a development is crucial to encourage interaction among people. Look for narrow or curved streets to slow down traffic, and sidewalks and pathways for pedestrians and bicycles for getting around the development easily and safely. Check if shops and service areas are within walking distance, and note the location of schools, access to transportation and connections to other parts of the city or area.

Talk to the people who live in the community

If the development is already partially built and lived in, walk around to get a feeling for the community. Stop to chat with people on the street, or try knocking on somebody’s door to ask a few questions. Most people won’t mind, and it can help you to decide if this is the community for you.

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