Choose a home that will hold its value

The most important features that help sell a home are the three you hear about all the time: location, location, location. But beyond neighborhood, there are a number of factors that influence resale value.

This is an important consideration. Even if you believe you’ve found your dream home and will never move, chances are you will sell it one day.

Here are some of the home features that help sell a home:

Outside
REALTORS® cite curb appeal as key to selling a house. In fact, it can add five to 10 percent to a home’s value. But if a home doesn’t make a good first impression, a stunning interior seldom compensates. So, if a house has curb appeal when you buy it, maintain it, because it will work for prospective buyers, too, when you want to sell.

Ironically, the elaborate garden or pool that attracts you to a house is a deterrent for many prospective buyers because it looks like too much work to maintain. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to add what many REALTORS® consider the best landscaping feature for resale: very large, healthy, mature trees. A garage is a definite plus for resale, especially if most houses on the street have one, and the rule is the bigger, the better.

Inside
On the inside, the ambiance of the house matters almost as much as how new it is or how well finished individual rooms are. A light, bright feeling appeals to buyers. Look for a home with large windows, good sun exposure, walkouts to the garden and perhaps even a vaulted ceiling in the main room.

The floor plan is a vital consideration for resale. If it is cut up into small spaces with rooms that relate to each other awkwardly, the house will always make a poor impression on prospective buyers, even with superb decorating. Layout preferences vary from region to region and are often related to climate. But some features are universally popular: a large separation between the master bedroom and secondary bedrooms; a central area where living, family dining and kitchen areas flow together; and a main or second-floor family room.

Not surprisingly, experts say kitchens and bathrooms are the areas that affect resale value most. The only debate is over which room has the most impact. A contemporary kitchen with new appliances is a big draw. Updated bathrooms, especially a luxurious master suite bath, are also popular.

Most REALTORS® say that a three-bedroom house has a much wider market than one with fewer bedrooms. Four or more bedrooms don’t necessarily help sell a house, but shifts its market to larger families. A spacious master bedroom is an expected feature in newer homes, at least, rather than a selling point -- if you don’t have one, it can be a problem. Ample storage and closet space are also compelling resale features.

Services and structure
Modern services, especially those that are difficult to add, such as built-in air conditioning and central vacuum, are important features for many buyers. Up-to-date wiring and plumbing are not so much selling features as significant deterrents to potential buyers if they are not present. Even in older homes, these must be up to current standards or the house languishes on the market.

Just as sparkling new kitchens and baths help sell a home, certain flaws have the opposite effect. For instance, damp basements, signs of water damage (especially from leaky roofs), or permanent damage from poor maintenance, are major sales detriments. Avoid a home with these obvious problems unless you know you can afford to fix them and make your money back when it’s time to sell.

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