First-Time Homebuyers Care More About Work, Not Neighborhood

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- What do people really want in buying a home? First-time buyers differ from "average" homebuyers in establishing those priorities, according to a survey from the Bank of Montreal -- and it underlines to what extent first-timers care about work over home life.

According to the bank, 34% of first-time buyers value a short commute to work, compared with 28% of other homebuyers, while 28% of first-time buyers want to live near public transit, compared with 19% of other so-called average buyers.


But first-time buyers aren't as adamant about living in a quiet neighborhood -- only 30% say that's a big priority, compared with 43% of other homebuyers. Nor are they really interested in having "good neighbors" -- only 21% of first-time buyers say that's a big deal, compared with 30% of other homeowners.

In general Canadians want location, the survey says. But they also want:

  • A safe neighborhood -- 63%
  • Living on a quiet street -- 43%
  • Having "good neighbors" -- 30%
  • A short commute to work -- 28%
  • Being near family and friends -- 25%

"Everyone has a unique set of personal and financial priorities, so it's important that those particular needs are considered when deciding on the right location to purchase a home," explains Laura Parsons, a mortgage expert at BMO Bank of Montreal. "Taking a practical approach to homebuying is the key to preventing yourself from getting 'swept away' by the bells and whistles of a house."

That's all about deciding on what really matters in a home purchase, then acting on those decisions. "Homebuyers should make a list of needs versus wants and prioritize them in order of highest to lowest importance," Parsons says.

The bank urges consumers to work closely with a trusted real estate professional to establish priorities and act on them. It's also advisable to take care of the financial end of the home purchase before hunting so you're ready to pounce when a great deal pops up.

"If planning to buy or sell a property, consider working with an expert who can help you make decisions that are appropriate to the health of your local market, and more importantly, that fit within your particular personal and financial priorities," Parsons says.


"Getting pre-approved financing, choosing a fixed rate and stress-testing mortgage payments in advance of buying a home can provide peace of mind and help homebuyers become mortgage-free sooner," she adds.

If you have your financial ducks in a row and know exactly what you want in a new home, your chances of homeownership are greatly enhanced.