Monday, February 2, 2015

15 Things to look for when buying a home to maximize its resale value.

Like the old real estate adage goes, the time to start thinking about selling is when you’re buying. There is wisdom in that, as it’s important to purchase a home with the characteristics and amenities that will be attractive to the next buyer – and therefore get maximum value – just like they were important to you. And while personal circumstances and needs shift with the times and the individual buyer's preference, there are certain aspects of homes that are universal and never go out of style. Understanding these solid real estate concepts will not only help you choose the best home for your family but help you turn the keys on a great investment, holding and growing in value through the years so it will make you a hefty profit when it’s time to sell…and do it again.

So here are 15 things to look for when buying a home that will ensure you get a good resale value:

1. Location.
You’ve heard it a million times, but buying a home in the best possible neighborhood ensures your home will always hold its value. Homes in nice, safe, quiet, family-oriented neighborhoods always do well. It’s a huge bonus if you can buy in a high net-worth area of town and in proximity to a good elementary school or a park. But more than just looking for the positives when buying, your resale options could sink like a stone if you’re near a prison, busy street with speeding cars, noisy business, or railroad tracks.

2. Square footage.
My formula for real estate resale success is always: “Location, location, location…and square footage.” The smallest house in a great neighborhood still won’t climb in value like you’d want but people always look large, roomy homes (at least consistent with the sizes in the neighborhood). You can easily remodel and upgrade the condition of a house, but adding square footage is so costly and time consuming, it’s usually not worth it.

3. High ceilings.
No matter they style or square footage of your home, high ceilings always makes it feel roomy, airy, and inviting. High ceilings is another one of those features that’s very expensive – or impossible – to add after-the-fact.

4. Natural light.
Future buyers will walk into your listing and get a quick first impression, and 90% of their decision to buy or not (and the price they offer) will be based on that. One way to ensure they get a great first impression is to have a home that is awash in natural light. It’s flattering to any property and conveys a sense of lightness, positivity, and open space far more than switching on a light bulb can ever do.

5. Not at the bottom of a hill.
In most of Sacramento this isn’t a problem because it’s all pretty level, but in the foothills and other cities, this is one key aspect of choosing a home that’s often forgotten. Homes that sit at the bottom of hills or on the low side of a slope divided by a road will always be a little dizzying for potential home buyers. They might not even realize why they have a negative feeling about the house, but they seem smaller, darker, “pinched” and generally the resale values are lower than their counterparts higher up.

6. Outdoor living.
Other than the McMansion era during the real estate boom where square footage was king above all else, homes that offered nice outdoor and natural living experiences always sell well. It doesn’t necessarily mean your home has to have a huge yard, if can be a nice sitting area, an old-fashioned wrap around front porch, an outdoor kitchen, or any number of areas to entertain and spend time outdoors.

7. Plenty of comparables.
I see buyers make the mistake all the time of buying a home that may be nice, but stands out or is unique in their area. Whether it’s too small, too big, or a different type of construction than the neighbors, it will have little or no comparable properties to boost its value over the years. I always say you never want the biggest or the smallest home in the neighborhood, but one that has plenty of company when an appraiser is looking for comparables to do their valuation.

8. Good kitchens and bathrooms.
No matter what design trends come and go, nice, open, and functional kitchens are always a plus – and the focal point of the home when you go to sell. Bathrooms are next on the list.

9. At least…
It’s a good idea to buy a home with at least 3 bedrooms and at least 2 full baths. Any smaller than that and it won’t be attractive to families and young couples who are buying and looking to grow into it.

10. Hardwood floors.
Carpet wears out and gets dingy and tile in the whole house looks too cold and antiseptic, but hardwood floors are never out of fashion. The older they get the more they speak too the character of the house, and they’re easy to refresh and even recolor before selling.

11. Garage.
Paying a huge chunk of change for a home and then having to park on the street is never a good look, so make sure you choose a home that has at least a 1 car, and probably 2-car, garage.

12. Technology?
When it comes to tech gadgets and innovations in your home, this can be tricky. While they’re great to have and can attract buyers and boost values in the short term, the problem with tech is that it becomes out of date so quickly. So whatever you buy or incorporate, make sure it’s possible to change or upgrade it before resale, years down the line.

13. Roof.
A comp shingle or tile roof is usually the most desirable because it lasts a long time and doesn’t need constant maintenance. Meanwhile, don’t buy a home with a wood shingle roof unless you budget for a complete replacement before you sell.

14, One level, good flow.
Single story homes with open, flowing floor plans always do really well when it comes to resale value.

15. Skip the trends, gimmicks, and “funky” amenities.

That built in fish tank? It will be will probably be a turn off for the next potential buyers, not a reason to offer more money on your house. The sunroom addition you want to count as square footage? The buyer will disagree, and probably wish it was torn down. A waterfall with lights behind it in the grand foyer? That may be in fashion now, but could easily become outdated and turn into a negative for a potential buyer as the times change. Even hot tubs and swimming pools, which are very expensive to install and maintain, are not good bets for resale value.

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