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. In other words, the term is used to describe the direction a home faces. Orientation can affect the market value of a home, so before buying a home, you should make sure that its orientation meets your personal preferences.

Examples of Different Home Orientations

Orientation of a home can greatly affect the home's temperature and its access to sunlight throughout various parts of a given day.

For example, homes that are situated on the south side of a street face north. This means that the backyard has more sun in the summer, which is often 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. This is perfect for hosting and entertaining guests 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 that the sun's rays can warm the home during the winter.

If the kitchen of a home 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.

Trees can also play an important role on how orientation affects the home experience. For example, deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter, allowing more sunlight to come in and 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.

The "Best" Orientation for a Home

Orientation of a home needs to meet personal preferences, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. You should go with what you want out of your home experience.

For instance, whether you will prefer to choose a home that faces north 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 us say, for example, that the backyard fronts a lake. 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 will not 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 "right" or "wrong" orientation. A home's orientation depends on your own preferences. But, it is a good factor to consider whether you are a first-time home buyer or a veteran.

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