By: Mark H. Stowers
What Should You Think About When Buying a House?
Buying a home is a life-changing purchase but those looking for one should check out more than the nice shiny amenities, fixtures and sparkling new paint during an Open House. To make sure it’s a good investment, be sure your checklist includes how well the previous owners took care of your soon to be prized possession. Colleen Murphy, a realtor with Jim Shaffer and Associates for nearly five years, averages between 60 and 70 home sales a year. She helps her clients find the right fit for their budget and for their lifestyle now and in the future. For those first-time buyers and those coming back into the market, she offers some input on what “red flags” and potential problems to look out for.
“Look at what your future expenses might be so that you’re aware,” Murphy said. “New buyers who have rented may not realize what a furnace replacement or repair costs or what a hot water heater cost. Those are the types of things I point out when we’re looking at a home.”
Big ticket items such as a roof or new windows “are not the fun things to look at,” she noted. “The finishes are important but the mechanicals are what’s going to cost you.”
Home value is “in the eye of the beholder. Just like anything else. How does the house hold value? If it’s maintained and cleaned,” she explained. “It doesn’t matter if you have a house for 40 years or four years. Things like beat up corners show you how someone has taken care of the house. If the outside looks nice, the inside has probably been taken care of and vice versa.”
Homeowners who have “loved and cared for” their houses make a great investment, especially if that care is continued and maintained.
“Even when the markets were lower, if you had taken care of your home, it was easier to sell or even to rent,” she said. “It’s all just about maintenance. Those are the things we look for when we walk through a home.”
Strong interest rates are good for home buyers currently and according to Murphy, the return on investment is always there if you maintain it.
“People in this market may feel like they are overpaying but you’re paying for what’s there. A listing price is just someone’s opinion, the value is always in the eye of the beholder. Know what you want and need and what you will pay for it.”
Other factors making it a good investment depend on the home buyer.
“Look at the populations and demographics of the area. An investor wants to buy where people are transitioning a lot like Royal Oak and Ferndale. If you’re looking at a market like Troy and Birmingham with good schools, people are staying in their homes longer making it a long-term investment. It’s important for buyers to know their goals. A lot of them don’t understand the costs – closing costs, how we pay our property taxes – those are all
conversations I have with my buyers. Get an experienced agent.”
But simply put in investment language, a good investment is something that will pay you more than you paid for it. And simply put, a well-maintained home can be that good investment.
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