There are many things that should be considered when buying a home. Since most homebuyers expect to buy a bigger and better home someday in the future, resale value is an important factor in decision-making. You use the proceeds from selling one home to buy the next one.
While no one can guarantee that your home will grow in value, there are steps you can take that maximize your potential gain.
'Location, Location, Location'
"Location, location, location," is a common and almost hackneyed phrase in real estate literature. Your agent may even throw it at you when you ask for advice about buying a home. However, what does "location, location, location," actually mean? Why repeat it three times?
Mostly, "location" is repeated to emphasize that it is extremely important to the resale value of your home. The idea is to buy a house that will appeal to the largest number of potential future homebuyers. A careful choice of location can minimize potential negative influences on future resale value, and maximize positive influences.
Focusing on resale value requires you to make several different "location" choices. The first choice you have to make is "which community?" At the very least, you should narrow your choice down to just a few local communities.
Local Community, Town or City
Before you can actually pick out a house, you need to choose what cities or communities you would like to live in. There are many factors you should pay attention to, not only for yourself, but because you intend to eventually sell the home to someone else. Carefully choosing your community is the first step in "location, location, location" and can help maximize your future potential resale value.
When choosing a community for your purchase, it makes the most sense to buy in a city with a viable and stable economy. Five, ten, or even fifteen years from now when you want to sell your home you can have a reasonable expectation that your community will still be a desirable place to live.
In addition to residential neighborhoods, there should be a healthy mixture of commercial and business districts. These not only provide jobs to the local residents, but also add an income source that the city can use to upgrade and maintain roads and city services.
In fact, you should take a drive and see how well the community is maintained. You have probably heard of "pride of ownership" when referring to an individual home or an automobile. Look to live in a city that demonstrates community pride, as well.
Local Government Services
In addition to community pride, check on the services provided by local government. One example would be the local library system. Are there several library branches? Do they stock a good selection of books, including recent best sellers?
You should also look into local crime statistics and see how the city compares to the national average and other local communities. Is the police force effective and responsive to community needs? Are fire stations located strategically around the community so that they also can respond quickly in an emergency?
Another area of inquiry is community services. Does the city sponsor youth sports and have well maintained athletic facilities and parks? Do they sponsor community events, such as an annual parade? Are there activities available for children, teenagers and senior citizens?
Your local agent, if they are a good one, will have amassed a wealth of information on these subjects of inquiry. It is also another reason to always use a local agent.
Even if you do not have school-age children and do not intend to have children, you must pay attention to the local school system. That is because when you sell the property, many of your potential buyers will have concerns of this nature.
You will want to know if the local schools are overcrowded. Take a drive around and see if there are auxiliary trailers outside the local schools. Call up the local school district and see if elementary aged children always attend the school closest to their home. If not, ask why. Are there enough schools to support the local population? If not, are there plans to build new schools? How will building new schools affect local property taxes?
You should also check to see how local students score on the standardized tests. You can ask your agent about these things, but you should also get the local phone numbers so you can ask yourself.
There are also school reports available for free on the Internet.
Property taxes may be higher in one town than another nearby city. This can sometimes affect whether potential homebuyers view a community as a desirable place to live. Often, they will choose not to purchase in a community with higher taxes, though this decision is not always justified. Higher property taxes often mean newer and more modern schools, well-maintained roads, and bountiful community services.
In addition, you will often find that the "cost per square foot" of homes is lower in cities that have higher property taxes. This means you can buy a bigger house for less money. Since the mortgage payment may be lower, but the property taxes a bit higher, the monthly housing costs may be approximately the same in each city.
However, many agents and prospective buyers have a bias against a community with higher property taxes. If resale value is important to you, make property taxes a consideration when choosing the location of your new home.
The Local Neighborhood
The term "local neighborhood" refers to an area wide enough to cover your residential area plus nearby stores such as the "neighborhood grocery store."
You want to be sure all essential shops and services are located nearby. This would include grocery stores, gas stations, dry cleaners, and convenience stores. There should also be fairly convenient access to local highways, major traffic routes, and mass transit.
One thing you should look out for, though. If your local shopping center is in decline, it could be an indicator that the local neighborhood is in decline, too. Check to see if a lot of storefronts in your local center are vacant or available for lease. If they are, you might want to consider moving your purchase a few blocks.
The Residential Neighborhood
Within your residential neighborhood, you want the nearby properties to be fairly homogeneous -- alike in style, size, and structure. This does not mean they should all be exactly the same, either. Owners will put their own unique stamp on their homes.
Your future home should be located as close to the center of this neighborhood as possible. Avoid the edges. In short, you do not want your property to back or side to a busy street. If you are buying a single family home, you do not want your property to border a condominium, apartment complex, business, school, or even a park.
You also want to make sure the street you buy on is not used as a shortcut between two busier streets. Nor do you want to buy a house on a corner lot, as those tend to attract more street traffic and are not as safe for children. Buy in the middle of the block or on a cul de sac.
Like we said before, you want your home to be neatly tucked away in the center of your residential neighborhood.