Why Location Matters & How to Scout Out the Best Spot When Buying Your First Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/15/17 10:25 AM

Topics: First Time Home Buyer Property Location home buying Home Value

“Location, location, location” wouldn’t be the real estate industry’s catchphrase if it didn’t hold any weight. Nevertheless, the slogan is right. You can change a home but you can’t change its location. Here’s why location matters when it comes to a potential home purchase and how to scout out the best neighborhood to buy in.

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©iStockphoto/kevinruss

Why Your Town or City Matters

When trying to determine a good home location, you can start by looking at the community, town or city in which a home is located. A town with a viable economy and healthy mix of residential commercial districts provides residents with job opportunities and revenue to maintain roads and city services. Communities, towns and cities that are well-maintained invoke a sense of community pride, upping the value of homes in the area.

Why Your Local Neighborhood Matters

The local neighborhood refers to the residential area and surrounding necessities like grocery stores, gas stations, hospitals, public transportation, etc. Homebuyers should look for quality and convenience.

Even if a homebuyer doesn’t have school-age children, buying in a good school district is another factor to consider. For example, a recent study by ATTOM Data Solutions found that 2016 median home prices in zip codes with good schools were up 4.5 percent from 2006 whereas median home prices in zip codes lacking good schools were down 1 percent from 2006.

How to Scout a Good Location

A “good” location is subjective when it comes to a homebuyer’s personal preferences. When trying to make a good investment decision, it helps to have objectivity.

For an in-depth look at a property’s neighborhood demographics, median home prices, school systems, crime rates, comparable properties, average commute time, etc., head over to Neigbhorhood Scout. Love the neighborhood you’re currently in but are moving out of town or out of state? Neighborhood Scout will tell you where to start your search for a compatible area.

Other things to keep in mind include:

  • The renter-owner balance – if you’ve made the decision to buy a home, you’re likely planning to stay awhile and are looking for a neighborhood with stability. An area saturated with rental homes, condos, etc. may mean you will have a higher neighbor turnover.
  • Walkability – look for how easy it is to get to the nearest coffee shop, park, playground, etc. Walkability is a real estate buzzword for homebuyers who like the option of making some of their day-to-day errands on foot or bike. To see a potential home’s walkability, visit Walkscore.
  • A location that will work for years to come – will a home’s location suit your needs five years down the road?
  • A home improvement-motivated neighborhood – look at the other homes in the neighborhood. What is their upkeep like? Neighbors who take care of their homes are good for your own home value.

For more information about finding and buying your first home, download our free Mortgage 101 Handbook.

Download: Mortgage 101 Handbook

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