Whos Got the Best Spot on the Block?

By: Mike Trinchitella

They tell you it's all about location when it comes to real estate, so when you're looking for a home how can you tell which houses are positioned for success? Do you go for a corner lot or the house in the middle of the block? What about ditching the block altogether and going for the cul-de-sac? Well, like so many things in real estate, they all have their advantages and finding the right fit depends on what you're looking for.

Corner Lot

Pros: Usually bigger than side by side lots, great visibility for home-based business, fewer neighbors
Cons: Less privacy, more traffic

It seems that the debate continues to rage over whether or not corner lots should command the higher price tag that usually goes along with them. Considering that sales of these homes never seem to flag, the answer would be a resounding yes. Nonetheless, if you crave privacy and seclusion, most corner lot homes will not be for you.

Side By Side

Pros: When compared to corner lots, these homes get less traffic and more privacy from the street. Living close to your neighbors also gives you increased security
Cons: Usually have smaller yards and less privacy from the neighbors than a corner lot

Most homes are on lots of the side by side variety, with neighbors on all sides except the side that faces the street. Side by side lots afford you the luxury of talking over the fence and getting to know the people who live around you. As a consequence, this type of lot will also offer you more security. And while there is usually less privacy from the people you know (your neighbors), with only one side of the house facing the street, you get more privacy from the people you don't know.

Cul-De-Sac

Pros: Safe communal area. gathering spot for neighbors, popular yard sales. Usually have bigger yards than homes on a grid.
Cons: Usually in suburban areas that require a lot of driving. Not well connected to other streets in the neighborhood making walking and bike riding impractical. Lots of driving, driving, driving. Did I mention driving?

While you can't blame all the ills of suburbia on the cul-de-sac, you can find quite a few of them here. Usually commanding more space than homes built on a grid, the cul-de-sac makes environmentalists nervous. The "one way in, one way out" design and poor interconnectivity also means you'll have to take a more roundabout route to your home and everywhere else. If the developers haven't included bike and walking paths in the overall design, it can also mean that you literally have to drive everywhere you go. That said, if you have children, living on a cul-de-sac can be a dream. With a built in communal play space and gathering spot right outside your front door, less traffic and lots of eyes on the street, children have more opportunity to meet and play with each other without having to leave the neighborhood.

Exurban

Pros: Tend to be bigger lots and bigger houses than in urban and suburban areas. Quiet, less traffic, access to nature.
Cons: Requires more driving on a daily basis than living in a city whether you live in the middle of the block, on the corner or a cul-de-sac. Appreciation can also be less predictable.

No matter that your property is bordered by others when there's so much space that you barely know they're there. One thing that you will have to account for with this type of property however, is how much driving you will have to do every single day. All that luxurious space and solitude comes at the price of convenience and all that access to nature will need to be supported by a marked increase in fuel consumption. For many, however, the choice is easy. Generally, the farther you travel outside of an urban center, the more house you can get for your money. Lot sizes and square footage both tend to be bigger and the streets tend to be quiet.

Of course, there are many exceptions to these rules. A corner lot in a quiet development is quite different from one in a downtown area and a side by side lot that backs onto a greenbelt is different from one that is bordered by other yards. Taking some time to get really clear on what your priorities are and what you're looking for in your new home will make all the difference. You'll have to evaluate each property you look at individually. A good real estate agent will help you sort through the available homes on the market and make your search a great deal less complicated.

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