News flash: homebuyers care about the perceived quality of a property. Though hardly news to agents, the 2011 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, just released in November, found that 67 percent of homebuyers decided upon their property mainly for that reason.
Carole VanSickle, though, writing in the Bryan Ellis Real Estate Letter, highlights an intriguing nuance to quality, arguing that a property’s location, and the way it allows access to those hallmarks of quality, are just as important for a property’s success.
“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,” VanSickle writes.
For VanSickle, location, location and location are those other factors. For instance, transportation is often mentioned as a housing perk, but how close is the property to the various agents of transportation? Is it near a train station? A busy intersection? An interstate highway? Moreover, beyond the home’s vicinity to forms of transit, where does the transit go? Does a train lead straight to employment centers and big attractions?
Beyond transportation, though, what is the walking score of the property? Bustling downtown areas, with fabulous cuisine, charming shops and flourishing artistic havens, are always a big draw for prospective homebuyers, but imagine the appeal if a homeowner can walk to those downtown centers?
To answer those questions and more, VanSickle recommends doing some legwork on the community. Along with vetting the area’s neighbors and researching what the town’s homeowner’s association has planned for the various seasons, she also mentions the value in government records.
“(C)heck into the local government records to determine what type of municipal planning goes on in the area,” she writes. “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.”
As we’ve reported before, though, walkability and transportation are more than selling points, but tangible purveyors of value with substantial data backing them up. Walk Score, for instance, is an entire database devoted to the value of a property’s walkability, and a 2009 study by CEOs for Cities found that areas with an above-average walkability score commanded premiums as high as $34,000 for properties – tens of thousands in additional value, simply because a grocery chain, video store and subway station were just a block away.
So though the convenience of walking and transit are often the first thing on anybody’s mind, the incredible value it can add to a property is equally potent.