Packing up and relocating to another city, or for that matter another country, is a major undertaking, so it is imperative to do the necessary research and weigh up all the options before making the final decision, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. He notes that whether it is as big a decision as immigrating or moving across the country, there are essential aspects that should be assessed in every prospective neighbourhood to ensure that you will feel at home.
Most people spend a fair bit of their day commuting to and from work every day, so it is important to consider the distance from the neighbourhood to the office. Other considerations would include whether there is access to public transportation, service hours, route and stops. If you travel often, is the neighbourhood within proximity to an airport? Or is there transport systems linked to the airport for easy commuting?
Location is of utmost importance in real estate and proximity to reliable public transport can have a positive impact on the appreciation of the home’s value over time. International studies have shown that home values tend to rise faster in areas that are close to bus, train and underground stops. The opening of the Gautrain stations is a prime example of this, with home values around the stations experiencing higher growth than areas that are further away.
Consider the retailers and businesses that you frequent often, such as the bank, pharmacy, and grocery store. Are these shops conveniently located within proximity to your prospective new home? While a gourmet deli and coffee shop is a great place to meet up with friends, being near to a grocery store that stocks your daily staples is far more practical. Ensure that the businesses are reputable and that their prices are reasonable. Much of the legwork can be minimised by reading online reviews.
For a family with children or a couple planning to have children in the future, the quality of the schools in the area is an essential element to consider. In fact, even if you don’t plan on having children it is an important consideration because it will have an impact on the home’s potential appreciation in value. Homes that are close to good schools are highly sought-after and will sell for higher prices. So why do schools have the impact they do on housing? It is largely due to the schooling zoning system. If there is space available, parents may register their child for any public school. However, most public schools will have a specific feeder zone. The child’s home address will determine which schools the child is zoned for. The children within the feeder area will be given preference over others outside of that zone.
While proximity to amenities is important because it will influence the home’s investment potential, there is another element that relates to the buyer’s personal needs and wants. Someone who rates culture very highly will want to be near to art galleries and theatres, whereas someone who enjoys the nightlife will want to be close to restaurants, pubs, or dance clubs. A sports enthusiast would want to know the distance to the stadiums and athletic arenas in the area. There is also the matter of free entertainment, such as parks, museums and libraries.
This doesn’t relate to the country’s economy, but rather more specific factors that are influencing a certain area, such as a high crime rate. There will be telltale signs if an area is experiencing a financial decline, such as houses in need of attention, unkept parks, littered streets, and businesses closing down. Many people will want to move out of the area, so look for a prevalence of ‘for sale’ signs.
Goslett concludes by saying that using these guidelines will assist you to find the right neighbourhood that will meet all your needs, regardless of whether it is in South Africa or abroad.