"Location, location, location" are the cornerstones of property value and neighborhood popularity. Evaluating this seemingly-simple, triple-impact factor goes beyond merely checking out the street address.
Yes, proximity to the places you and family members regularly must or want to visit is an important factor in identifying an ideal location. However, there's more to accessing location than an address.
Walkability has many definitions which largely differ by walking purpose: destination-driven, exercising, socializing, exploring, enjoying the outdoors…. Measures of walkability can be useful and may add to market value, but these scores are not absolute, so investigate the reference source and measurement approach. Experiment by walking where you and family members would walk and when. There may be obstacles, like very busy streets, that would affect whether walking would be the best transportation choice.
Nearby Shopping used to be a big location factor, but online shopping has taken the shine off this convenience for many buyers. In some areas, malls are falling into disrepair and closing. Would that be a concern for you? In other locations, new large-scale commercial ventures are underway in or closer to residential areas. How would you feel about having a big box store on your doorstep?
Developments especially large-scale projects, condominium towers, multiple-housing complexes, and commercial ventures, increase density, traffic, noise, and pressure on schools and community services. Years of planning and arguing proceed ground breaking, so today's quiet streets may reveal little sign of what will begin once you move in. Ask a lot of questions about local development.
Street Status exists in most neighborhoods, which themselves each carry different status. Certain streets confer status on residents. Which street, side of the street, or end of the street carries greater real estate value or status? One end of the street may be closer to shopping and the other to parks. What do you value regarding physical location?
Sunshine is valued by most buyers, even though they may appreciate it for different reasons, ranging from gardening to solar energy. In some areas, south-facing backyards are more popular and, in others, it's south-facing fronts. What is blocking sunlight to the property now and what might block it in the future?
Teardowns or properties more valued as building sites than homes, exist in most established neighborhoods. How many teardowns surround the real estate? Teardowns are not all dilapidated
structures. In many areas, attractive bungalows and two-storeys are demolished to build mega-homes, perhaps like the one you are interested in. During the demolition and build, neighbors are plagued by noise, dust, lack of parking, and inconsideration that can mean restricted use of their own properties for a year or two. What's planned around the property?
Neighbors may include Airbnb hosts and other home-based business owners, some of whom may conduct their ventures in ways that end up disturbing neighbors. Many municipalities and police receive complaints from homeowners concerned about what businesses are doing around their property.
Schools particularly popular ones, can be a big influence on a location decision for those with children to educate.
Transportation carries different importance for different buyers. Have public transit and road systems kept pace with rising population in the area? Are neighborhood-changing transportation projects like rapid transit scheduled to begin in the next year or so? Will the bulk of related construction stress fall near this property?
Infrastructure is an often-overlooked factor. How recently have bridges and main roads, essential for access to the area and downtown, been up-dated and up-graded? Have water and sewage
services been upgraded to serve growing populations? Or, will you face months, if not years, of "under construction" streets around your home?
Break-ins tend to be more common in some areas than others. Who keeps the neighborhood safe? What's their track record? Do most neighbors have their own home security system? Are community safety groups active?
Water Supply and shortages can be an issue. Droughts seem more common and last longer. How prepared is the community to handle water shortage? Do summer shortages affect lawn watering and landscaping, making local drought-resistant plants and no-grass front yards essential? Are bush fires a recurring threat?
Flooding in low-lying areas and drainage basins can be a threat. Could rising water plague that real estate or the immediate area or access? How affordable and attainable is property
flood insurance in this area? When was the last time flooding was an issue and what happened during clean up? If the property is waterfront, is shore erosion or rising water an issue? Is the waterfront often fouled with dead algae or other smelly matter?
Traffic is more of a concern in urban areas. Is the residential area under traffic calming and speed-management strategies to reduce rush-hour traffic through the area? If there are speed bumps, how are fire and emergency vehicles affected? Is there a plan to add or remove traffic calming and why?
Airplanes can disrupt family life even if a property is not close to an airport. The increase in frequency of planes taking off and landing at all hours has many neighborhoods, even those distant from airports, plagued by airplane noise. Circling a city to land, means planes travel over many homes drowning out conversations and disrupting sleep. Just popping in for an open house or viewing may not make you aware of a noisy flight-path problem.
Landscaping and mature trees enhance neighborhoods. Large trees can present hazards as they age. Are trees downed in storms replaced? What invader species are working their way through the area to undermine outdoor enjoyment?
History of the home or location may be a concern in special cases. Has anything happened on the property or near it that has led locals to consider the real estate less favorably?
Pollution — air, noise, or water —is a problem in some areas? What is being done to reduce the ill-effects for residents?
Taxes are a key location-driven affordability factor. All of the above can impact how quickly property taxes and municipal fees go up. What's the pattern of increase in the area? How does local government raise the funds it needs to maintain quality of life in the area?
Don't panic. All these factors will not affect every property.
Our point is that buyers should find out which, if any, of these issues could significantly affect their new home, its market value, and their life at that location before they buy.
- Concentrating too heavily on interior decor and not on relevant listed issues above, may leave buyers vulnerable to unpleasant realities after moving in.
- What could buyers do about surprises like those listed above after they move in?
- Would issues like these affect what buyers are prepared to pay for that real estate in the first place?
Who can possibly know all these details about a property?
- The property owner, or at least the smart ones, keep up on what is going on at or near their location because all of this affects property value and enjoyment.
- Neighors know a lot —maybe more than sellers realize.
- Local real estate professionals know this and more because local knowledge and market value are what their work centers on. Listing professionals spend time with sellers to explore the history of the property and the area. Between them they know what's going on locally and how that property will be affected.
- The local real estate professional or buyer's agent who assists you in finding the right real estate for your needs and budget has access to the owner's knowledge and that of the listing professional through the Multiple Listing Service. This plus their own local knowledge should help you understand the listed factors relative to the real estate you are considering.