HOW TO SPOT A GOOD BUY (PART 2)
Look for a house with universally popular selling points. If you’re impressed, the next buyer down the line is bound to be, too. For example, a roomy, modern east-to-clean kitchen is the best selling point a home can have. A house with only one bathroom is less desirable than a house with two or more. Many buyers expect at least three bedrooms, with a master bedroom that offers a feeling of privacy. Lots of storage space and closets, especially walk-in closets, will be a real selling point. Family rooms or “great rooms” also are desirable. On closer examination, a house that looks like a bargain may lack some of these key features.
Don’t forget the old adage: location, location, location. Unless you’re looking for a fixer-upper, the house should be in a condition that is comparable to other homes in the neighborhood. Avoid buying the biggest or fanciest home on the block. Consider the amount of traffic or noise. Homes located in a quiet area away from a busy street will command a higher price. Make sure the schools in your district have a reputation for quality education and safety. Nearby supermarkets, gas stations, restaurants, and theaters also will make a location more desirable.
Good community facilities also add appeal; pools, athletic fields, community centers, libraries, and hospitals all add to a neighborhood’s value and desirability. Transportation needs also should be considered. Is local public transit available? How long are typical commutes to places of current and potential employment? Are there several alternate routes? How close is a major airport? All of these can affect a home’s pricing.
Consider the cost of living in a home. It’s important to consider not only purchase price but the monthly cost of living in a home. Estimate your utility and maintenance costs. For example, will the house need to be painted on a regular basis and will you need to spend money maintaining a swimming pool? Ask your agent about the property tax rate and whether increases are anticipated. Will you have to pay special assessments for a homeowner’s association? Consider the point in the life cycle of major household systems, such as the furnace, air conditioning, roof and kitchen appliances.
You can find a bargain! Your first step should be to seek out a knowledgeable real estate agent with experience in the market areas where you wish to purchase a home. Your agent can help you locate those properties that truly are “bargains” and help find the home that most closely matches your desires and needs.