Buying a home may be the biggest investment you ever make as well as the largest debt you ever take on, according to Realtor.com. But finding a home to buy isn't a simple chore. Whether you are in the market for a new home, an older home that has been upgraded, or a do-it-yourself home to restore, if you want to make a good investment, there are certain things to look for when you go house hunting.
Consider a home's resale value.
Even if you plan to remain living in a home for a while, the day eventually will come when you or a beneficiary will be placing a "For Sale" sign out on the lawn. It may sound silly, but the time to begin thinking about selling your home is the day you buy it. For starters, buying a home in a desirable location will attract more buyers when the time comes.
It doesn't matter whether you are shopping for pre-owned or new, additional standards to look for include a neighborhood with residential zoning, a level lot, a home with 3 or 4 bedrooms and at least 1-½ bathrooms, and proximity to schools and businesses but away from heavy traffic and noise. A pre-owned home that has been regularly maintained and had its mechanical systems upgraded or replaced as needed can be a practical buy. Generally, a home that is in good overall condition keeps its value.
Cosmetic updates don't usually add value to a home, but they can keep it from looking neglected and outdated. Likewise, not all major remodels are worth the investment when it comes to return. However, a smaller project, like a fresh coat of paint, can make a home look more appealing.
Even with a newly-constructed home, the outcome isn't likely to be perfect. If you notice a problem that could affect the home's value, discuss it with your real estate agent who will help you work it out with the builder.
Look for features that save energy dollars.
Energy doesn't come cheap. But Energy Star-rated products, such as windows, appliances, furnaces, water heaters, ceiling fans, heat pumps, and central air-conditioning can save you money. With Energy Star products you use less energy, which means lower utility bills. In addition, you get better performance and contribute to protecting the environment.
Factor in the storage space a home offers.
Families, especially younger homebuyers with growing children, accumulate a lot of "stuff" and need somewhere to keep it accessible and organized. Roomy closets in the bedrooms (including a walk-in closet in the master bedroom) make what's in them easier to find. Homes with linen closets in the bathrooms and a two-car garage with storage space also tend to generate more interest than homes with little closet space and a single-car or no garage.
Walk-in kitchen pantries are back in, along with mud rooms that offer additional storage space for shoes and outdoor clothing. A separate laundry room is a plus as well. Life is busy, which means home buyers want spaces that provide efficiency and time savings as they work to stay on top of daily tasks. Clutter is out; organization is in.
Get a warranty for a newly constructed home.
Just because a home is new doesn't mean the builder might not have to come back and fix problems. Warranties differ in what they offer, including the length of time a guarantee stands. What a warranty does and does not cover varies, so you need to read the details. It's also important to know whether the builder or a third-party home warranty company backs the warranty. An advantage of a third-party warranty is if the builder goes out of business, you still are covered by the warranty.