The Reality of “Location, Location, Location”
Why do we realtors state that word three times? To emphasize its importance, and when you ignore that, you will likely regret it.
As a buyer myself, I ignored it twice in the last 30 years. One of those times was when I remustered to a Structural Technician (changed trades) while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. My first posting was to Wainwright, Alberta where housing was pretty pricey, so we decided to purchase a major fixer upper in Czar, Alberta (200 people and 10,000 head of cattle), 50 km south of Wainwright. My thinking was twofold: we could buy a house a lot cheaper in Czar, and this would be good practical experience to experiment with my new construction trade. We could add sweat equity to this house, making a really nice home and still be competitive with the Wainwright market.
My wife Paulette and I spent the next 3 ½ years gutting the house, including the interior walls, kitchen, basement, lighting, electrical … In the end the house turned out beautiful. But when we got posted to the north end of Vancouver Island, no one wanted to buy the house, because we could not compete with the buyers’ desire to live in Wainwright. To make a long story short, we rented the house to the only person who applied, and that person trashed the house. I took time off, came back to Czar, fixed the house up for sale and put it back on the market, selling it for what the market would bear. The lesson here: Buyers will pay a premium to live where they want to live.
“Location, location, location” usually means attractive neighbourhoods close to schools, hospitals, and facilities for entertainment, recreation and shopping. It can mean proximity to a lake or backing onto a park, green space or golf course. Homes in undesirable locations might be next to commercial/industrial buildings, beside railway lines, under flight paths, or in neighbourhoods with high crime rates. Also included are economically depressed areas, where neighbours show zero pride of ownership in maintaining their homes and yards.
Although you will pay a premium to buy in a desirable location, the payback is well worth the extra cost. Desirable locations sell quicker, usually appreciate at a greater rate, and are likely to sell before less desirable locations even when the market is slow.
From my past experiences, if budget is an issue (and when isn’t it?), I would settle for a smaller home located in a desirable location, later moving up to a larger home when I could afford it. It cost me to learn this lesson, but I am happy to pass it on to my clients!