What the Word "Orientation" Refers to in Real Estate Lingo

Home with trees and a white picket fence around it
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 Scott Webb at Unsplash

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 a 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 backyard 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 backyard, say, with few trees. It might also depend on precise elements that border your backyard. Let's say the backyard fronts a lake, for example. Many people prefer a south-facing yard on a lake over a north-facing backyard.

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. Other buyers will demand south-facing homes and prefer a backyard that faces north, and this particular preference seems to be more common.

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 Lindy 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, License #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.