What are you looking for in a neighbourhood?

Most home buyers know what they want in a house – whether it's three bedrooms, a two-car garage, enough backyard for a full-sized cricket pitch, or all of the above – and that helps guide their house hunt.

Establishing your priorities early on in your property search can really save you time and help you make tough but pertinent appraisals of each place you see advertised.

Yet this doesn't just go for the property itself, as no home is an island!

The relative merits of different neighbourhoods and communities are just as important to consider when shopping for a place to live.

Most obviously, each time you step outside your new home you will be confronted with your new neighbourhood.

Depending on your preferences, what you want in your neighbourhood could make certain properties more desirable than others – even properties that bear no other differences than where they are located.

If you have young ones – or young ones on the way – being in the vicinity of good schools can pay off in the future, as can being close to parks, bike paths and other recreational facilities.

It is also good to think about amenities you may need to access. If you need to travel or commute a lot, having easy access to public transport will be a must.

And don't forget essential services. Some may like to be close to hospitals or a doctor's office, just in case – or to a pizza parlour in case of snacking emergencies!

Of course there is another area where establishing your specific needs early on is an excellent idea – your home finance.

A first home buyer loan deserves just as much consideration as a first property – don't settle for anything less than the right fit for you!