Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Financial Benefits of Happy Neighbours

Last week, I was staging a  house I had coming to the market. When I was done, I stepped outside to see about 20 neighbours waiting for me. As I walked passed them en route to my car, they closed in around me like a swarm of zombies. As most people know, it's not unusual to have nosy neighbours. If I was not working in real estate myself, I would be curious to know what my neighbour's house was selling for.  It's a natural state to be curious.  These particular neighbours asked the usual questions about prices on their street, but what I was noticing about them: They were a very united and diverse group who all seem to be buddies. It wasn't like some burbs where all the people with kids live in this area and all the people who are old live in that area. They were a mix of young and old, parents of kids and parents of dogs, singles and couples, the tres cool and the uncool.

Now, don't worry...This isn't a riff on how diverse Toronto can be, but I warn you that it does have a warm and fuzzy feel, with a financial benefit.

For me, it is very important to have a sense of community where you live, whether it's a condo building or a street that you bought your house.  I believe that a community needs to have a healthy mix of many kinds of Torontonians.

The listing I had coming up was in Cabbagetown.  It's in an established neighbourhood where walking down the street on a warm day can be a pleasure.  You have a great local butcher, long-time local pet store, and a diverse population. Plus, it's quiet and green. People take care of their properties. You know you are getting a ready-made community with a walkable main street nearby.

Emerging neighbourhoods are different from established ones like Cabbagetown. They are still forming. So in an emerging area like the Junction, you have the excitement of being one of the makers of a community. There's a group there now trying to turn an old police station into a community space for every one in the neighbourhood. In recent years, The Junction residents have formed a farmer's market and a flea market. This particular flea market was recently mentioned in Toronto Life as one of those things that makes Toronto so great.

But maybe you are not one who really wants to take part in the community, wherever it is. You may cower in fear at being invited to a neighbourhood potluck. And that's fine. But if you consider your big investment, a good community makes for a desired location, and an increase in the value of you home.

Buyers who are not as familiar with Toronto or a certain area want to feel welcome, and if they see nice neighbourly things happening, they will more likely want to buy there, even if they are not the friendly type themselves. They often carry around a certain amount of anxiety, and a little happy puts them at ease, and leaves them with a good feeling when they go home to consider what to buy. Even on the elevator ride up to a condo unit, you can get a sense of your neighbourhood. Happy condo people usually say hello or smile. Otherwise, no eye contact can make you feel like you're in a crabby office building.

I can say that those buildings or neighbourhoods that lack community involvement and are not near a vibrant main street where locals can bump into the locals, don't sell as easily.

Basically, there's really no way you can lose with a cohesive, well-mixed and involved community. If you are the neighbourly sort, then you will be happy in an area or building where things are happening and people are interacting. And if you would prefer to keep to yourself, then you can, and just reap the benefits of your neighbours doing neighbourly things. The better and stronger and more diverse your community, the better resale value for your house and condo.

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