Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Location, Location, Location?

Location, Location, Location?


Everyone knows the three tenets of real estate – location, location, location.  But does everyone know what that really means?  Let’s face it, not everyone can live in the same place.  At the same time, I would say that most people are fairly happy where they live.  So, why are so many different locations perfect for so many people? 

 Let’s take a look at those elements that really make up the location discussion.  First and foremost, location means determining what elements of life make you the happiest.  Sounds simple right?  Just park me next to the ATM with an unlimited cash withdrawal account and I’m just fine.  Unfortunately, reality is quite different.  Different people prioritize their lives very differently from each other.  I boil the main location components down into the following elements:  transportation, shopping, schools and recreation.  Now, everyone can think of other categories, or sub-categories that they feel should be their own categories.  However, at the end of the day, we are all either working, playing, shopping and eating or sleeping.  If we find housing that addresses these issues, we are usually doing ok.

Transportation can take many forms.  Most people will gravitate towards thinking of their drive time to work.  But how about those that like the convenience of public transportation.  Or those that walk to work.  What about those that travel constantly and prefer to be close to the airport or train station.  I haven’t even touched upon those that like public trail systems and bike lanes to bike to work.  Finally, what about those that don’t work and are just concerned about local traffic patterns.

Who can forget about shops and restaurants.  We all like the finer things, don’t we?  To stroll around a nice indoor or outdoor mall, grab a latte with friends at the corner Starbucks, stop by a nice pub for a pint after work, hit the midnight showing of the latest chick flick release (okay, gratuitous family plug to my wife and two daughters).  Others prioritize proximity to a local grocer or medical facilities.  But what about those that shop online or hate areas filled with shopping congestion.  They may not care about shopping convenience. 

Then there are the all important school systems.  There are a tremendous amount of people that refuse to live anywhere that does not have a top rated public school system.  Other people won’t live anywhere that their kids cannot walk to school.  Still others will choose a system by the size of its classrooms or size of total student body.  There are also those that gravitate towards schools with rich athletic traditions and there are families that could not care less what the local schools are like.  Their kids go to private schools.  Let’s also not forget the active adult segment of the market where schools are a complete non-factor unless the school location causes traffic delays to their daily routine – see Transportation.

Finally, we cannot forget about recreation.  For some, this means access to large, open green spaces and parks.  Or, even just a large lot with lots of trees and lawn area.  For others, it is access to water for boating or golf courses for personal torture.  In some cases recreation and shopping get blurred for those that want to be able to walk to shop and consider it a sport.

Now, once all these items have been sorted through, thought through, hashed about, looked at every which way and then looked at again, they are all then reviewed for a final time through the lens of the great equalizer – price.  Sometimes a price compromise will manifest itself in having to settle for a smaller home.  For others, price will force a choice among the lifestyle options.  Commute over schools.  Recreation over shopping convenience.  Many times it is just driving until you find an exit you can afford.

In any event, location, location, location, as with beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder.  It is a lifestyle pot roast filled with all the things that are uniquely special to who you are and what you do.  Like snowflakes, no two people’s decision processes are ever the same. 

Till next time.

Keep kicking the dirt. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Welcome to The Dusty Shoe!

Welcome to my blog, The Dusty Shoe.  For both of you that have taken the interest in this first blog, thank you.  To satisfy your interest, I will take a moment to explain.  A dusty shoe tour is a term used in the real estate industry when a developer or builder wants to give guests a sneak peek at what is under construction before it is finished.  A first look under the hood, so to speak.  That is similar to what this blog space is about.  Most people know something about homes and real estate.  However, with most things in life, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.  Not being in the real estate business, most people don't truly understand what it is about a specific real estate opportunity that either increases, or sometimes decreases its attractiveness.  I am not talking about the obvious.  Naturally, anyone can look at a foreclosure or short sale in disrepair and see opportunity for the right price, or see an immaculately maintained home and recognize the turnkey value to such a purchase.  I am looking to discuss the not so obvious items.  As in the Wizard of Oz, I am talking about the man behind the curtain.  The elements that are not so visible until usually well after closing, when it is too late to change your mind.  I call that the "Wait, what?" momemt. 

Real estate is a funny business.  Everyone gets sucked in, because everyone sees it all around them.  You see homes when you drive to work, when your kids go to school, when you go out to eat and then, most importantly, when you are home, surveying the realm of your own castle.  Your home can be a house, condo, apartment, trailer, 5th wheel, or, if you are fighting at home, the back seat of your car.  You can't help but feel you are an expert.  It is like TV poker.  Everyone gets to watch the final table and see all the cards.  How can you lose?  What you don't see are the hundreds and thousands of other contestants that never made it to the end.  The same thing can be said for a real estate purchase. 

Now, I understand you may be saying, "Why are you trying to make this so complicated.  I am just buying a home.  It's not rocket science."  You are right.  It is not.  And, outside of the gratuitous plug that I want you to read my blog, I am not trying to make it so.  However, there are certain factors that can help with the purchase.  Some of those factors are considered conscientously, others are not.  Some, both good and bad, are not recognized until after you move in.  Some others are never noticed specifically.  People just say "It feels good or It feels bad" without ever really being able to put their finger on the reason.

I have been in the real estate business for over 25 years.  Anyone in the business that long has their share of success stories and I have mine.  However, one of the best comments I ever heard in real estate came at a corporate retreat about 20 years ago.  The president of the company, looking around at the collective audience of the company (it was a big company and a big room) said that we had collectively made almost every mistake that could be made in development over the years, and that it was a good thing.  Learning from your mistakes and being willing to risk failure is what allows you to achieve your greatest successes.  Kind of like my writing this blog.

Anyway, I will be using this blog to share my lessons learned, both good and bad, to help you understand those items you may have not cared about or not known about to help make you better real estate decision makers.  This is not a site to help understand how to invest money in real estate.  It is just a site to help you better understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.  Remember, real estate is a lot like art.  You should buy it because you like it and it makes you feel good.  Also, like art, when you decide you don't want it anymore it can either be profitable to unload, or a real bitch.  And, like with art, there are usually commissions and fees to be paid.

Until next time,

Keep kicking the dirt!