The Unchangeables: 4 factors that drive real estate property values

Everybody has heard the age old real estate cliché: “Location. Location. Location…” If you haven’t, please leave our blog. Seriously, go away, we can’t help you. 🙂  Now, for those of you still here, the aforementioned mantra is only part of the equation of real estate property values. In this age of excess in which we live, I have expanded beyond locality, and deduced that there are 4 more property elements that most influence peoples’ perception of a property. I present to you:

The Unchangeables

4 Unchangeables the drive proprty values
Over the 13 years I have spent viewing commercial property for sale in Boston (and elsewhere), I have come to know that there are tangible and intangible elements of residential properties that can make their appeal, and thus their ability to sell (or rent), and ultimately drive the property value. People have visceral reactions to condos when they walk in the door, and the vast majority of the time they are irreversible. The 4 factors that drive real estate property values are:

  1. Natural light
  2. View
  3. Ceiling height
  4. Layout

Natural Light

Natural light is highly coveted. Again, often a subconscious reaction, but people tend to not be as attracted to properties that do not get good sunlight. The right exposure(s) can impact prices, and this is none more apparent than in Back Bay, where “sunny side” Marlborough St. and Commonwealth Ave. (the odd numbered addresses) repeatedly outperform their even numbered counterparts on the non sunny side. In fact, since 2008 there have been three times as many properties sold over 2M on the sunny side of Marlborough than on the even side of the street.  Property values on the sunny side are clearly higher……


It is no coincidence that the world’s highest priced real estate is typically waterfront property. Water is the ultimate view in the real estate world, with perhaps proximity to Gisele and Tom running a close 2nd in Boston…. In all seriousness though, water, park, mountain and skyline views are all hugely desired. Some local examples are the price difference in high rise buildings between identical units on the low versus high floor, or the price per square foot on Beacon Street for waterside versus non-waterside units. Which, in case you want some factual data to back up my assertion, how about 27 of the top 30 sales on a price per square foot value basis since 2008 on Beacon St. were on the waterside. That is 90% of the highest priced sales……

Ceiling Height

Ceiling height is another one of those attributes that has enormous impact on people’s gut reaction to a home. The city’s brownstones are full of grandeur, traditionally found on the parlor level, as these were the original entertaining levels when the structures were single families. Units with 11-14’ ceilings always fetch a premium, and people naturally gravitate to, and are awestruck by high ceilings. Especially as a short guy, I really get mesmerized…..


Layout can make or break any unit especially for real estate investment properties in Ohio. Sure, a layout could be changed, but not without some serious expense, and most likely very complicated structural work. Although a wannabe, I am no architect, but I did design and live in a 750 square foot 2 bed/2 bath for 8 years. It laid out like 900-1,000 square foot and no one could believe that it was only 750 square foot. Not that I have that many friends, or people that would hang out and see the place, but my parents could not get over its efficiency…. 🙂  In all candor, it was a great representation of how layout can make a property feel much bigger, and have much more utility than one would think. This can be seen with floor through units versus split levels, where one or the other can appear to be much bigger than its counterpart. Open kitchen/living/dining rooms are a common trend these days, and often really open up a unit versus an older separate galley style kitchen. Layout is critical to maximize property value…… Kendrea Properties will make sure such standards are met.

All 4 of the Unchangeables go to the heart of a property’s marketability and drive property values. All prospective buyers and sellers need to be cognizant of what they are. The bottom line is that one can always renovate a kitchen or redo a bath, with the top of the line materials, change carpets to hardwood, or upgrade electrical service, windows, etc. That being said, if your property lacks some, or all, of the Unchangeables, than maximizing property value could be quite a challenge.

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