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Location has a new meaning

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The definition of what makes a great location appears to be changing, says Shaun Rademeyer, CEO of bond originator BetterLife Home Loans.

Location, price and security are generally the “big three” for homebuyers, and that will no doubt continue to be the case, but the definition of what makes a great location appears to be changing, says Shaun Rademeyer, CEO of bond originator BetterLife Home Loans.

“The focus used to be on potential investment returns, and buyers would scramble to buy in areas which had proved to deliver above-average property value growth, or where prices had continued to rise even when the economy was not doing so well. Now, however, lifestyle factors are coming to the fore.

“Buyers will target a certain school they want their children to attend, and buy a home close to that school. Or they will buy in an area close to work so they don’t have to spend hours commuting, or in an area close to the beach or with a lively nightlife,” he says.

“The way they envisage living in their new home and community has, in many instances, become more important than the returns they stand to make when they sell that property. This is of relevance to sellers and their agents because it presents an opportunity to target buyers based on their interests and preferences.”

Rademeyer says the shift in priorities may have something to do with that first-time buyers are much older, on average, than their parents were when they bought their first homes. They do not expect, or want, to move as often as their parents did.

“Many first-time homebuyers now are in their mid-thirties, and in many instances they are buying a ‘forever’ home in which they intend to raise their family and bequeath or sell to their children when they retire. They are looking for locations they feel will offer all the facilities they need in the long term, and a community to which they can relate.”

Sellers usually focus on the specific details and features of their homes, and forget to paint a bigger picture for prospective buyers. “Factors like easy freeway access, great local schools, friendly neighbours, a local nature reserve, a beach nearby or shops and restaurants within walking distance of home can make all the difference when a buyer chooses your home over a similar property in another area.”

South Africa is not the only country where this is happening, he says. A US survey showed homeowners wanted:

* Ease of commuting by car – 38%.

* Access to health and safety services – 34%.

* Family-friendly neighbourhood – 33%.

* Proximity to shopping centres – 32%.

* Access to cultural activities – 21%.

* Public transport access – 19%.

* Nightlife and restaurant access – 18%.

* Easy access to golf courses – 6%.

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