7 Promising Signs the Home You’re Buying Will Have Good Resale Value

home buying good resale value

By Jamie Wiebe

While it might seem premature to think about selling a home before you even buy it, it’s important to remember that a house is an investment. And in an ideal world, investments make money—not lose it.

That’s why resale value should be an important consideration when house hunting. No, it shouldn’t supersede your must-have requirements (if you demand 20 acres and lakefront access, prioritize that). But if you do your best to predict how the house you’re buying—and the neighborhood it’s in—will appeal to future buyers, then future-you will be a whole lot happier. And possibly richer.

Considering resale value “also saves the buyers a lot of money, as they will not need to spend big on renovations or updates,” says real estate agent Lukasz Kukwa.

But one caveat: Good resale value is never a promise.

“It is almost impossible to guarantee that a home will retain its full resale value, as the local market and economic factors have a large effect on the housing market,” Kukwa says.

In short: Resale value is anybody’s guess if the economy tanks. But there are some indicators to watch for that could be the difference between barely squeaking by or coming out ahead. As you hit the house-hunting trail, look for these promising signs that suggest your investment will be a smart one.

1. The neighborhood’s hopping…

Pay attention to your surroundings when house hunting. Is the neighborhood walkable? Or is a trip to the grocery store so onerous it requires snacks for the road? Meanwhile, are there restaurants nearby for those nights you simply just can’t?

“If you buy in an area that is not well-developed and doesn’t have good infrastructure—like shopping close by—you will not have a high rate of return on the home,” says Realtor® Patricia Vosburgh.

“The more amenities, the higher chances the home will sell faster and for more money,” she explains.

Even if there are development plans in the works, don’t bank on that to prop up property values; construction can stall or be scrapped entirely. When calculating your home’s future worth, focus on what exists now.

2. … but the street itself is quiet

Buying a home is a study in contrasts: You want a gorgeous kitchen—and good delivery options, too. You need five bedrooms—and a decent hotel around the corner because no way is your mother-in-law staying with you. You want things to be hopping—but not in your backyard.

“We advise against buying on a busy street or purchasing a home surrounded by commercial properties nearby,” Vosburgh says.

Not that there aren’t buyers—possibly even you—who love living in the middle of the action. But before you buy the bungalow next to your favorite watering hole, consider that future buyers might not be so keen.

3. The home’s systems are in good shape

Many people consider return on investment to be the sum of a simple calculation: Will the home sell for more than you paid?

But it’s a little more complex than that. You have to factor in how much you’ll spend on the home while living there—even if the market becomes red-hot. And if the home’s vital components are falling apart, you’ll be spending a lot.

Your inspector can give you a rundown of your future home’s health, but keep a close eye on the roof, water heater, HVAC system, windows, and foundation. Pay attention to the plumbing and electrical, too. A problem with any one of these major systems can require a costly repair—and take a bite out of your payday.

“When these items are new or in good standing, that’s a great sign,” Kukwa says.

4. The schools are great

If you’re child-free, this one might seem entirely irrelevant. But a word to the wise: If you think you might someday sell your home, you’ll want to factor in the school district before you buy.

“Even if buyers personally don’t have children, for resale it is imperative that they buy in a great school zone,” Vosburgh says. (You can check school ratings at GreatSchools.org.)

Just make sure to do your research and determine where the home sits in relation to the school district boundaries.

“Often agents will advertise a property as being near such-and-such school area, but not necessarily specify the district, which can be very confusing,” explains Tina Maraj, a Realtor with Re/Max North Orange County in Fullerton, CA. “It can be a real eye-opener if a buyer closes and they’re on one side of a main street that is the dividing line between the top-rated and the lowest-rated high schools.”

5. The light is inspiring

“Any apartment in any neighborhood that has good light will sell—and will always sell,” says New York City broker Noemi Bitterman.

With good light, “there is always a good feeling—a feeling of embracing and belonging,” she continues. “When [a home] is dark, no matter how nice and new it is, it doesn’t feel inviting, it takes a much longer time to sell, and the price reflects the lack of light.”

Whether you’re shopping for a condo, apartment, or house, visit the property at different times of the day to see how the light affects the space.

6. The floor plan is family-friendly

Again? asks the child-free reader. Must all my housing decisions be dictated by families? No. But if you’re hoping to sell that home for a profit down the road, you should keep kid-friendliness in mind.

“Look for a home with a floor plan that will appeal to families,” says broker Kris Lindahl. That means at least three—if not four—bedrooms on the same level, an open concept kitchen, and at least one bathtub.

And always pay attention to the number of bathrooms. You want “enough to avoid fights in the morning,” Lindahl says.

On a related note: No matter how much you love that gloriously unique Frank Lloyd Wright spiral house, it’s often best to stick to a more traditional floor plan if you’re worried about selling later.

“Buying a home that is too quirky or has very untraditional features can result in a decreased ROI and smaller pool of potential buyers in the future,” Kukwa says.

7. The community is restrictive

Homeowners associations can be a pain in the butt—the irritating restrictions, the monotonous meetings, the monthly dues that you’re not always sure you can account for.

But an HOA can actually be helpful, at least when it comes to resale value. That’s because HOAs usually keep everyone in line, preventing your neighbors from letting weeds take over their lawn, painting their houses bright pink, or permanently parking an RV in the middle of your street—all things that could ding the value of your home.

Of course, purchasing an HOA-regulated home isn’t for everyone. But if you’re seriously concerned about the resale value of your new home, covenants and restrictions could keep you flush.

Wendy Helfenbaum contributed to this story.

