Trade-offs. They’re what happens whenever you’re going to make a major purchase, like buying a home. The two primary considerations when buying a home are the house itself, and the area where it’s located. Which is more important?
Let’s take a look at the various components of each consideration, and then decide which is more important.
Considerations For the House Itself
When house hunting, most people look for the right home. After all, it’s where your life will be centered, and it has to be a good fit. Considerations to look for in this regard include:
Size of the House. Any house that you buy has to have the necessary space that you will need to live comfortably. And if you have a young family, or plan to, you will need to have plenty of growing room available. It isn’t just the square footage of the home either. You may also determine that you need to have a basement, for added living space later on, or even plenty of room in the attic for long-term storage.
Layout of the House. This consideration is often more important than the size of the house. You may need a certain number of bedrooms, bathrooms, or even garage space. If you do a significant amount of work from home, and especially if you are completely home-based, you’ll also need a dedicated office.
The flow of the property can also be important. For example, if you like to entertain, you will be interested in a home that has easy passage between the kitchen, living room, dining room, and maybe even a family room.
Quality of Construction. This is a more important consideration than people often give it. Low-quality construction can be an indication that you will have to put a substantial amount of money into the home in the future. In that regard, a well-constructed home can save you money in the long run. It’s probably not a good idea to look past construction quality issues under the assumption that you will simply replace any defects at a later date.
The Property the House Sits On. This can be a really important consideration if you have big plans for the backyard. For example, if you like to entertain, need a large play area for your children or a dog, want to install a big backyard swimming pool, or if you plan to have a large vegetable garden, a large, well-situated backyard will be important.
Still another consideration is distance from neighbors. If you like your life on the quieter side, you probably want a house that sits on a property that has large buffers from the neighbor’s homes.
Emotional Appeal. This is a consideration that is impossible to describe, other than to say that you will know it when you see it. That is, you will know that the house is the right one for you and your family when it simply feels right. Perhaps more than anything, that means that you can see your family living in the home, and growing into it as the years pass.
Ironically, you might pass over a home that is perfect in virtually every objective way, in favor of that one place that simply feels right.
Permissible Uses of the Home. This will be important if you plan to make modifications to the home, or if you have needs for the property beyond simply just a place to live. For example, if you operate a certain type of business, is the property right for it? This will depend largely upon local zoning ordinances, but the property will also have to be consistent with that use.
Since your credit can impact your interest rate, you should know what kind of shape it’s in. If it’s not in great standing, you may want to take steps to improve it before you refinance.
Considerations With the Location
Where the property is located will affect everything in your life outside of the home itself. That will include your occupation, your social activities, and recreational activities. Considerations concerning location include:
The “Three Rules of Real Estate.” You’ve probably heard this one before – it’s location, location, location. This is a concept advocated by most real estate experts. Yes, it’s a bit of overkill, but the point is well taken. The location of a property is generally the single most important consideration. This usually has major implications about the future value of the home. Some neighborhoods and communities simply appreciate faster than others.
Proximity to Work. Most homebuyers consider this factor primarily in regard to how long it will take them to commute to their current job. But considering that most jobs last only a few years, you should also give careful consideration to proximity to general employment centers. If you move to a location simply because it’s close to your current job – but not any potential replacement jobs – you could be setting yourself up to make a forced move to follow a new job in the future.
Proximity to Shopping, etc. This is all about convenience. The distance from shopping, banking, restaurants, and other services will have a major impact on how much time you spend in your car. Do you want a location where primary services are within say, one mile, or are you okay driving 10 miles to get to wherever you need to go?
Proximity to Amenities. This can include recreational amenities, as well as cultural centers. It’s usually more expensive to purchase a home located near these amenities, but if they’re important to you and your family, a close location may be necessary.
The School District. The primary concern is, of course, getting the best education for your children. But even if you don’t have any children, the quality of the local school district has a major impact on the resale value of your home. Properties that are located in desirable school districts tend to hold their value better than those that are in less desirable districts.
The Community the House is Located In. While you can customize your home to fit your own personal preferences, you will generally have little impact on the community around you. This is why it’s so important to choose a community that you will be proud to live in.
For example, do you want an older community with established traditions? Do you want to live in a community that has a lot of public activities, or do you mostly keep to yourself? The community that the house is located in is a given, and your only chance to affect where that will be will happen when you first purchase the home.
What’s More Important – The House or Where It’s Located?
Which is more important, the house itself or where it’s located? In a perfect world, you will find the perfect house in the perfect location. But since this isn’t a perfect world, you will most likely have to choose one over the other.
Both are important, but location should be the first consideration. This is because the home itself can usually be modified to match your personal preferences – at least to some degree. But the location of the property can never change. Whatever is taking place in the community that the home is located in has already been determined, and is unlikely to change.
The best strategy is to find the right location and then to find the right house in that location. But find the right house in the wrong location, and you’ll probably be moving in just a few short years.