This may surprise you, but there are sometimes that I don’t always advise people to make location the main priority. I know, almost all my posts say to pick the neighborhood first, then the house.
So, when do I switch up my logic? When I have buyers who want to buy in Lexington for under $120,000, especially under $110,000. Most of the time they are first time homebuyers. Let’s face it, it is hard to get into a house you’d even like in Lex for under that, and there isn’t that much of a difference between most of the neighborhoods. Sure, there are ones to definitely avoid, but for the most part, there isn’t much difference in this price range between Masterson Station and McConnell Springs, Skyview and Southland, and any other neighborhood of similar age and style of houses.
When I’ve been out with first time buyers, they are most interested in a house they like and can live in…..And I can’t blame them. I think I would opt for less of a location to get a house with a 2 car garage and 2 bathrooms verses a slightly better location with only 1 of each. Which is more convenient: Driving further to places you go or waiting for somebody to get out of the only bathroom in the house? When you got to go, the only “Location, Location, Location” you’re thinking about is an available potty!
Which leads me to mention something I read the other day. It said that young folks and first time buyers are heading towards the suburbs, which is contrary to what was predicted just a couple years ago. Now, Lexington doesn’t really have suburbs. The closest we come to the burbs are newer neighborhoods on the edge of town. Not always the most convenient location, but full of affordable houses with more than one bathroom and garage.
I guess I was amazed that was even newsworthy. I mean, that is how it has always been here, and should be obvious to anybody who has ever lived in a one bathroom house.
I’ve worked with enough first time buyers that I know they want the most house they can get, and are willing to compromise on a convenient location.
One of my favorite examples of this was recently. I had some first time buyers who were in this price range. We looked at several houses. Many were older houses with one bathroom and were too small. Others were newer, but had no yard. Like a lot of first time buyers, we started looking on the edge of town for good deal. This was actually better for them since it was easier to get to their jobs.
We got lucky and found a foreclosure. They got a lot of house for the money. All they really needed to do was paint and address some carpet issues. Not everybody gets this lucky. What I like for this couple is that they aren’t going to outgrow this house in a couple of years. That is another reason I tell first time buyers to get the most house they can for the money. See, when a lot of them are coming out of an apartment, 1200 square feet seems big to them. Then a baby comes along, and they are maxed out. They call me, I sell their house, they pay commissions, new closing costs, and moving costs to get into a bigger house. When houses were appreciating rapidly, that was okay. They aren’t now. It just makes more sense to make long term plans these days.
Another reason getting the best house regardless of location makes sense is…..when they go to sell, the next crop of first time buyers will also be wanting to get the most livable house for the money, even if they are on the edge of town or close to nothing.
So, that is one of the few times when focusing on the house more than the location works.