If you have ever bought a house, you have probably heard the real estate agents’ mantra: “Location, location, location.” According to an article in the balance called “What Location, Location, Location Means in Real Estate,” the phrase means that identical houses can increase or decrease in value due to location. The word “location” is repeated three times for emphasis.

A number of factors can make one house more desirable than an identical house in another location. You can probably name four or five of these factors. For example, families with children will often want a house in a top-rated school district. The fact that a house is in a top-rated school district increases the value of the house.

Homes on lakes or rivers often command top dollar. By its very nature, riverfront property is limited. Building almost any house on riverfront property automatically increases the value of the house.

Did you know that a house in the middle of the block is considered more desirable than the same house on a corner lot? Why? The homeowner in the middle of the block feels less vulnerable. He doesn’t need to worry about auto accidents at the intersection, drivers cutting across his lawn, etc. Likewise, a house in the middle of a subdivision has more value than the same house backing up to a busy road at the edge of the subdivision.

The economic health of a city can influence the value of properties within the city. If a city has a vibrant economy with good paying jobs, people want to live there. By contrast, if a city’s economy is depressed and people cannot find work, the value of homes declines.

The physical location of a house can decrease its value. For example, houses under flight patterns at O’Hare and Midway suffer from noise pollution. Although more than 10,000 residences and 8,000 homes have been provided soundproofing tactics under the Residential Sound Insulation Program, other homes are not eligible because they are outside the boundary.

In like manner, houses built along railroads are less desirable because of noise. The noise level of a train passing through a residential neighborhood is extremely high. The blaring of the horn, the clacking of the wheels, the vibration of the ground is an annoyance during the daytime and interferes with night-time sleep.

Houses built along freeways suffer from both traffic noise and air pollution. Built as walls along a freeway, roadside barriers can help reduce traffic noise. Studies show that barrier walls and proper roadside vegetation can improve near-road air quality. Nevertheless, the value of nearby properties is negatively affected by the freeway.

If you are in the market for a house, remember the famous mantra: “Location, location, location.” You can remodel a kitchen. You can add an extra bathroom. You can install new carpeting. The one thing you can’t change is the location.

— By Karen Centowski