Choosing your new home’s location is an important first step to maintaining your home’s value.
“Location, location, location” has been the Golden Rule of real estate advice for so many years, it would not be surprising that those in the industry repeat it in their sleep. A good location can translate either into a higher purchase price or a better-appreciating home in the long run, and a less than desirable location can be cause for concern and hesitation to a new home buyer.
What are some of the traits of a seemingly less than desirable location? Beauty can sometimes be in the eye of the beholder, but common ones can range from the prospect of a too-busy street, commercial buildings within view, the nature of future development slated in the area, a traffic-producing school nearby, or a house that backs up to the street in some real estate minds. Although it makes sense to consider all of these elements and more when scrutinizing location, you may want to look at the flip side of this usually less-than-full-priced investment for some of the silver linings it may offer. As they say; there’s a driver for every seat, and a car for every driver out there.
Evaluating the location
Rather than counter each one of these so-called detriments to location, let’s just talk about one; a home backing up to a street. Home sites that have roads directly behind them may be among the last to be sold because of the perception of being less popular with buyers. So what are some of the considerations of a purchase of this location?
For one, not having a backyard “neighbor” can create a more private play area for your home. The lack of neighbors overlooking you or peering through the fence can add to this sense of privacy. In many new home neighborhoods, costly, decorated concrete block walls grace the perimeter of the community. These types of fencing can look great for many years to come, are relatively maintenance-free and create an even more elegant backyard landscape area. They are also noise-abating and secure, compared to the redwood variety.
Traffic and the noise it can crate can enter into your decision to buy a new home whose backyard borders a street, so there’s one simple way buyers can test the current noise situation; visit the home site or home at many different times of the day. Take a small tape recorder and set the volume at the same setting each time, documenting the day of the week and time of day you are doing the testing.
Try commute times, school dismissal times, rainy days (if possible) and especially night time, when you may be affected by noise the most because it is when you are most likely to be home (unless you work nighttime shifts, when the opposite would be true.)
If the house is partially or fully constructed, ask the sales consultant if he or she will permit you to enter the house or a house in a similar location and open some windows to test for noise levels as well. Think about when noise affects you and your family most, whether any streetlights or headlights will affect your domestic tranquility or whether they may make you feel more secure because of their illumination.
Will you have a pool in your yard someday? Pools are real noisemaker on your side of the fence, so would it be easier to let your kids go wild when there’s no backyard neighbor to complain? Many pool builders now offer waterfalls and spouts that are pleasant noisemakers in their own right. Will this help to abate any street noise at certain times of the day? Research the community
Call or visit the community’s city planning department and try to find out what the future of that street may be. Many new home areas are now planned so that there is a “buffer” landscaping strip behind the fence on perimeter homes, usually maintained by the homeowners or city, that can add to the attractiveness of the site. Find out whether the street may eventually be cut through to another area. Is this a major surface street or just a neighborhood access street? What is the speed limit? Does the builder use triple-paned noise-abating glass on the back of their houses in these locations or does the city require it?
Some perimeter lots have slope, lifting the home site higher than the street level. If you are building a 2-story home there, find out from the builder if there are any other unoccupied 2-story homes from which you can sample the view.
For the same reasons you may not buy this home site, someone else may. Builders sometimes heavily discount or “incentive-ize” perceivably less than desirably located home sites in order to “move dirt and avoid paying a monthly carry on a home or home site too long, when an appraiser may sometimes not deduct any value for its location. Once the neighborhood is sold out, your home may have some built-in equity because of comparably sized homes that went for full price, making it a more attractive prospect and an even better investment in terms of appreciation.