You’ve probably heard that ages-old answer to the question about the three most important things a property should possess if you’re considering its purchase. Of course, that answer is “location, location, location.” And while that response may elicit a chuckle from most people, the fact remains that this is undoubtedly the best advice a homebuyer can receive as they ponder which house will soon be theirs.
But why does location matter so much? If it’s a great house on a so-so block, isn’t that a good deal? After all, you’re getting the best house available? And shopping isn’t all that far away, right? And it’s only a 30-minute bus ride for the kids to get to school! Sounds like a good choice, correct?
There are many reasons why the location should be your most serious consideration. After all, you can’t pick up a house and move it to a better spot, but you can take a mediocre house in a good location and improve it, providing yourself with an excellent long-term investment. Indeed, most realtors will instruct clients to buy the worst house on the best block, which makes a lot of sense in the long run.
But what constitutes a prime location? And what makes another location undesirable?
For families, in particular, easy access to good schools is paramount. But even if you don’t have children yet or are way past that stage of your life, you can be assured that home values will be higher when it’s well known that the school district in which you’re living is exemplary. So, if you think like a future seller (even though you’re buying now), it makes sense to buy in a neighborhood where home values will likely rise.
For parents of school-aged children, it’s simply a matter of securing the best education possible for your kids. Ask your realtor about the school district you’re considering or do some online research if you’re unfamiliar with the area.
Whether you’re young or old, parents of children or not, you’ll want your surroundings to be safe and devoid of crime. While it’s true that petty crimes happen everywhere at some time or another, you’ll want to choose a neighborhood where you’re free to walk around, interact with neighbors, and let your children play outdoors.
If you’re concerned about the crime rate in an area you’re considering, contact the local police department. They can provide you with statistics for that particular neighborhood.
Access to amenities
While it’s likely you don’t want what your yard to back up to that busy mega shopping center; a good location indicates that you are relatively close to amenities that include places such as hospitals, banks, supermarkets, doctors’ offices, parks, playgrounds, and more. A “good” location may not mean it’s walking distance to these places, but a reasonable few minutes ride in a car is ideal.
Access to or view of water/beach
If you’re in a beach or vacation community, an ideal location is one that’s close to or on the water. If you’re in a town with a lake, then a view of the lake or a piece of lakefront property constitutes the perfect spot.
Similarly, if you’re in a locale where a different kind of natural attraction is the centerpiece, such as in the mountains, then whatever view is most desirable makes that location the most valuable.
Of course, you’ll need to remember that you’ll pay extra for that much-coveted lot or that perfect view but, again, in the long-run, the investment will pay off if you’re able to spend a little (or a lot) more.
Ease of Travel
If you’re considering buying a city property, often a good location is considered one with easy access to public transportation like buses or subways. A home in an urban setting may also be deemed ideal because it’s within reasonable walking distance of many of the places you frequent, like your job or perhaps a vibrant restaurant and nightlife district you visit often.
If you’re in a location where access to freeways or other roads is essential, look for a home that’s far enough from those highways to avoid the noise and traffic but close enough to make travel to work or other destinations as easy as possible.
On the other hand…
Sometimes, a “bad” location has a lot to do with the buyer’s opinion of a particular area. For example, some families may like being across the street from an elementary school, while others would find it off-putting. However, there are several common indicators that a neighborhood is less-than-desirable, and these include:
· Close proximity to firehouses or airports (noise)
· Close proximity to highways and busy intersections (traffic and noise)
· Home situated in a poor-performing school district
· Home situated in a high-crime area
Remember to ask your realtor for the statistics you need to make a smart choice. He/she should be able to provide you with plenty of information about the neighborhood you’re considering. You can also do some research on your own by checking stats on the internet or by contacting the local Chamber of Commerce or other civic agencies in that vicinity.