Q: My wife and I have fallen in love with a home we recently viewed. Unlike others we’ve seen, it’s been completely renovated and within our budget. But it’s on a busy street. Should this be a deal breaker for us? If we were ever to put it on the market, would the home’s location be a problem?
A. For most people, shopping for a home will always require compromises and trade-offs. You need to decide what features matter most to you, and which ones you can live without. Is a finished basement, an extra bathroom, or a private driveway more important than a quiet street? Or think of it this way: Is living on a quiet street worth the premium purchase price?
In Toronto, a property on a main street will typically cost less—potentially upwards of $200,000 less—than a house on a side street in the same neighbourhood. A bit of traffic noise may be tolerable if it means you can afford to live in a preferred neighbourhood (or school catchment) that you might otherwise be priced out of. On the other hand, if resale value is a priority, it’s important to understand that the location of the home isn’t going to change. It’s going to be a factor for future buyers, just as it is for you today; they’ll expect the house to be more affordably priced as a trade-off for being on a busier road.
If you can, visit the house and street again. See what it sounds like with the windows open. Is there really a lot of traffic, or is it mainly busy during weekday rush hours? Are you on a streetcar or bus route? If there’s a significant amount of foot traffic, will that affect your privacy? And what about parking? Backing out of a driveway can be a challenge on a busy thoroughfare. Is there sufficient space for your vehicles, or will you have to get a permit to park on a side street?
Ultimately, your comfort in the home is paramount. While there can be challenges to living on a main road, not all of them will be insurmountable (for example, installing triple pain windows can dramatically eliminate most outside noise). If that busier location gets you a number of things you do want in a home—from better finishes to a better school zone—then it’s worth giving your careful consideration.