The three most important words in real estate are … location, location, and location. So what does that mean? Home location is everything, of course. But what’s perfect for one family can be all wrong for another family. (Read: Forever Home Features: Great Schools, Neighborhood, and Views)
As you go through the process of viewing properties, you’ll naturally lean toward a few that you love best. Maybe one has the perfect yard. Another might have spacious bedrooms. Still another may boast a beautiful view.
Once your list has a few homes that you can’t decide among, here’s how to narrow it down to the top three choices.
Is the Home Location Close to Good Schools?
For families with school-age children, the proximity of a home to good schools is one of the top selling points (or drawbacks). You’ll probably stay in your home for at least several years. If your kids are very young and you don’t want to move them to a new school district later, the house you buy could be your home for a decade or more.
Whether a home is located near good schools can be the difference between a good education and lots of friends and opportunities for kids, or the opposite. Choosing wisely now can make a big difference in your children's future.
Conversely, what if you don’t have kids, or they’re already grown? Then this very important selling point isn’t as important to your lifestyle, although it will be a factor when you go to sell the house. If the home you love is in a great area except for schools, then you have a harder decision to make.
Can You Easily Access Shopping and Entertainment from the Home?
You probably don’t shop or go out on the town every day. But when you do, it’s a lot more convenient when you don’t have to drive for an hour to get there.
Home location with regard to shopping and entertainment can make running errands and going out for some fun a little easier, or a little harder. (Read: Picking the Right Neighborhood for Your Family)
And on the opposite side of that coin, living far away from these conveniences is a selling point for some prospective home buyers. Where some people would never want to drive an hour to find a shopping mall, others believe living close to bustling shopping areas is a nuisance. When you’re narrowing down your search, keep in mind how close, or how far, you’d rather be from retail establishments and entertainment.
How Far will You Need to Commute from Home to Work?
Commuting is part of grown up life, unfortunately. Some people drive across town, while others hop a train to the next city. The proximity of the houses on your list to where you work, should play a big role in narrowing down your choices. If you want to take city transportation or ride a bike, you’ll need a home that’s relatively close. And then there are those who telecommute, or people who are retired. If you don’t have a regular office that you report to, then the possibility of a commute is neither a selling point nor a drawback.
For all of the benefits you want in a home location, there will be things you’ll gain and things you’ll lose. That can mean sacrificing square footage and yard space for affordability. If you want to be close to the city, you can expect to pay more money for less house. And if you prefer a home that’s close to good schools but out in the country, your sacrifice might be a lengthy commute.
When finalizing your top three choices, go into it with the understanding that for every plus there’s a minus. When you gain something you want, recognize you’ll probably give up something else.
Homes in or very near the city are historically more expensive, smaller, and probably come with higher taxes. The plus side is the potential for a shorter commute and close proximity to shopping and entertainment. Homes outside the city are generally larger, cost a bit less, and may have better schools. And the downside is a longer commute to work, shopping, and entertainment.
As with everything else, your choices depend on what’s important to you, what you’re willing to sacrifice, and what you want most out of your life.
What are your most important factors in your choice of home location? We would love to hear your take on the subject!