We’re often told that the most important thing when buying a home is location, location, location, but do you understand what that means exactly? It means homes can go up or down in value based on where they’re located. (That’s why some people buy fixer uppers in good neighbourhoods.)
Location, location, location is the number one rule in real estate, yet many buyers overlook it. You can improve your home in many ways. You can upgrade the flooring, renovate the kitchen and throw on a deck, but the one thing you can’t change is the location. You could have the nicest house on the block, but if your neighbourhood is going downhill, you could have a tough time selling it.
Signs of a Good Location
- Safe neighbourhood: Before you buy, contact the local police department and ask about crime rates. You don’t want to find out after moving in that your neighbour has already been burglarized twice this year.
- Good schools: This is especially important if you have children and for resale value. You’ll want your kids to have a bright future.
- Transportation: Easy access to public transit and freeways is a bonus.
- Amenities: Look for a location close to desirable parks and amenities like restaurants and shopping.
- View: The view is especially important if you’re buying a condo. It can be a key selling feature.
- New developments: Be on the lookout for new developments nearby, like condos. If neighbours are topping up their homes (adding a second-floor addition and redesigning the main floor), it’s also a good sign.
Signs of a Poor Location
- Undesirable factors: Being too close to a fire station, a noisy schoolyard, railroad tracks or the freeway can hurt your home’s resale value.
- High crime rate: Crime doesn’t pay.
- Lack of pride of ownership: Are there lots of rental properties in the area? Are the homes and businesses run down?
Urban or Suburban?
Are you looking to live in the city, or do you prefer the suburbs? Deciding between urban and suburban can be as difficult as choosing between a house and condo.
Living in the city has its benefits. You’re closer to where all the action is. Usually, plenty of restaurants, shops and entertainment venues are nearby. You’ll save money and time on transportation if you’re within walking distance of work. You may not even need a car.
Urban living isn’t without its drawbacks. Since you’re buying in a prime location, you’ll typically pay more for less. In an urban area, you may only be able to afford a condo. Some people are suited for the condo lifestyle. If you’re used to living in a house, it might be a tough adjustment.
In the suburbs, you can typically stretch your home-buying dollar further. If you’re planning to raise kids, a house with a yard may be a priority. You may not have nightlife at your doorstep, but you’ll likely have the great outdoors—enjoy parks and outdoor activities.
For some, the biggest downside to the suburbs is the distance from downtown. If you work downtown, your travel time will be longer. You’ll also be farther from downtown shopping and entertainment.
Brought to you by Sean Cooper