With more than 30 years of experience helping clients buy and sell properties across the Ottawa area, I’ve developed a good instinct for helping buyers find a home and a neighbourhood they’ll love, just by listening to them carefully when we first meet.

Sometimes I am working with buyer clients who already know the city well and know exactly which part of the city appeals to them.

But I also work often with buyers who are Ottawa residents and are considering a move to an area they don’t know well.

Other buyers are relocating from another city and don’t know Ottawa at all. Often, these newcomers have been referred to me by previous clients and/or agents who know that I have an “instinct” for the locations.  I’ve gained a lot of experience in introducing our city to newcomers and helping them find a neighbourhood that suits their vision of a home & the lifestyle is my specialty.

When clients tell me about their budget, the kind of neighbourhood that appeals to them, and their life style, whether it’s being close to transit or schools or close to coffee shops and restaurants… I have a good sense of the areas that will work for them.

When we travel together to view a property, I give clients a tour of the area and show them some of the highlights and features, such as transit options,  libraries, shopping areas, recreation centres or farmers’ market locations and of course the closest greenspaces for those who have pets.

In view of finding that perfect property “I give my clients homework”.  I will suggest that they drive through various areas to get a feel for whether the area is a good fit for their needs.  This is very important as the real estate market moves fairly quickly and there is not always time to get to know the area after they see “that perfect home”.  My favourite quote is “I can find you a perfect home but, I can’t move it” so my clients need to get to know the city in order for their purchase to be a smooth transaction and not rushed and stressful.

Here are a few ways to get to know a neighbourhood:

Check out the Walk Score:

If you like being able to walk to such things as transit stations, shops and restaurants, you can check the walkability of a neighbourhood at www.walkscore.com, by typing in the address.

The site rates walkability in the immediate area from a scale of zero to 100, and will also give you a transit score and a score for how easy cycling is in the area, as well as time estimates for travel to downtown by car or transit.

Walk the Neighbourhood Yourself:

Nothing can give you a feel for a neighbourhood than to spend some time there both in the day time and returning at night or on a weekend to get a feel for the area that you might be traveling through either by car or by foot.

Can you walk to area shops, restaurants and farmers’ markets, or are the gym and park?  Of interest see which coffee shops or restaurants have a “neighbourhood institution” feel to them. Consider chatting with people there and asking them what they like or dislike about the area.

Try the Commute:

If time allows, try out your commute to work in the morning or the trip home. If you will be using transit, try the route and check the timing to see how the trip feels. OCTranspo offers a travel planner on its site, telling you how to get from one address to another on the transit system. Check out your route at: http://plan.octranspo.com/plan

If you’re driving, and you encounter bumper-to-bumper traffic that turns the trip to and from work into a nightmare, perhaps we can find you something closer to work, or something closer to public transit so you can leave the car at home.

Neighbourhood Associations:

Many neighbourhoods in our city have residents’ associations, which work with city hall to improve the neighbourhood and serve as an information hub for those living in the area. Some organize community events and activities, and help to bring residents together. You can search the web for such associations, and check their sites to see what they’ve been up to in your neighbourhood.

You might want to consider joining or signing up for newsletters or e-mails to hear what’s going on in the area.

If you’re looking for something specific, let me know:  

If you have particular passions or interests and a wish-list for certain things you’d like to have near your home, let me know. Enjoy art galleries or performing arts? Like to swim, skate or work out in a gym? Enjoy hiking or ice skating? Love fine dining?

I can fill you in on where you’ll find these things and more, in relation to any area you’re considering.

After working with clients in Ottawa for more than three decades, I’m proud of the expertise I’ve developed in Ottawa’s neighbourhoods and the qualities and attractions in them. I’m always delighted to hear from clients who thank me for finding them not just a property they love, but a neighbourhood they enjoy just as much.

If you’re interested in buying or selling property in the Ottawa area, I’d love to chat with you about the current market conditions in specific neighbourhoods. You can read more about me and my team and the services we offer, at www.nancybenson.com. Feel free to give me a call, at 613-747-4747.