“Mr. Rogers Had It Right”
By: Lori Einhorn
With the recession in mind, it seems easy to pinpoint a prospective buyer’s most important factor in purchasing a home – price. But in fact, this is not the case. In the 2012 Home Buyers Survey taken by the California Association of Realtors, buyers actually identify “neighborhood” as the must have variable when choosing a new home. “Good price” was chosen by only 29% of respondents, not the overwhelming majority as many may have anticipated. Why? Well, there are a few factors.
1. Walk scores: An interesting new dimension of real estate has come into play over the past few years. Sites like www.walkscore.com, calculate the “walkability” or ability to walk to amenities on a 1-100 basis. A home’s walk score has become more important to buyers for health and community benefits. More importantly, walkability has an impact on a home’s price. According to a study conducted by CEOs for Cities, one walk point can increase a home’s value anywhere from $700-$3,000.
2. Schools: Both realtors and potential buyers have always understood the importance that schools can play in a purchasing decision. In the past, many buyers have only focused on elementary and maybe even middle schools but this mentality has changed. Buyers now look at high schools for their children in tandem with all other primary education. Families want to establish themselves and a neighborhood and school system; they plan on staying around for the long haul. Beyond establishment, money is also a factor in this new mentality. Brett Bocook, buyer in Palo Alto stated, “‘Yes, the house costs more in a neighborhood with amazing schools, but does it really? If you rund the numbers on private school for two kids, you very quickly realize that you can afford a larger monthly mortgage payment in exchange for a good school district.’”
3. New vs. Old: Each potential buyer has different circumstances which affects his or her taste in a particular neighborhood. The age of a neighborhood has become important to buyers based on the type of lifestyle they lead. For some, a newer neighborhood is more desirable because of the community aspect including pools or clubs. For others, the idea of living in a new neighborhood with HOA fees and strict rules is unappealing.
With all of these factors in mind, it is easy to understand how neighborhoods have become so important to buyers. Moreover, realtors need to remind their buyers that, “you buy the neighborhood not the home. You can’t change the location but you can change the house.”