How to find the best locations – and avoid the bad

Just about everyone knows that the three most important features a property can have are location, location and location – but most people are much less certain about what makes a particular location good or even great.
“And 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-off 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.
“But 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.
“Indeed, the second key element in the make-up of a good location – where people will pay more to live - is its proximity to the best educational institutions, retail centres and recreation facilities that any particular town or city has to offer. Homes in a suburb that boasts several top schools, for example, or is close to a university, will always be in high demand and enjoy better-than-average property price growth.
Views and water frontage are also important, Gray says. “Wherever you are, someone will always pay more when you decide to sell your property if it has a great view from a hillside, or is on or near the water. This is easily seen in beach communities, for example, where the closer to the beach, the more valuable the property.”
Meanwhile in major cities, he says, a good location will also provide residents with quick and easy access to public transportation and, in cases where it is necessary to commute by car, to the freeway system. 

Gray also advises that if you are moving to a new town, it is always smart to rent a home and give yourself time to find out which parts of town are more or less desirable, and where you can safely buy a property that will not only be a home but a good investment as well.

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