It’s a question I’m asked at least twice a week. “Is it always; location, location, location?” For decades homeowners with high ambition have come to realise that one digit in a postcode can make a world of difference and, sadly, it’s true. We’ve become a nation of postcode snobs. Whether you’re Made in Chelsea, a Real Housewife of Cheshire or were brought up to think The Only Way is Essex, we’re programmed to believe that location is king.
On my podcast, Home:Work I explored postcode power in an item we called “A Tale of Two Towns”. We took two houses exactly the same in age, style and standard: both three bedroomed terraces, both on the market and around three miles apart. One had a price tag of over half a million quid, the other was struggling to sell at £150,000. The difference? The first was in a genteel, quaint market town nicknamed “Chelsea by the Sea”, the other on the fringes of a nearby, more industrial town with a struggling economy.
You find yourself asking, would I really be happy spending an extra £400,000 to buy the first one, or would I enjoy making something of the second one, saving myself the money to enjoy a better life? If your choice is the latter, I’d have to say I agree with you.
I’ve developed property of all kinds for over 25 years. My finest example of location versus size was my sale of a 1930’s deco penthouse on a sought-after city centre road – I’d owned it for less than a year, had spent £20,000 on it and I sold it on at a £50,000 profit…the first viewers offered me the full asking price within ten minutes of viewing.
I then bought a three bedroomed detached house in a busy, but far less desirable, outer suburb of the same city – for £80,000 less than I’d sold the apartment. I’d just come out of a long term relationship, I wanted a sanctuary, a place to call my own and a new start away from the busy-ness of the city centre and the memories of a bad ending.
The 80 grand I saved meant I could develop the detached house into a real head-turner, the street was “ordinary” at best, but the neighbours could see my efforts to turn the home from an ugly duckling to a beautiful swan being reflected in their own home values. “I wish I’d thought of doing that to mine” I recall one neighbour saying as he watched the scaffolding come down to reveal the picture windows and fresh render.
That home was my sanctuary. To many, it was an ordinary home in a pretty ordinary street. To me, it was where I restarted my career, reset my mind and re-engaged with all the things I had given away to be with someone else.
The fact that I needed a taxi to get me to the city centre to meet friends or catch a train didn’t matter. The point is, I’d found my place – a place for ME, that had meaning to me at that time and gave me what I needed.
What I’m saying is, the location doesn’t have to be “the best”. However, buying a home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make so my advice is just to make sure you’re your home is in a location that works for you.