According to a National Association of Realtors Survey released in November 2011, 67 percent of homebuyers made the decision to purchase their home based mainly on the perceived “quality” of the neighborhood. This is hardly surprising; common sense dictates that we will want to like where we live. However, as a seller or a real estate investor, it can be difficult to identify exactly what will attract homebuyers to a property. Of course, some things like the caliber of the local school system and the safety of the area will always play a role, but there are other factors that can play an equally significant part in a homebuyer’s decision to buy and sometimes even override more classic attractions.
When looking for hidden homebuyer attractions, check out the local transportation system and roadways. Will it be easy to get to employment centers and area attractions? Are there options for transportation other than automobile? Are there many employment opportunities nearby? The availability of jobs and entertainment and ease of accessing these locations will play a major role in the attractiveness of a property for nearly a third of all homebuyers, and in urban areas that number is likely to be even higher. Even easy access to an interstate can tip the balance in favor of one property over another.
Another facet of homebuyer attraction lies within the local community. Areas with bustling downtowns filled with small businesses, local shops, grocers and restaurants are generally perceived not only as pleasant places to live, but also good places to invest. Given that even in today’s market the vast majority of homeowners consider their homes to be their primary investment, a thriving downtown area can be a big seller when it comes to moving a property. If these amenities are within walking distance, the property could be even more attractive and the perceived value even higher. If you are not sure how to gauge a downtown’s level of prosperity, check into the local government records to determine what type of municipal planning goes on in the area. Areas with viable and concrete “master plans” or “city visions” tend to create more successful urban-living areas than those without them, so an area with a good plan and support system for implementing it could turn out to be a great investment down the road if you plan to hold the property for a while.
Finally, do the best that you can to vet the neighbors. A friendly neighborhood will be more attractive to buyers who do their homework, so if the community has a productive homeowners association (HOA) that supports a variety of local activities and events like an Independence Day parade or breakfast with Santa for the neighborhood kids, make sure to point these things out. While some people hate HOAs, good ones can actually create a living environment that people simply don’t want to leave, and that is good for home values because it means fewer properties will be for sale in those areas.
What are your secrets to identifying properties that buyers will snap up in a second?
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