How to make a wise decision when buying

Ever wish somebody could tell you EXACTLY what to do to make sure you don’t buy a house that will depreciate?  That was something that nobody ever thought about just a few years ago.  Back then, any house in this area was selling and selling for top dollar.

Here is my list of what to find in your next house.  The more of these you have, the better your chance of getting a house that will be a wise investment.  Remember, as long as there is a real estate market, people will always buy the best houses that are on the market!

LOCATION:  You hear a lot about this in Real Estate.  A good location really just means that it is convenient to SOMETHING or has a unique asset!  It can be shopping, the airport, the interstate, schools, a park…..really just anything unique or desireable.  A house probably doesn’t have a good location if you find yourself thinking, “Gee, other than being nowhere near anything, that house is great!”  A neighborhood like that will always have to sell on low price.  That is why in large metro areas people buy in the suburbs.

SCHOOLS:  Buy in an area that has at least average performing schools.  People moving within Lexington seem to be fine with a decent school.  Out of town buyers always want to be in the best school district.  Look for an area that has a well rounded mix of elementary, middle and high schools.

NEIGHBORHOOD:  New is nice, but established is always better.  Pick a neighborhood that is large enough to not be negatively impacted by the surrounding ones.  Usually a cheaper larger neighborhood will bring down a smaller nicer one.  The opposite holds true too.  Kenwick use to be an inexpensive area.  It was surrounded by Fairway, Ashland Park and Bell Court.    Its location and surrounding neighborhoods started putting it on people’s radar in the 1990’s.  You also want a neighborhood that has its own distinct identity.  I don’t mean it has to have giant columns in the front with the name chiseled in stone.  Chevy Chase doesn’t have anything that says “You are now entering Chevy Chase”, but you know you are there.  That is identity.  If an area doesn’t have an identity, then it isn’t known for any of the items I am talking about here.

LOT:  Ideally, you want to have a lot that is located well within the perimeter of the neighborhood.  That insulates the impact from cheaper areas that border your neighborhood.  While I am on lots, get one that is at least average size for the neighborhood.  You don’t want one of the smaller ones.  It will turn away a lot of buyers……unless we have another frenzy at the time you go to sell.

FLOOR PLAN:  You want a house that has a useable layout and typical sized rooms.  A tiny kitchen in a 4 bedroom house will not bring in as much money.  You’d need to price it lower than the competition or upgrade it to make somebody be willing to overlook it.  If you find yourself saying things like “If it wasn’t for______, that house would be perfect!”, then you know the person looking at houses when you go to sell will say the same thing.   In a slower market, buyers get very picky.

Basically, the goal is to get a house that will be someone’s top pick when it comes time to sell.  I call this ‘Thinking Outside the House.”  Most buyers just want to find a house they like.  The reality of Real Estate is that a lot of a house’s value is determined by things outside of the house itself.

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