Home Location or Quality – Which to Prioritize on a Budget?

Is it better to focus on the neighbourhood or state of the unit – or can you get both?
Joannah Connolly
July 10, 2017

Many first-time buyers or those on a tight budget come across a common dilemma: whether to prioritize location or quality of the home. So which is the best bet in the long-term?

Choose location, every time, Vancouver agent and investment expert Owen Bigland told a recent edition of the Real Estate Therapist show on Roundhouse Radio 98.3FM.

Bigland explains that the quality of a home can change – or be changed – but location never can, and it’s the most crucial aspect of property value.

“Location should always be first and foremost – it will appreciate better in the long term,” says Bigland. So if you’re on a budget, that means you’re likely to be looking at older buildings.”

That means being very careful about researching the way the strata manages the building to ensure that even if it’s older, it’s still a solid building that won’t end up with you paying large special levies for major repair works. “It is a minefield. There are strat buildings that look the same from the street, but some can be financially in a mess with lots of remediation work that is long overdue and others have stratas that are more proactive and taking care of a lot of that stuff – and oftentimes the units are selling at the same price. So you really have to do your due diligence on that.

“But otherwise, I would always go with location. To save a little money, the unit might require a little bit of renovation, you can always fix your unit up, you don’t have to do it right away, just maybe put on a few coats of paint and you can fix it up gradually long term.”

The size of the unit you are considering buying is another factor in the equation. Bigland says, “Lower your expectations that way, and then maybe you can get a good location and a quality building too. Perhaps look for a place with no parking spot – that can save you $40,000-50,000.”

Listen to the Real Estate Therapist show each Saturday morning, 9-10am, on Roundhouse Radio 98.3FM and streaming on roundhouseradio.com– and email your housing questions to realestatetherapist@roundhouseradio.com

Joannah Connolly
Joannah Connolly is editorial director of Glacier Real Estate, Glacier Media's real estate division. Joannah writes and curates real estate news for Glacier Media's local newspaper websites, including the Vancouver Courier, North Shore News, Burnaby Now, Tri-City News and others. She also oversees editorial content in Real Estate Weekly Homes, West Coast Condo, Western Investor and Glacier's special real estate publications. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 22 years of journalism and editing experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture, healthcare and business media. Joannah has appeared on major local TV outlets as a real estate commentator, has moderated and spoken on various industry panels, and spent two years hosting the Real Estate Therapist radio show on Roundhouse Radio.