You have many important decisions to make when buying a home. One of the most crucial relates to location. Choosing the right location matters because it has implications for two significant areas: quality of life and resale value of your home. So, what kinds of things do you look for when trying to find the location that positively impacts living quality and value? Here are some elements to consider as you begin your search:
Amenities that meet your needs. It is important that you have a list in terms of needs, interests, and preferences. Include factors that are important to you such as commute mode and time; recreational, cultural, health care, and shopping facilities; and types and quality of schools. Rank these priorities in terms of importance. That way you will have a clearer idea of whether a location meets all or most of your needs.
Quality of the neighborhood. An obvious point of interest is safety of the area. Check out crime statistics and drive through the neighborhood to see if any areas look unsafe. Observe whether the area is neat and clean or littered with debris. Pay attention to whether the homes are well maintained or beginning to get a run-down look. Get a good overall picture in your mind about the street, the neighborhood and the surrounding community. This includes gauging traffic patterns and volume at different times of the day, as well as checking noise levels from sources such as railroad tracks, airports, or major highways.
Personality of the neighborhood. Yes, neighborhoods have personalities too. And you need to find out what it is and how it fits with yours. How do you determine neighborhood personality? Meet some of the people who live there. Find out what age ranges the neighbors are and what they do for a living. Ask about active neighborhood associations and activities, if any. Walk around, get a feel for the neighborhood, and see if you feel comfortable and welcomed. In other words, if you feel “right at home.”
Demand and property values. Consider how popular the area is. Would it be considered to be up and coming, a situation where you might anticipate value to appreciate at a rapid pace? Or is it on the edge of what is becoming a popular place to live? Sometimes that popularity can spread outward and engulf surrounding neighborhoods with an effect of rising prices and thus property value appreciation. Of course on the other side, areas of low demand, areas where homes are already at a premium price, or areas where prices are stagnant may result in slow or no appreciation in value in the future.
Current and future development. Make a note of any development that is happening at the current time. Is it adding to the value of the area or possibly decreasing value? Also be aware of any future plans for development that could impact your property value and/or your quality of life. This includes finding out if there are any planned changes for roadways or business or commercial development in addition to residential development.
Economic vitality. This applies to the broader community. Get a sense of whether the economy is growing, stable, or stagnant. Look for a healthy mix of commercial and business districts. This provides employment and attracts residents as well as adds to the tax base that can be used for community improvements.
As you conduct your home search, keep in mind that there is no such thing as an absolutely perfect place to live. You will find positive and negative aspects about homes, neighborhoods, and communities. Have your checklist of what is most important to you – what you must have, what would be nice, and what you definitely cannot live without. Use that list to decide your compromises and trade-offs. That way you get as close as possible to your ideal place to live while maximizing your potential future gain in home value.