Top 10 factors that determine the value of your house

Everyone has heard the platitude that what matters in real estate is “location, location, location” but that is NOT very useful when you are thinking of what to change or add to your property.  Every buyer would put these in a different order, but in most cases I think these 10 would surely be at the top of the list in any home buying decision. (And three of them do relate to location)

Gross Location

This is the city and neighborhood where a home is located.  This is the one factor above all others that determines the value of a house.  This is what makes a home in certain neighborhoods in California worth $500,000 while the same house in Utah is worth only $200,000.  You can’t change it so if you already own, don’t stress.  If you are shopping, think it through.

2.  Number of Bedrooms and Baths

The number of bedrooms and bathrooms will determine what the potential audience is for any given house.  A one bedroom home obviously does not serve the person who wants 5.  In general more is better, but the ratio of bedrooms and baths matters.  New homes generally stick to no more than 2 beds per bath(2-1).  If the ratio is more like 3-1 the home may be considered functionally obsolete.  So if you are short on baths, adding one is not a bad idea.

3.  Year built

Buyers make a lot of assumptions about a home based soley on the year the home was built.  You cannot change this number so if your home is updated, and you are ready to sell, good marketing is crucial.

4.  Quality of Design and Construction

These two usually go hand in hand so they are combined.  A well designed home is most often well built because the builder took the time to think the project through from beginning to end.  There are exceptions, such as when a project runs out of money, but once a buyer is enticed to a property this factor is the intangible that causes love or disenchantment.

5.  Garages

You can’t usually go wrong with more garages!  WARNING: Sexist stereotype follows.  As long as a man is part of the buying decision, I have never seen a house with too many garages.

6.  Condition

Has the home been taken care of?  This answer to this question is not usually determined by the age and condition of the property, but instead by how old the fixtures, paint and interior style appears.  You can make up for a lot with paint, but if you do paint invest in a lot of good masking tape and do it well.  A terrible paint job is worse than none at all.  Happily bad paint is easy to fix!

7.  Style

This is in reference to the actual style of home.  Whether a rambler, a split-entry or a tri-level, each style will appeal to a different set of buyers.  Some styles will actually be excluded from consideration.  If your home style is one of those that gets eliminated early in a search and you are considering a serious remodel, think about changing the style of your home if possible.

8.  Lot attributes

Lot size, dimensions, and street type become a big factor once a buyer gets to a home.  This is one more location item.  Remember that lot sizes ore one thing and appearance is another.  The way a lot is landscaped, or the dimensions can affect the perception of size more than the actual measurements of the property.  If you are building, NEVER squeeze a house into a lot.  Make sure that the lot and home harmonize and you will get more out of your investment.

9.  Master Bedroom/Bath

Having a master bedroom is a plus.  Not having a maser bath can decrease the value of a home by up to 10%

10.  Efficiency

By efficiency I mean both energy efficiency as well as quality and condition of mechanical systems, insulation and windows.  Most of the time issues with this come up in an inspection and can be a deal breaker.  If you are going to be in a home for a long time it is a great place to spend money, but if not you may want to sell your home as it is and let the new owner decide what to do with it.

Do you think I missed any important factors?  There may be something else that belongs in the top 10.  If you can think of it, please let me know!