What Makes a Home's Location "Good"

By Dan Rafter on 23 April 2018 0 comments

You've probably heard that only three things matter when it comes to real estate: location, location, location. But what does that mean? When you're looking for a home, what makes a location a truly good one?

Here are the factors that matter the most when searching for that perfect location. (See also: How to Research a Home's Location Before You Buy)

How much are other homes selling for?

Ideally, you want to buy a home in a neighborhood where home values are rising. This is an indication of demand — people want to live in the neighborhood you are considering.

Your real estate agent can give you a history of home prices in the communities you are targeting, whether prices are on the rise, and what the average home in the area sells for.

How long is it taking homes to sell?

Your real estate agent can also show you recent home sales in the neighborhoods you are considering. Look at the prices homes have fetched, of course. But also consider how long it takes homes to sell. This is another good indicator of the demand within a certain location. If homes are selling quickly — a month or less — you're looking at an up-and-coming neighborhood.

How good are the schools?

Quality schools are one of the most important features for homebuyers. This isn't surprising: Think of how many people buy homes as they are starting families, or how many people move into bigger homes as their family grows.

When you are ready to buy, pay close attention to the schools in the area, even if you don't have school-age children. Being near a good school will add value to your home, making it more attractive to buyers if you should later decide to sell.

You can look up the local school rating on Zillow, or get information on a school's overall performance on GreatSchools, which offers data on test scores, student progress, equity, and reviews. You can also check the school report cards for the public schools in the area. These report cards, maintained by your state's board of education, will give you a snapshot of how students are performing on national tests. (See also: How to Evaluate a Neighborhood Before You Buy)

Is there much crime?

It's no surprise that locations with lower crime rates are considered more desirable than those with higher ones. But, there is a caveat here: If you're looking for a home in a bustling neighborhood filled with restaurants, shops, and entertainment, these areas often have higher crime rates due to the added foot traffic and activity. This can lead to an increase in thefts, car break-ins, and shoplifting.

That doesn't mean, though, that a busy, popular neighborhood isn't a good location. The positives of a bustling urban area can outweigh the increase in crime that comes with them.

Is it a walkable location?

There's still a market for suburban homes, but a growing number of buyers are looking to live in a neighborhood where they can walk to public transportation, restaurants, grocery stores, bars, and shops. You can check out how walkable a neighborhood is by visiting WalkScore and entering an address. The higher the walk score — on a scale of 0 to 100 — the more errands and activities you can complete on foot.

Are there unfixable problems nearby?

There are plenty of problems with homes that you can fix; you can update that 1970s-era kitchen or add that missing bathroom. But there are also plenty of issues you can't fix, especially if they're part of the greater location.

For instance, most buyers consider a busy main street to be a negative, which is something you can't fix. Another example? Train tracks running behind the backyard. There's nothing you do can do to muffle the roar of passing trains or get those tracks moved.

When looking for a home, turn your attention to more than just what you don't like about the interior. Make sure that there aren't any unfixable negatives nearby that might chase future buyers away. A home that sits on a busy street might cost less than it would in a quieter part of town, but this means that it will sell for less, too. (See also: 14 Things You'll Hate About Your Next House)

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