Posted on October 19, 2015 - 07:00 AM
by Jamie Wiebe
Ahhhh, you’ve finally found your dream home. Right?
Before you commit to buying, make sure you consider whether some of your favorite features might actually hold back your house when (way down the line) it comes time to sell. Some design and architectural details—such as pools and multiple stories—split homeowners evenly, with half considering them a no-go and the other half completely obsessed.
So be informed! While these features won’t necessarily be the main factors determining whether or not you sign on the dotted (home-purchase) line, it’s best to know exactly what you’re getting into. Here’s what to look for in your future home.
1. A school next door
If you have young kids, living next door to their school might seem like a dream come true. Who wouldn’t love letting their children walk a mere block or two to school every day?
But buyers without school-age children won’t see it that way.
“The younger set love it because their kids can walk to school,” says Realtor® Amy Cook in San Diego. “Buyers over 50 seem to be not so happy because of the traffic and kids wandering everywhere through their streets.”
With schools come endless lines of cars and yellow buses—as well as a tempered speed limit that might make getting to work each morning a monumental pain. Oh, and all that joyful, exuberant noise from the playground? Not so joyful when you’re working or relaxing at home.
“Having your kid walk across the street to school might be an awesome thing for particular buyers,” says Bob Ripp, a real estate appraiser in Fort Collins, CO. “Then again, the traffic implications might not be something that appeals to everyone.”
2. Middle-of-the-action location
Some people love to look out their windows and see the world going by: restaurants and bars within walking distance, your favorite vintage shop just three doors down, and easy access to major thoroughfares.
But think again before buying. Unless your city veers strongly urban, it might be difficult later to sell the home. Not everyone wants to live directly adjacent to a busy street.
“Homes that are on busy streets command less value than interior homes,” says Ripp. So while you might be intrigued by the activity, potential buyers may not. If you go into your purchase knowing the risk, you’re far less likely to be surprised 10 or 20 years down the line.
3. Upstairs, downstairs, or in between?
There’s something inherently romantic about a multistory home: grand staircases leading into the foyer, curling up in a bay window reading nook overlooking your lawn from the second story. But when it comes time to sell, your two-story home might offer its own unique challenges—especially if it doesn’t have the master bedroom on the first floor.
“A downstairs bedroom seems to be a go or no-go item,” says Cook. “A lot of buyers won’t even look at a home unless it has one.”
The staircase alone might be a problem for some buyers who might be older, have bad knees, or just don’t want to dash up and down a flight of stairs whenever they need something in another room.
“In general, one-story ranch homes are highly sought after in certain age groups” such as baby boomers or seniors, says Ripp.
4. A swimming pool
If you live in a city where an in-ground pool is a must-have, you can skip this advice—as always, the rules vary by location. But if you live in a mild or cold climate, don’t expect a swimming pool to help you out much when you put your home on the market.
“There are several instances where pools detract from the home,” says Ripp, such as when it requires significant maintenance compared with the amount of year it is usable.
Bottom line? If you want a pool, great. But don’t expect it to add value when it comes time to sell. Accept that the only return on this feature could be fun, not money.
5. Over-the-top renovations
So you’re in love with this home’s fancy-pants kitchen—and who wouldn’t want a double oven? But if no other homes in your neighborhood offer features such as high-end granite countertops or an elaborately landscaped yard, they could be overkill when it comes time to sell.
“People do overimprove, and there can be consequences to that,” says Ripp.
For one, if these features are really high-end, you run the risk of pricing yourself out of the market. Plus, if you’re in a modest neighborhood, no one wants to be the people who bought that ostentatious home. You know, that one with the double oven.
6. Big (or small) backyard
An acre of land? All for you?! Zut alors!
Backyard size can be a huge divider. You might love your giant backyard with room for a garden, playhouse, and seating area, but some buyers might not want to deal with the upkeep.
“The size of the yard can be a very big factor,” Cook says. “Some people actually don’t want any maintenance and prefer to have a very small yard. Others want a yard for their kids or want privacy.”
If this makes you finally glad you went for less acreage, think again. Both options have their downsides. If your lawn is small without any kind of barrier that mimics seclusion, it too might be difficult to sell.
“Many homes get nixed because of the lack of privacy with other houses right beside it,” says Cook.
7. Tile flooring
If you love the tiling, that’s fantastic; however, future potential buyers of your home may not agree. Because tiles are one of the most difficult flooring types to remove—turn on any renovation TV show and you’ll find frustrated homeowners hacking at tiles for hours—they can easily dismay prospective buyers.
“Tile is very difficult and expensive to change, and often what owners choose just isn’t very attractive,” says Cook. “Basic white, dated tile is usually a big turn-off for buyers.”
Not that you should go in and remove pre-existing tile—especially if you love it—but just know that not everyone will swoon like you. A better bet is the ever popular basic hardwood.
Jamie Wiebe has written about home design and real estate for House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Veranda, and more. She loves vintage furniture, collecting fluffy blankets, and DIY-ing everything.