Orientation in Real Estate

orientation
The orientation of a home can make a big difference to some buyers. © Big Stock Photo

Definition: Orientation is the positioning of a home on a lot. The orientation of a home can affect the market value of that home. In short, a home orientation is the direction a home faces. Some Asian cultures may tend to lean toward particular demands for orientation and certain types of these buyers will not buy a home with any other type of orientation.

Why Do Home Buyers Care About the Orientation of a Home?

Orientation is often a personal preference.

There is no one-size-fits-all. For example, homes that are situated on the south side of a street face north. This means the back yard has more sun in the summer, a delight for gardeners. Conversely, homes situated on the north side of a street face south, offering some shade in the backyard during summer afternoons, perfect for entertaining in hot climates.

In snowy and colder climates, some builders prefer to orient homes toward the sun to be green in the winter. It means the sun's rays can warm the home during the winter. Trees play an important role as well; for example, deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter, allowing sunlight to warm the house. In the summer, the leafy trees shade the home.  Some new home builders limit the number of window installations on the east and west to conserve energy.

Have you ever walked into somebody's home and noticed the temperature shift dramatically as you moved from room to room?

Sometimes fluctuating temperatures are due to bad placement of air conditioning or heating vents or maybe the HVAC system is undersized and not large enough to handle the heating and cooling demands of the environment, but temperatures also change due to the orientation of the home.

If your kitchen faces east, breakfast will be served in a warm and sunny environment that may turn colder as the day moves on and the sun moves overhead.

Rooms that are sheltered such as laundry rooms located between living areas and the garage might retain heat longer.

The Best Orientation for a Home

Whether you will prefer to choose a home that faces north, for example, will depend on whether you may prefer to enjoy more sunlight in a back yard, say, with few trees. It might also depend on precise elements that border your back yard. Let's say the back yard fronts a lake, for example. Many people prefer a south-facing yard on a lake over a north-facing back yard.

When I've sold homes in Sacramento on a lake, I have heard this preference over and over from buyers. The homes with back yards facing north generally don't sell for a premium like the homes with back yards facing the south.

On the other hand, real estate agents will tell you that some Asian cultures prefer homes that face east and won't consider a home that faces any other direction, and for them, feng shui often plays a prominent role. I've also worked with buyers who have demanded south-facing homes and prefer a back yard that faces north, and this particular preference seems to be more common.

My own home faces north, and it's been difficult for us to grow a wide variety of colorful flowers in the front yard due to the shade.

This particular aspect has fed my fascination with fuchsias. It's also given me an appreciation for making sure the door to our master bath is completely closed at night because the morning sun can streak through and hit us in the eyes while we are sleeping. To think I almost installed a glass door to the bath before the thought crossed my mind about the morning sun.

There is no exact right or wrong way for your home's orientation. Its orientation depends on your own preferences. But it is a good factor to consider whether you're a first-time home buyer or a veteran.

 

Examples: If Linday Lohen wanted to sleep late in the morning, she would buy a home with a northern orientation and sleep in a bedroom on the northwest side.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.