Ask just about any real estate agent to list the three most important things a property should have, and you will likely hear: “location, location, location.”
But why does location matter so much? For starters, you cannot move a home at least not easily or inexpensively. When you buy a home in a good location, it is usually a solid long-term investment.
Real estate agents often advise their clients to buy the worst house a property that could use some tender loving care on the best block. Why? Because fixing up a home in a great neighborhood will give you the best return on your investment. Quite simply, it will be easier to sell later on. Conversely, you can buy a beautiful home that does not need any work. But if the block is sketchy or just plain bad, you could have a hard time selling the property at a decent price.
So if “location, location, location” is so important, what makes a location good? Here are five characteristics to look for when buying a home. If you can get all five, chances are the home is a great investment.
- A safe neighborhood
People want to live where there is little or no crime. Naturally, they want to feel safe in their homes and will pay extra for it. A safe neighborhood means people will feel free to walk around, be outdoors and interact with their neighbors. Communities still exist today where people do not lock their doors, and they know their neighbors are there for them in a pinch.
2. Good schools
Being in a good school district is important, even if you do not have school-age kids and never plan to have any. Fact is, young families always will be buying their first or second homes. They will do their home search based on location in general and good school districts in particular. The better the school district, the higher the values of the surrounding homes can be.
Found a home you love but the school district is subpar? Be aware of that issue for resale down the road. Bottom line: When you buy a home, you should always think like a future seller.
3. Convenient access to popular places, shops and restaurants
Everyone wants to be near the best commercial districts. The closer to the hubbub of a particular town or the best parts of a city, the better the location and the more someone is willing to pay for a home. In beach communities, the closer to the beach, the more valuable the property.
4. Water access and views
No matter which town or city, someone will always pay for a great view or to be on or near the water. Put a home right on a waterway or on a hill with panoramic views and you have a great location.
5. Access to public transit and/or freeways
In major cities, the farther you live from the bus, subway or other types of mass transit, the less valuable the home. A good location means being very close, and having easy access, to public transportation. Being near a train or bus can get you anywhere in a short amount of time. In some towns, where a commute by car is inevitable, easy access to the freeway makes for a good location. Adding 20 minutes to a commute just to get to the freeway never helps a location.
Some “good” and “bad” qualities simply vary by community. If you know your local community, you know which parts of town are less or more desirable.
Location, location, location really does matter a lot. But as always, the most important thing is to buy the right home for you, at the right time.