Brokers Tell All: Location Isn’t The #1 Factor in The Home Search Process

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The old adage in real estate was all about location! However, in today's modern landscape location isn't the only top contender for a buyer. Now searches include a number of factors, from a vibrant neighborhood with easy access to grocery stores, drugstores, hospitals, and transportation to budgets and commuting distances, as well as children’s schools. In the end, priorities often shift when buyers understand the realities of the market. Below, find some insight from some local brokers and real estate agents who share what they’ve been seeing with their clients.

1. You won't find what you’re looking for quickly.

Oh, how beautiful the world would be if this was the case. Much like the search for the perfect life partner, the home search can quickly turn into a needle-in-the-haystack scenario.

Unfortunately, it often comes with a significant time investment. Martin Eiden, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker at Compass, recommends to pick your top three-to-five neighborhoods and spend a Sunday of open houses in each. “Interestingly, just after one afternoon most buyers narrow the field down to 1-2,” Eiden concludes.

2. You might not stick to one location no matter.

While the location is of course an important factor of the home search, there are many elements which contribute to the ultimate decision of where to rent or buy. One of them is your budget.

“Some clients will sacrifice the premier location if it means getting everything they want at a cheaper price, at the expense of having a longer commute,” Alex Lavrenov, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Warburg Realty told us. After pinning down on one to two neighborhoods, Eiden and his clients focus on the property type. If the latter becomes most important, Eiden opens up the search to other neighborhoods.

3. Homebuyers don't always know exactly where they want to live.

Martin Eiden states: “With the exception of parents wanting to be in a specific school district, buyers are more flexible on neighborhoods than ever,” he tells us. Buyers are willing to look downtown, uptown and in Brooklyn for their dream apartment. Gentrification in New York City has led to “cutie-pie shops, delightful restaurants, and well-manicured parks” to be available everywhere, says Eiden.

Rebecca Brooksher, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Warburg Realty, has an example: “We had an Upper West Side couple expecting their first child who needed a second bedroom. They started their search in Upper Harlem but five months later ended up settled in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn,” she said. Warburg Realty’s Domingo Perez Jr. knows, “as much as your clients tell you they know what they’re looking for they’ll never know until they see it.”

4. Your friend’s advice will not help you pin down the perfect location.

While your friends might be great at recommending restaurants and know where to find that ridiculously affordable mani-pedi, they might not know which neighborhood is just right for you. Martin Eiden specifies: “Many people might say, ‘I’ll only live below 14th Street or above 86th Street.’ Often buyers cling to these rules because a friend told them what to do.

Regrettably, their friend’s advice is really doing them a disservice and costing them money and quality of life, according to Eiden. A better idea could be to listen to your real estate agent. Brooksher and her husband have specialized in working with clients who are open to different neighborhoods. “If you find the right agent fluent in many neighborhoods, you can narrow down the search using other factors, and find a whole new community to join. We’ve had a lot of luck with this approach,” Brooksher said.

5. The decision of where to live is not always a rational one.

Of course there is rational decision-making involved when pinning down on the perfect location, including budget, commute, and transportation.

However, sometimes a vibe or a feeling will play a more important role than originally anticipated. Perez Jr. was showing apartments to his client in West Soho, an area that hadn’t even been on their map before. “I remember standing on the corner of 6th ave and Spring Street during sunset pointing out the views North all the way to The Empire State building and South all the way to The Freedom Tower….my client later told me that was one of the moments that it all clicked.” Ultimately it’s about the feel of a neighborhood more than anything else,” Eiden agrees.