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7 Promising Signs the Home You’re Buying Will Have Good Resale Value

September 13, 2018

While it might seem premature to think about selling a home before you even buy it, it’s important to remember that a house is an investment. And in an ideal world, investments make money—not lose it.

That’s why resale value should be an important consideration when house hunting. No, it shouldn’t supersede your must-have requirements (if you demand 20 acres and lakefront access, prioritize that). But if you do your best to predict how the house you’re buying—and the neighborhood it’s in—will appeal to future buyers, then future-you will be a whole lot happier. And possibly richer.

Considering resale value “also saves the buyers a lot of money, as they will not need to spend big on renovations or updates,” says real estate agent Lukasz Kukwa.

But one caveat: Good resale value is never a promise.

“It is almost impossible to guarantee that a home will retain its full resale value, as the local market and economic factors have a large effect on the housing market,” Kukwa says.

In short: Resale value is anybody’s guess if the economy tanks. But there are some indicators to watch for that could be the difference between barely squeaking by or coming out ahead. As you hit the house-hunting trail, look for these promising signs that suggest your investment will be a smart one.

1. The neighborhood’s hopping…

Pay attention to your surroundings when house hunting. Is the neighborhood walkable? Or is a trip to the grocery store so onerous it requires snacks for the road? Meanwhile, are there restaurants nearby for those nights you simply just can’t?

“If you buy in an area that is not well-developed and doesn’t have good infrastructure—like shopping close by—you will not have a high rate of return on the home,” says Realtor® Patricia Vosburgh.

“The more amenities, the higher chances the home will sell faster and for more money,” she explains.

Even if there are development plans in the works, don’t bank on that to prop up property values; construction can stall or be scrapped entirely. When calculating your home’s future worth, focus on what exists now.

2. … but the street itself is quiet

Buying a home is a study in contrasts: You want a gorgeous kitchen—and good delivery options, too. You need five bedrooms—and a decent hotel around the corner, because no way is your mother-in-law staying with you. You want things to be hopping—but not in your backyard.

“We advise against buying on a busy street or purchasing a home surrounded by commercial properties nearby,” Vosburgh says.

Not that there aren’t buyers—possibly even you—who love living in the middle of the action. But before you buy the bungalow next to your favorite watering hole, consider that future buyers might not be so keen.

3. The home’s systems are in good shape

Many people consider return on investment to be the sum of a simple calculation: Will the home sell for more than you paid?

But it’s a little more complex than that. You have to factor in how much you’ll spend on the home while living there—even if the market becomes red-hot. And if the home’s vital components are falling apart, you’ll be spending a lot.

Your inspector can give you a rundown of your future home’s health, but keep a close eye on the roof, water heater, HVAC system, windows, and foundation. Pay attention to the plumbing and electrical, too. A problem with any one of these major systems can require a costly repair—and take a bite out of your payday.

“When these items are new or in good standing, that’s a great sign,” Kukwa says.

4. The schools are great

If you’re child-free, this one might seem entirely irrelevant. But a word to the wise: If you think you might someday sell your home, you’ll want to factor in the school district before you buy.

“Even if buyers personally don’t have children, for resale it is imperative that they buy in a great school zone,” Vosburgh says. (You can check school ratings at GreatSchools.org.)

Just make sure to do your research and determine where the home sits in relation to the school district boundaries.

“Often agents will advertise a property as being near such-and-such school area, but not necessarily specify the district, which can be very confusing,” explains Tina Maraj, a Realtor with Re/Max North Orange County in Fullerton, CA. “It can be a real eye-opener if a buyer closes and they’re on one side of a main street that is the dividing line between the top-rated and the lowest-rated high schools.”

5. The light is inspiring

“Any apartment in any neighborhood that has good light will sell—and will always sell,” says New York City broker Noemi Bitterman.

With good light, “there is always a good feeling—a feeling of embracing and belonging,” she continues. “When [a home] is dark, no matter how nice and new it is, it doesn’t feel inviting, it takes a much longer time to sell, and the price reflects the lack of light.”

Whether you’re shopping for a condo, apartment, or house, visit the property at different times of the day to see how the light affects the space.

6. The floor plan is family-friendly

Again? asks the child-free reader. Must all my housing decisions be dictated by families? No. But if you’re hoping to sell that home for a profit down the road, you should keep kid-friendliness in mind.

“Look for a home with a floor plan that will appeal to families,” says broker Kris Lindahl. That means at least three—if not four—bedrooms on the same level, an open concept kitchen, and at least one bathtub.

And always pay attention to the number of bathrooms. You want “enough to avoid fights in the morning,” Lindahl says.

On a related note: No matter how much you love that gloriously unique Frank Lloyd Wright spiral house, it’s often best to stick to a more traditional floor plan if you’re worried about selling later.

“Buying a home that is too quirky or has very untraditional features can result in a decreased ROI and smaller pool of potential buyers in the future,” Kukwa says.

7. The community is restrictive

Homeowners associations can be a pain in the butt—the irritating restrictions, the monotonous meetings, the monthly dues that you’re not always sure you can account for.

But an HOA can actually be helpful, at least when it comes to resale value. That’s because HOAs usually keep everyone in line, preventing your neighbors from letting weeds take over their lawn, painting their houses bright pink, or permanently parking an RV in the middle of your street—all things that could ding the value of your home.

Of course, purchasing an HOA-regulated home isn’t for everyone. But if you’re seriously concerned about the resale value of your new home, covenants and restrictions could keep you flush.


Wendy Helfenbaum contributed to this story.

