Every home buyer has different priorities — you may prefer the countryside to the city, cheek-by-jowl apartment living over roomy suburban family homes — but there are some universal location pros and cons.
Proximity to transport, good schools, parks and beaches, as well as good cafes and local shops, are a few key wishlist items most buyers look for to create a home for now, and also to sell confidently in the future, says Jenny Dwyer, Director of Hocking Stuart Sandringham.
“When people are looking for a home, part of that is also their future wealth being tied up with wherever they are choosing to live. That’s where choosing the right location in a growing city like Melbourne is becoming very, very important,” she says.
Buyers’ advocate Nicole Jacobs, author of SOLD: How to Buy and Sell Your Home With Real Confidence, and a regular on TV renovation show The Block, advises potential buyers to do due diligence on the particulars of the home’s precise location. Her firm uses Landchecker, an online service that offers access to a wealth of information on any individual address, including zoning, boundaries, high-resolution aerial imagery and planning permits and caveats, as well as price history.
“It is one of those due diligence tools that is a must for me when I am looking at property for clients,” she explains. “Everyone should be aiming to get as much information about a property before they buy — don’t take the word of someone else.”
We asked Nicole and Jenny for their expert tips on what to look for and what to avoid when choosing a place to live.
Location features that add value
1. Public transport
Access to transport is a key consideration for buyers of all ages, says Nicole. It affects lifestyle, budgets and even mental health (by way of reducing the stress of sitting in traffic). “Infrastructure surrounding transport and the ease of getting on to a bus, train or tram is really important — having it around the corner is a huge bonus,” she says. If you can’t afford the suburb you really desire, she suggests doing your research into government plans for infrastructure upgrades and buying a property close to the next transport hub.
Families want to be near the schools of their choice, says Nicole, and buy accordingly. This is so kids can travel to and from school without fuss, and feel part of the community by easily attending local sporting and social events. She says it is imperative for families to do their research — new residential developments near popular schools may force those schools to shift or reduce their catchment zone boundaries. “So you really need to buy as close to those schools as possible,” she says.
3. Cafes and local shops
Melbourne’s enduring latte love affair continues to increase the allure of living within walking distance of coffee shop hubs, and Jenny says this demand is also fuelling a resurgence of old-fashioned shopping strips. “There is a trend toward people wanting to shop locally,” she says. “They want to support local communities. Clearly what we have seen recently with the bushfires, I think Australians really want to support one another and if we can do that at a community level in areas that we work and live in, part of that includes cafes and having shops that have that appeal.”
4. Open spaces and water
Not everyone can afford a waterfront view, but Jenny says proximity to water, coastal walks and open parkland cannot be underestimated.
“The appeal of the general health and wellbeing that comes from living by the water for many people, coupled with that access to transport and healthcare make for a very appealing life in a major city,” she says. Ditto for nearby parks where buyers with limited space can enjoy the outdoors with children and pets. “Having access to open parkland, playgrounds and amenities are crucial to parents when choosing a place to raise their family.”
Location features that sting
1. Light-stealing developments
If you buy within 200 metres of a train station in Melbourne, says Nicole, it’s highly likely you will be surrounded by multi-level apartment blocks, which could steal your sunlight and privacy. “While it is nice to be close to a train line, you will have more people living next door and it will impact the sky that you will see,” she says. She recommended checking Landchecker to ensure there are no plans to knock down the three houses next door to build a high-rise building.
2. Noisy roads and flight paths
Buying on a budget can mean compromising on location, and this can mean purchasing a property under a flight path, one that backs on to a train line or is on a very busy road. These should be avoided if possible, says Nicole, for noise pollution and resale reasons. “I always say if you buy on a main road, you sell on a main road,” she says. “People will compromise on that because they can get in to that area and they can get a house that is much bigger on a main road than one street back where it will be in some cases $200,000 more. But most people will be turned off by it.”
3. Industrial areas
Properties situated close to industrial areas are not as well regarded as those in leafier locales and buyers should be aware of health and safety issues associated with living close to factories or in areas serviced by trucks and other heavy vehicles, says Jenny. “Everyone is conscious of their own health and their family’s health so being in an area that offers a very clean environment is best.”
This article originally appeared on the RACV website.