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Neighbourhood identities and household location choice: estate agents' perspectives

Deborah Levy (Department of Property, University of Auckland Business School, Auckland, New Zealand)
Christina K.C. Lee (School of Business, Monash University, Sunway Campus, Bandar Sunway, Malaysia)

Journal of Place Management and Development

ISSN: 1753-8335

Article publication date: 11 October 2011




Previous research suggests that household location choice is determined by factors, such as affordability, family life cycle, distance from work and accessibility to the city centre. The purpose of this paper is to understand other psychological factors that may influence this decision, and specifically the effects of self identity and neighbourhood identity.


A qualitative methodology using an interpretive approach is adopted, seeking to understand the complex nature of reality. In‐depth interviews were carried out with eight experienced real estate agents working in two affluent suburbs close to Auckland's central business district in New Zealand.


Findings suggest that, subject to factors such as affordability and availability of appropriate accommodation, individual identity and suburb identity play an important role in determining neighbourhood choice. In addition to these findings, the paper proposes a conceptual model of the construction and manifestation of suburb identity incorporating both the results of the study and an understanding of the extant literature.

Research limitations/implications

The study is not an attempt to generalise its results and therefore further research into neighbourhood branding and how it links to suburb choice is recommended

Social implications

The study also adds a further behavioural dimension to the understanding of a collective interpretation of cities. Since part of the unique character of a city is reflected through its residents, planners need to understand what attracts different types of people to a city.


Whilst preliminary, the implications of this study emphasise the importance for valuers and real estate agents of understanding the type of people who are attracted to particular neighbourhoods, how these individuals perceive themselves and why they are attracted to specific locations.



Levy, D. and Lee, C.K.C. (2011), "Neighbourhood identities and household location choice: estate agents' perspectives", Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 243-263.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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