Dodgy suburbs: 6 ways to pick a good home

Homes in areas that boast attractive natural features tend to be more desirable. Picture: Riad Kanane/Pixabay

Homes in areas that boast attractive natural features tend to be more desirable. Picture: Riad Kanane/Pixabay

Published Aug 4, 2023


A home’s features and conditions can be modified or improved over time, but the location is fixed, and you cannot change its influence on the desirability and value of that property.

This is why buyers must prioritize their choice of location over their choice of home.

And this is also why it is often said that it’s better to own the worst house in the best area than the best house in a bad area, says Gerhard Kotzé, chief executive of the RealNet property group.

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“Of course, it isn’t easy to look into the future and pick an area that you think will still be appealing to potential buyers when you decide to resell your property in 10, 20, or even 30 years’ time. And what makes things even more difficult is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ prescription for the perfect location.”

Preferences vary in different towns, cities, and countries, and according to the lifestyle aspirations of buyers. So, in some places, there may be a high demand for walkable areas offering convenient and efficient urban living, while, in others, the suburbs or even rural settings may be more desirable.

Still, there will always be some locations that are more desirable than others, even if they appear to be similar.

“In South Africa, where good security is a priority for most buyers, homes in gated estates will generally sell for more than similar homes elsewhere, and show a faster increase in value. But several factors can come into play to persuade buyers that one estate is a better choice than another,” Kotzé says.

Some factors to consider when scouting for good locations include the following:

  • The quality of the area and the lifestyle it offers

Decide if you want to live in a more urban environment with a vibrant cultural and entertainment scene, or maybe a more tranquil suburban setting with a strong sense of community. Then check out things like safety and security as well as the proximity to schools, shopping centres, parks, medical facilities, public transport, sports and entertainment venues, as well as the quality of those amenities.

  • Property demand

Take a good look around to see if homes in the area are generally well-maintained and if the streets, parks, and other public spaces look clean and tidy. Find out from your estate agents whether there is good demand for homes in the area and if this usually exceeds the supply of homes for sale.

“This should be reflected in relatively short listing times and a steady rise in prices. On the other hand, if there are more homes for sale than buyers, exercise caution and try to find out why so many sellers are keen to leave.”

  • Proximity to employment

Homes located near major employment centres, such as business districts, office parks, or even industrial areas are often more desirable than those further away. Everybody likes a shorter commute that saves them time and money – as long as this does not mean living with noise, extra traffic or pollution, he says.

  • Natural features and views

Properties in areas that boast attractive natural features, such as a waterfront, mountain views, or lots of safe parks and green spaces, tend to be more desirable.

“These natural elements can enhance the quality of life and provide aesthetic value, positively impacting resale values.”

  • Future development

Plans for new developments in an area can be negative or positive in terms of enhancing a home’s appeal and resale value. A new school or convenience shopping centre would usually be regarded as a good thing, but few people would appreciate a new highway slicing through their area, or want to live next to a giant new mall or even a new hospital, so you need to find out what the development plans are before you buy.

  • Title deed or zoning restrictions

The location of a property can be subject to various zoning regulations and municipal ordinances, and in an estate, there may also be architectural guidelines and building restrictions that you have to follow.

“These provisions can all affect how you are able to use, renovate or alter the property and its eventual resale value,“ Kotzé says.

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