Buy Alexandria Real Estate: Buy the Neighborhood First, Then Buy Your House

Alexandria Virginia Real Estate Blog

Buy the Neighborhood First, Then Buy Your House

You can change your house, you can fix it up, you can remodel, you can put on an addition, you can landscape, yadda yadda yadda, but you can't (at least single-handedly) change your neighborhood.  When it comes to real estate, you've likely heard the adage a million times "Location. Location. Location." 

It's important to know your price range.  You should think about the features you want in a home.  Consider your preference for granite counters or silestone.  Carefully ponder how many bedrooms and baths you need and whether you want a front-loading washing machine.

However, when searching for and purchasing a home in Northern Virginia, there's probably no bigger consideration than which neighborhood you'll ultimately decide to call home.  My buyers are always interested in touring around the neighborhood, seeing where stores and restaurants are located, testing out the commute to work, and making sure that the neighborhood appears to be well-maintained.  Northern Virginia homebuyers essentially "buy the neighborhood first, and then buy their home."  A recent survey of 2,071 adult Americans conducted for NAR in February showed this to be true.

Here's a few graphs and some key data that was determined from this national survey.

Space versus Commute

Majorities of Americans rank space and privacy as top priorities, but a lengthy commute can sway them to consider smaller houses on smaller lots.  A single-family home on a large lot still remains the American Dream.

Size of House versus Neighborhood

As you can see, the neighborhood is a much higher consideration for most buyers than the size of the house.  More than 7 times as many people think the neighborhood is more important that the size of the home.


  • Two thirds of Americans see being within easy walking distance of places in their community as an important factor in deciding where to live.

  • Sidewalks and places to take walks ranked third among factors considered very important in deciding where to live.

  • Top places that people want within walking distance include grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals and restaurants.

Thus, when looking for your home in Northern Virginia, consider commute times, walkability, and the overall neighborhood.


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Comment balloon 3 commentsBrian Block • May 16 2011 04:02PM


Brian, I have to think this is good advice for buying a home just about anywhere. We saw people during the boom losing focus and buying amenities over location; those are the folks who have really taken a bath if they've had to sell since the market downturn.

Posted by Beth Larsen, Sedona Arizona (RE/MAX Sedona) over 6 years ago

Brian - Excellent advice--the value and importance of location is a constant in the world of real estste.

Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes & Beach Cities Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) over 6 years ago

Fantastic post and great advice. It's easier to apply paint then a new street sign.

Posted by John Saari, "The Mortgage Buddy" over 6 years ago