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Location USA, Location USA, Location USA

We all know the property mantra: “The three most important things to consider when buying a property are location, location, location.” When you buy a home in America that rule stays the same, but the factors that combine to make a great location do change. Here’s our guide to the most important factors to consider when weighing up a property purchase in the United States of America.

1) School district

Whether or not you have children of school age, you should be aware that most buyers do; it is therefore important to evaluate the school district the property is located within. When the time comes to sell this will likely be an important factor in your persuading a buyer to purchase your home. Your real estate agent should be able to show you State reports on the schools within the district.

Do your own research: Get in your car and drive past the local schools. Do they look in good repair? Call the schools and ask them about class sizes.

2) Local taxes

Each city raises taxes in the form of an annual levy based on the assessed value of your home. Rates can vary widely depending on how well each city is being managed or the fiscal philosophy of the local government.

Do your own research: Make yourself aware of city boundaries. Always check property listings for taxes; if they are not mentioned on the listing, ask!

When comparing two properties, always compare the respective taxes just as you would compare any other feature of the home. Look out for special assessments and pending special assessments which may be coming down the road for neighbourhood improvements which are in the planning stages.

3) Local amenities

You will need to ensure that your neighbourhood has suitable amenities. At the top of your list should be freeway access, convenience stores, gas stations and eateries.

Do your own research: Back in your car again. Drive downtown in the rush hour; how long does it take?

4) Neighbourhood appeal

This is a big one. First of all, as you approach the home pay attention to the neighbouring properties. Are the lawns mown and the picket fences painted? Look out for boats, trucks and even cars parked in driveways instead of inside a garage; all these are considered bad form in the better neighbourhoods.

Do your own research: Keep your eyes open before you reach the property and after you leave. You are buying the neighbourhood as well as the property. Visit the local coffee shop, grab a coffee and do some people-watching. Here you will see a full cross-section of the people who will make up your local community.

5) Properties to avoid

Unlike in some parts of the UK, corner plots in America are to be avoided. Buyers resist these properties because they are associated with a higher level of traffic. Two roads means more cars. If you are buying in a sub-division try to buy in the centre of the division, as the outskirts again can be perceived as close to main roads and busier due to traffic entering the neighbourhood. Make sure the road you want to buy is not a busy cut-through. Being too close to schools and other communal buildings such as churches is perceived as a negative. If you are buying a single family home, try to avoid mixed areas of housing where apartments and condominiums are mixed into the neighbourhood.

Do your own research: Visit the property at different times of the day, evening and night. Specifically check the traffic flow during the morning and evening rush hours as well as the school rushes.

© Brits in 2005 – No reproduction without express written permission.

2 Responses to “Location USA, Location USA, Location USA”

  1. John Rebell

    Good assessment, and good points. Something I’d like to add is also look at the “growth pattern” of the city. Cities are expanding. You want to look for a location that is more or less outside the city, but still in the direction of expanding growth.

    The reasons for this are two-fold.
    1.) You’ll get a lower price on your property, and
    2.) your property will be worth more when you go to sell it. As now, the growth path has caught up and you’re now in a desirable section of the city.

    Also beware of properties that are firmly in the “desired” section of town. RE agents will talk them up the most, but in reality these properties are on their way down, value-wise. You’re buying at “High” instead of “Low.” When you get ready to sell, this will count against you.

  2. Dave McMahon

    Excellent points, John.

    To maximise your profit on selling, I suppose you’d want to spot the up-and-coming areas just before they become up-and-coming – if you can put up with any short-term lack of amenities, of course!

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