Last Updated on April 1, 2024

What is Exposure (Front Exposure or Orientation)? | Real Estate Definition

By Alan F Macdonald

What Does Exposure (Front Exposure or Orientation) Mean?

In real estate, exposure or orientation refers to which direction the front of a home or building is facing. It may also be referred to as front exposure, orientation or property exposure. The default direction of exposure is the direction the front of the house is facing; however, clarification on exposures may talk about front exposure or rear exposure also. Sometimes it is important to specify which way the  backyard or rear of the lot is facing for those interested in rear exposure as well.

Real Estate Agent Explains Exposure

Exposure or orientation can be a very important part of real estate depending on what the owner wants from the property and depending on the particulars of the home and surrounding structures.

For example, if the front of a home is oriented to the south, it is likely that the yard faces north. In this case, there may be less sunlight on the yard because of the shadow the home casts on the lot. By the same token, if a home faces west, there will likely be little light behind the house in the evening. Of course, this isn’t always a rule and depends on the placement of the home, height of the home, roof pitch, surrounding trees and latitude. Also there may be other homes or buildings nearby that cast shadows on the lot at different times during the day. The exposure of a home isn’t a perfect way to classify a home, and it may not be an issue with an owners, but it can have an effect on enjoyment and home value.

Also, it should be noted that apartments may have the exposure listed pertaining to the exposure of the front door of the building, or to the exposure of the balcony or windows of the unit. (For more information about exposure and how it can affect you as a homeowner, see Top 5 Things Home Buyers Overlook.)

Here is an example of a north-facing back yard:

A north-facing back yard in King Edward Park, Edmonton
This north-facing back yard belongs to a south facing bungalow in King Edward Park, Edmonton

If you look at the above photograph, you can see how the garden is as far away from the house as possible. That isn’t a coincidence. Typically, the very back of the yard is the sunniest part when it comes to a north facing backyard. Also, because this house is a bungalow, it doesn’t cast such a long shadow on the yard to keep the grass from growing or the garden from doing well.

Exposure is often incorrectly stated on real estate listings, and should always be checked in person or by using an accurate map.

Why Does It Matter?

Because gardens, grass and trees need light, exposure can affect what can be grown on a lot. Also, because there may be little or no light in the evening, use of the yard in the latter part of the day may be hindered by certain orientations. Also, there may also be religious and cultural requirements or preferences like Vastu Shastra and Feng Shui to be considered when purchasing or selling a home. Overall, the front exposure of a property is just one more thing to consider when shopping for a home.