The post 7 Promising Signs the Home You’re Buying Will Have Good Resale Value appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Should You Buy a Smoker’s House? How to Get Rid of Cigarette Smells

August 3, 2018

Ashtray in Smokers House

artisteer/ istock

Should you buy a smoker’s house? This question may confront you once you feel you’ve found the perfect place … except for that ashtray smell permeating every single room. Is this a deal breaker?

If the smell of cigarette smoke makes you recoil, you’re not alone: One study found that smoking in a home can reduce its resale value by up to 29%.

Still, once a smoker moves out, will the pall of cigarette odor lift, or will it linger? Is there a way to get rid of that stench for good? Answers ahead.

Health impacts of thirdhand smoke in a home

That smell of cigarettes long past isn’t, in fact, just a smell—it’s a residue called thirdhand smoke (THS).

“The lingering odor isn’t just unpleasant; studies have also linked it to cancer,” says Joshua Miller, director of technical training at Rainbow International, a home restoration company.

Tobacco-specific nitrosamines and nitrous acid are two of the biggest threats that cling to walls, dust, and other surfaces within a house. THS residue exposure can be especially dangerous for pets and small children, who often pick up dust and particulate matter on their hands or paws, and then put them in their mouth.

Worst of all, the effects just don’t pass.

“You could breathe in several hundred nanograms of these carcinogens long after the last cigarette burned out,” says Miller.

Just how long afterward? In one study, researchers at San Diego State University measured thirdhand smoke pollutant levels in smokers’ homes after they’d moved out. These pollutants remained even after the homes had been cleaned and vacant for two months. True, THS levels had diminished in that time, but they were still present at higher levels than in nonsmokers’ homes.

Signs of a smoker’s house

Sellers are not required to disclose that a home has housed a smoker, so if you’re worried about it, be sure to keep an eye—and nose—out for it. A smoky smell is an obvious sign, of course, but a strong smell of Febreze, air fresheners, or other fragrances could mean that the seller is trying to mask an odor. A fresh coat of paint can also mask cigarette odors, but they will eventually return.

Ask your home inspector to give you his opinion about whether someone has smoked in a house you are interested in. You are totally within your rights to ask the seller’s listing agent directly; a reputable professional should not lie about the condition of the home.

Should you buy a smoker’s house?

When you’re deciding whether to buy a smoker’s home, you should weigh not only the health risks, but what’s involved in getting rid of cigarette smells. Even if you’re getting a good deal on the price of the home, it’ll take some concerted work to eliminate the odor.

How to get rid of cigarette smell in a house

Getting rid of cigarette odor isn’t easy, since it seeps into everything. Cleaning can help, but replacing entire systems may be in order. Here’s what you can do to eliminate thirdhand smoke.

HVAC system

In a smoker’s house, every part of the central air system has come into contact with smoke over the years, explains Richard Ciresi, owner of Aire Serv in Louisville, KY. Here are some steps you can take to rectify this:

  • “Clean the air ducts,” says Ciresi. “Professional air duct cleaning is an effective way to eliminate odors that manifest when you turn on the furnace or AC.”
  • Change the filter on your HVAC unit. Normally, you would do this every few months. If you’re trying to fight the smell of thirdhand smoke, step that up to every 30 to 45 days.
  • Clean the evaporator coil. “Fumes can be pulled into the evaporator coil of an HVAC unit. The odor permeates the coil, and blasts the smell of cigarettes every time you run the air conditioner,” says Ciresi.
  • If nothing else fixes the problem, you may need to replace the system entirely. Of course, replacing your HVAC isn’t cheap. Expect to spend anywhere from $6,000 to $18,000, depending on your home’s size and the climate where you live.

Wash walls and ceilings

Miller recommends cleaning the walls and ceiling with a 3:1 vinegar-water mixture.

“Ceilings can be the biggest culprit in a persisting smoke smell in a home, since cigarette smoke tends to travel upwards and latch onto the first surface it comes in contact with,” he explains.

Trisodium phosphate (TSP), a strong, general-purpose cleaning product, is also great for removing smoke smell and stains.

Change lightbulbs

Smelly dust can fuse onto lightbulbs as they get hot, so change them out. Windows can also retain a smoky film that emits odor when they’re warmed by sun, so be sure to give them a thorough washing. Blinds can also be washed with vinegar or TSP—or, better yet, throw them out.

Paint

If washing doesn’t eliminate the smell from walls and ceilings, then your next best bet is to repaint them all, first sealing in the smell with an odor-neutralizing primer like Kilz. Without the layer of primer, the smell will eventually seep back through the paint.

Clean floors and carpets

“You can sprinkle a deodorizing powder like baking soda on carpets,” says Miller. If that doesn’t work, try a professional steam clean. In the worst-case scenario, the carpets will have to be replaced.

For wood or tile, a normal cleaning with the recommended cleaner should do the trick. Be sure to vacuum up all the dust from every nook and cranny, as the dust contains the harmful (and stinky) chemicals.

Wash curtains and drapes

Fabric tends to hold onto the smoke smell, so you’ll probably need to clean all the window treatments. Depending on the fabric, some can be washed in the washing machine, while others have to be steam cleaned. You can rent a steamer, or hire a professional to take care of this for you. If cleaning doesn’t completely get the smell out, they’ll have to be replaced.

Get an air filter

Ciresi also recommends getting an indoor air filter, preferably with a HEPA filter and charcoal odor prefilter. A dehumidifier can reduce smoke smell in humid weather.

The post Should You Buy a Smoker’s House? How to Get Rid of Cigarette Smells appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.