It pains me to admit it . . . it’s such a tired old cliche . . . but it’s true: Location, Location , Location.
The way we interpret that has been a little askew – the notion that there are right locations and wrong locations, good locations and bad locations – but your location, and more important, your understanding of the strengths of your location, are key.
No, there are no right and wrong locations. Almost every location is ideal for someone.
Young families often want a location near a particular school.
Working people often target a neighborhood based on commute.
Urban hipsters want to enjoy the nightlife of the ‘hood on foot.
Families on tight budgets often want affordability and seek areas where that’s possible.
When you begin to look for your dream home, start with lifestyle: what is yours? How do you like to spend your everydays? What are the activities that drive your life? What’s important in keeping you and your family moving forward? Get a picture of the kind of neighborhood that will support that . . . and then look for it.
Fill in a few blanks:
I want to be able to ________________.
I really like to ___________________.
It’s important that we ________________.
We are usually very clear about how far: how far away from X and Y we are willing to live. So take your local map, plot X and Y and then draw that meandering circle that sets the limit of that distance. That line will become the boundary of your ballpark, the large area inside which you will look for your lifestyle.
Don’t worry about what anybody else thinks. It’s your lifestyle, not theirs. The exception is your REALTOR. who should be on board with your process and can point out pluses and minuses you may have missed.
Not until you have identified the locations where you can be happy living can you get down to how many bedrooms and baths, house vs. condo, ranch or split-level. Those things don’t matter until you have found your location.
When considering a location, do a little field reconnaissance before adding it to the acceptable list. Go to the local supermarket during a busy time – often 5-ish in the afternoon – and shop. These are the people who will be your neighbors: what do you think? Get up early and go hang out in a coffee shop or get a guest pass to the gym. Drive the neighborhood – or drive your commute to and from the neighborhood – during rush hour. Pay attention to the children (they are wonderful barometers): do they seem generally happy? Or are they more on the angry and spaced-out side?
If you are selling, do the same kind of exercise. Discover (or re-discover) what kind of people live in your neighborhood. What is the lifestyle? The average age? What do your neighbors like to do? You probably think you already know this, but if you’ve been in your home for awhile, you may be surprised at how things have changed when you weren’t paying attention!
Do this as a seller to get a picture of your target. What kind(s) of people are most likely wanting to live in your neighborhood? Once you have that in mind, how would you go about reaching them? It’s one of the topics of conversation in every good listing consultation. You probably ought to hear your agent say something like:
The most likely buyer for your home will probably be a family with school aged kids wanting to be close to Emerson Elementary. I’m going to market to those people specifically by doing X, Y, and Z.
Location – yours and the one you want to have – is real estate bedrock. It is location that will enable you to love your home or not like it so much. When you begin to look, or prepare to sell, spend a little time getting very clear on location. Then get moving!