We have all heard the experts citing the importance of the location of a property. In fact, they place so much emphasis on this that they often repeat the word three times.
So while just about everyone knows that buying a home in the right area is vitally important, most people are much less certain about what makes a particular location good, or even great.
“There are several key elements,” says Richard Gray, CEO of the Harcourts Real Estate group, “but these days, it all really starts with safety. People naturally prefer to live where there is little or no crime. They want to feel safe in their homes and will pay a premium for this, which is why homes in gated estates and boomed streets generally fetch higher prices than similar properties elsewhere – and appreciate at a faster rate too.”
You can tell when you’re looking at properties in a safe neighbourhood, he says, because residents will feel free to walk around, take part in outdoor activities and interact with their neighbours.
“However, you need to bear in mind that although communities do still exist were people don’t lock their doors at night, these will generally be further from schools, shops and other conveniences, which will lower their potential for property value growth."
Although property situated close to a good school has generally always sold for a premium, in recent times, this has become far more important to those with school going children. Gray notes that homes in a suburb that boasts several top schools or which is close to a university will always be in high demand and enjoy better than average property price growth.
The importance of having good recreational facilities and retail centres should also not be overlooked. Buyers are generally willing to pay more for convenience and will actively search for property in an area where the amenities meet all their expectations.
There are views and then there are views. Seaside properties which boast outstanding sea views are always going to be popular, regardless of the state of the economy. Although those in outlying coastal areas may command lower prices, they will still be more expensive than their inland counterparts.
"Views and water frontage are important," Gray says. “Wherever you are, someone will always pay more if the property has a great view from a hillside, or is on or near the water."
South Africa doesn't have the best public transport system in the world and for this reason it was understandable that a service such as the Gautrain caused such a stir. Those who were selling property close to the various stations quickly realised that they could well be sitting on if not a gold mine, at least a highly desirable property - and priced their homes accordingly.
Buyers may well pay more for living at the 'right' address. However it pays to remember that when it comes time to sell, their chances of making a substantial profit are far better than those who chose to buy a less expensive home in a less desirable neighbourhood.