[divider_top]

Don’t Budge: 7 Compromises You Should Never Make When Buying a Home

7 compromises on home buying

By: Wendy Helfenbaum

Every successful home search begins with a wish list. Armed with your inventory of must-haves, you’ll know how to focus your search and recognize a potential home that isn’t worth your time.

Still, there’s a strange thing that seems to happen when you’re deep in the trenches of house hunting: The more you look, the longer that wish list seems to grow. But sooner or later, you have to own up to the fact that you can’t have everything—it’s inevitable that you’ll make some compromises somewhere.

And, in these days of tight inventory and cutthroat competition from other buyers, you might feel forced to waver far afield from your hallowed wish list in order to land a home.

That’s OK—it’s important to be flexible. But there are a few times when you absolutely should draw the line. Here are seven areas where you’ll want to dig in your heels.

1. Buying a fixer-upper when you really want turnkey

You have never swung a hammer, have a phobia of power tools, and always pictured yourself in something new and shiny. But that doesn’t mean you won’t fall in love with a charming, century-old farmhouse that needs a ton of work. Now’s when you have to decide: Are you up to the financial and emotional challenges of taking on major renovations?

It’s an option you should seriously consider (with the help of an experienced general contractor) if you’re in a highly competitive market. But if you don’t think your bank account or your marriage could survive many months of upheaval, stick to your guns and insist on a turnkey home, says Mike Kessler, a broker with TSG Residential, in Davidson, NC.

“There have been times when I’ve said to clients, ‘after being with you for a week, I really think we need to look at new construction,'” Kessler says. Many of those clients, he adds, were later grateful for the course correction, saying, “We would never have been able to enjoy ourselves in [an older] house.”

2. A good school district

Even if you don’t have children, you should make sure the house you’re eyeing has desirable schools nearby, says Tina Maraj, a Realtor® with Re/Max North Orange County in Fullerton, CA.

Does it matter if you’re not looking to have a few kids? Well, things can always change. But even if they don’t, good schools typically translate to a higher resale value—potential buyers with families will want to be in the right district.

Just make sure to do your research and determine where the home sits in relation to the school district boundaries.

“Often agents will advertise a property as being near such-and-such school area, but not necessarily specify the district, which can be very confusing,” Maraj explains. “It can be a real eye-opener if a buyer closes and they’re on one side of a main street that is the dividing line between the top-rated and the lowest-rated high schools.”

Go to the school district’s website to get a map of the district boundaries.

3. The floor plan

Does the home fit your minimum criteria in terms of number of rooms and the flow of the main living areas? If not, cross it off your list, says Sarah Garza, a Realtor and military relocation specialist with Trident Homes Realty in Arnold, MD.

Garza can share some personal cautionary tales: A military spouse, she’s moved 12 times in the past 20 years, buying and selling nine homes in the process.

“I regret that I compromised on layout in the past,” she says. “When I really needed four bedrooms, I’ve gone to three and then wished I hadn’t.”

Sure, you can add on. But don’t use that option as a fallback, Maraj warns.

“You can change a layout to make it an open floor plan, but it’s a lot more difficult to change the bedroom and bathroom count,” she says. “In the long run, you could end up having a lot of problems and taking on a really big financial undertaking.”

4. The neighbors

During your search, don’t just focus on the house you’re interested in—check out the neighboring homes as well, Maraj says. Are the properties well-kept, or candidates for an episode of “Hoarders”?

The condition of the properties around you can affect your future resale value. And they can just plain drive you crazy. Make sure you look—and listen—any time you visit your prospective home.

“You can’t change the house in front of you or to the side of you,” Maraj cautions. “And if there’s a barking dog every time you’re viewing the property, that’s another thing that you absolutely cannot change.”

5. Your budget

You’ve probably already determined how much you’re willing to pay for a home—and you shouldn’t budge on that number. But you should also dig in your heels on the additional costs beyond the sticker price. That means setting a budget for your monthly payments, HOA dues, utility costs, and real estate taxes—and sticking to it. (Hint: You want to do this before you start looking at homes, and definitely before you start making offers.)

Yes, a lender will give you a pre-approval and tell you how much house you can afford. But this is just one piece of the puzzle, and the costs of homeownership can still land you in a mountain of debt if you’re not careful, Kessler points out.

“I try to do a lot of pre-planning with clients about what can they really afford, as opposed to what the bank tells you,” Kessler says. “You never want to be house poor.”

6. Commute time

If you’ve already determined that you’re willing to take on a 30-minute commute, don’t allow yourself to be swayed into anything longer, Garza says.

“Sometimes buyers fall in love with all the shiny bells and whistles of a house that’s an hour away from work, and want to compromise on what they’ve told me from the beginning,” she notes. “I tell them, ‘I know it doesn’t matter right now because you really love this house, but that’s two hours every day that you’ll be sitting in the car and not enjoying your house. Is that worth it to you?’”

She adds: Until you’ve actually driven the route to and from your potential home and your office, at the times you’ll be commuting, you should never consider compromising.

In some large cities, being just a few miles from the highway can tack on an additional hour of commuting. Could you handle that after a long day in the office? Think carefully before making the sacrifice.

7. Parking

Speaking of your car, if you own one (or two), you absolutely want a guaranteed spot to park, whether that means an enclosed garage, a driveway, or assigned parking.

“There are many communities that now restrict outside parking, guest spaces, and overnight parking, which could be a real homeowner nightmare if you have to fend for yourself,” Maraj says.

To avoid frustration after you’ve closed a deal, stick to your guns about the things that are most important to you while making your choice, and ignore the rest of the noise.

 

[divider_top]