Location, Location,  Location

What is the origin of this phrase that is the mantra of real estate?   Why is it necessary to repeat it three times?  One google search attributes this to some NYC real estate developer William Zackendorf whom you care about deeply I am sure.  He said something like there are only three things that matter in real estate: location, location, location.  In other words the area the property is located in is so important, everything else you could say about it hardly matters.  Since the origin of the phrase isn’t likely haunting you, and if location, location, location is so important, what makes a location good?  Here are some characteristics of “better locations,” because  the perfect “good location” can still be somewhat subjective in the eyes of a buyer.  These are not necessarily in order of priority.

  • Safe Neighbourhood:  People want to feel safe.  They want to live where there’s little or no crime. A safe neighbourhood means people will feel free to walk around, be outdoors and interact with neighbours.
  • Good schools:  Home buyers with children are concerned about their children’s education and often will pay more for a home that is located in a highly desirable school district. Even if you don’t have school-age kids and might never plan to have any, think like a future seller. Young families will often do a home search based on a location in a good school district. 
  • Convenient access to entertainment and shopping:   In many cities, homes that are located within walking distance of movie theaters, restaurants and boutiques are more expensive than those located further outside of town.  Many people would rather not drive if they can walk. FYI, the City of Calgary offers a web site with community walkability scores though weather is likely not taken into consideration.
  • Close to outdoor recreation and nature:  Homes abutting the ocean, rivers, lakes or parks, will hold their value because of that location, providing they are not in the path of a possible natural hazard.  People like to be near water or visually appealing settings though the 2013 flooding in Calgary and High River this year may have changed some people’s minds.    
  • Homes with a view:  Some homes sell quickly because they provide sweeping panoramic views of the city at night, but even a glimpse of the ocean out one window is enough to substantiate a good location.  Other sought after views include mountains, greenbelts or golf courses.                                                                                                                                                                
  • Access to Public transportation, Health Care, Jobs:  In major cities the farther you live from the bus, subway, or other types of mass transit, the less valuable the home. People do not want to ensure long commutes to work, the doctor’s office nor the airport.  Don’t ignore the high cost of commuting. A good location can save you money such as the need for a car(s) and all the costs associated with owning one. When you live close to where you work, you save money.  When you live close to a hiking or biking trail, parks and other recreational services you may be able to eliminate expensive gym fees.                                                                                                                                               
    Location small
  • Conforming areas:  People tend to gravitate towards others who share similar values and their homes reflect it.  Home buyer’s mostly prefer to be surrounded by similar types of properties in age and construction, where people just like them reside.  The neighbours and neighbourhood will influence your outlook on life.   If you want to hang out with people who look and sound just like you, go for it.  If you long to associate with a wide variety of diverse people, different ages, ethnicity, different socio economics, etc., then consider that when choosing your neighbourhood.                                                                                                    
  • Economically Stable areas:   Neighbourhoods that stood the test of time and weathered economic downfalls are more likely to attract buyers who want to maintain value in their homes.  These are people who expect price of ownership to be evident.

What might be some characteristics of a “bad location?”

  • Back yard facing a major freeway.
  • Close proximity to a fire station. (good if your house is on fire, not good if you’re trying to sleep).
  • A hospital (frequent ambulance sirens).
  • An airport, under a flight path (sounds of jet engines 24/7).
  • Next to commercial/industrial buildings.  Home owners cannot control who loiters in front of their home.
  • Crime ridden neighbourhoods.  If the house next door has the windows covered up with sheets instead of regular window coverings and you hear cars coming and going at midnight might be a bad sign.
  • Close to hazards, no one wants to live next to a nuclear power plant and few buyers want a transformer on their yard either.

Location does matter but the important thing is to buy the right home for you, at the right time. It should mean more than just buying an expensive and impressive home in a “good” location to dazzle others.

Think of the location where the critical elements puts the focus on the feelings and benefits that come from where you dwell, rather than what it looks like to others or how big it is to fill up with stuff.   The true value of “location, location, location” will likely occur once any of us live in a place where we feel both happy and peacefully home.