Location, location, location. As the real estate agents say, it’s the No. 1 attribute in real estate. But it’s not just true when it comes to assessing a home’s value—it’s also a key factor in determining your future happiness, according to Katherine Loflin, a consultant in the new field of “placemaking.”
Q: What advice do you have for people who want to find the right place?
First, create a wish list for the place you want. What kind of place are you seeking, given where you are in your life—kid-friendly, retiree destination, walkable, cultural offerings, quintessential experiences that you crave? Just as we know the kind of person we are seeking as a partner, we should know the kind of place where we would thrive.
Next, spend some time there—date your place. And just like you should probably see your potential life partner with the flu before you marry, you have to learn about the challenges of the place. What are the issues the place is facing? Do you love it enough to want to help, or at least accept it, warts and all?
Q: What are the most common mistakes when choosing where to live?
Don’t move there based solely on vacation experience(s) there. Have you ever heard someone say, “It’s a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there”? That’s a real thing. Second, don’t make the mistake of thinking this is about “good” and “bad” places. Just like when you’re dating, it’s about your compatibility. While all people like places that are welcoming, different places do this different ways. In some places, welcoming means people hug you when they meet you. Some people love that, others not so much.
Q: How has this understanding of place affected the buying and selling of real estate?
One real estate journalist told me, “Today, houses are everywhere. We have to now also sell places. That’s what people are asking about more than the number of bedrooms.” Even when local economies failed at the end of the last decade, people who loved where they lived talked about taking solace in their place. As people felt disillusioned over the loss of a job that they had dedicated much of their life to, their values shifted. “I will no longer live to work, but work to live” was a common refrain I heard during that time.
Q: What are the most surprising stories you’ve heard about someone’s search for the right place?
The stories that always drop jaws are ones where I talk about people just “showing up” in a city or town they want to live in and figuring out the job and place to live once they get there. It is definitely a different strategy than what guided our parents, when absolutely everything 100% was dictated by the job.
Q: How can people who love their place change it?
There are always stories of a place going from unknown or declining to a thriving destination—like the upstart chef who couldn’t afford to open his own restaurant except in a small town. Then he took advantage of its rural location to help local farmers by creating a farm-to-table component of the restaurant, which further helped it succeed. And in a few short years, the place is transformed.
From: Realtor.com by Judy Dutton
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