Before we even get started on this list, it’s important to note: You should buy your home for yourself and make it what you want. Unless you’re buying and remodeling homes specifically to resell, you spend a ton of time in your home, and you should love it.
That said, when you are buying a home or remodeling a home, you should think about the future value of your investments. And, your home is likely to be your biggest single investment of your life. You want the money you put in a home to be there, or have grown, when it comes time to move on. That makes it important for you to buy a good house in the first place, and also important that you make improvements that will make it a better house for you, as well as increase its value in the long run.
Our list of Dos and Don’ts is not exhaustive but it is quite hefty so we divided it into two posts, starting with the Dos. If you mind these tips, you’ll have a good chance at making yourself an awesome home that retains or increases its worth.
List what you need and what you want in a home. If you know what you need in a house, you’ll better be able to avoid the trap of over-buying. Do you need four bedrooms, or will three suffice? Do you need a half acre yard? Is a swimming pool necessary? When you’re researching houses, you can make a house has what you need first, and then put the homes with the most items on your want list at the top of the list.
Look for solid bones. Interior and exterior improvements are much easier and more affordable to make than structural repairs and improvements. Plus, structural improvements don’t add value – they just make the home what it is supposed to be. A good foundation and good structure lets you add and subtract to get what you want from a home. A house with foundation problems or termite damage will suck your wallet dry.
Search online for homes, in addition to your agent’s search. Even a good real estate agent will push you to spend more money because their commission increases with the sales price. So, give them a range you can afford, and then search within that range and below it. You’ll be surprised how often you find something the agent didn’t.
Get pre-approved for what you want to spend. Sellers will deal with buyers who are preapproved more than those who are not. Don’t bring a pre-approval letter for way more than you intend to spend, because sellers will think you should pay more. Have your lender write a letter for a small amount over your purchase offer so the sellers have confidence the sale will go through.
Think about asking for closing costs from the seller. When buying a pre-owned home, you’ll almost always want to change or improve it. In addition to your down payment, buyers normally have several thousand dollars to spend on appraisals, fees, insurance, and other closing costs. By asking the seller to absorb some in you offer, you can make a higher offer and still conserve cash to start making improvements right away.
Get an inspection and pest inspection. This might be the most obvious tip on the entire list, but you’d be surprised how many people won’t pay for inspections. The $300-400, on average, that you spend on inspections can literally save you tens of thousands of dollars in unexpected repairs. Inspections are your key to avoid buying a money pit.
Look at the neighborhood and schools. Firehouses are great – just maybe not across the street from your house where you’ll hear every late night siren. The same goes for railroad tracks, bus stops and loud businesses. More information about school quality is available online than ever before. You should examine school rating whether you have children or not, because the next buyer is definitely going to. All of these things can affect your quality of life and the resale value of your home.
Pay attention to trends. When you start decorating and remodeling your home, you want it to be appealing and look current. Most home buyers expect stone countertops and stainless steel appliances in remodeled kitchens, now. Trends in paint colors, hardwoods, and other amenities change from year to year. Pick your updates wisely and you won’t regret your decisions in six months.
Improve your home’s curb appeal. Green grass and appealing flower beds set a good mood for you, your guests, and later, potential buyers. Shutters can make empty windows assets for your home’s face. A pergola over the footpath to your home can really set it apart in the neighborhood.