block away, you won’t get a good price when you want to sell.”
Nearby houses definitely deserve some attention, according to Williams. “If you look out the window and see a bright orange house, you may have a problem when it’s time to sell,” she says.
Williams also suggests that areas with a neighborhood watch, or a homeowner’s covenant that maintains standards of appearance and behavior, are desirable because those features ultimately help resale value. “If you’re being asked to pay dues to a homeowner’s association, that may be a good sign,” she says. “It could indicate that the covenant is being taken seriously, with the means to enforce it.”
Hire an experienced home inspector before buying. When you are buying a home, go beyond a cursory eyeball examination to make sure it has been maintained and modernized. “From my experience, I would advise anyone about to buy a home to hire a home inspector,” says English. “Be sure the electrical work, plumbing, and support beams are checked. Based on the inspector’s report, tell the seller what the house needs and don’t go to closing until you know it’s been done.” Alternatively, you can plan on making the necessary repairs yourself, but adjust your purchase price accordingly.
“Pay attention to the condition of the yard as well as the house,” says Baker. “You should have an idea of what you’ll have to spend on landscaping before deciding whether it fits your budget.”
Even if the house passes inspection now, be wary of possible future expenses. “A frame house will s
uffer from termites,” says Rice. “It’s just a matter of time. A brick house, on the other hand, stays forever.”
Be prepared to negotiate on price. “To get an idea of whether an asking price is fair, ask realtors about [the price of] houses that have been sold recently in that area,” says Rice. “The best guide to what a house is worth is the price someone just paid for a similar house in the same area.”
When you negotiate the price you’ll pay for a house, you should be reasonable. “Consult the realtor on an appropriate offer. Be aware that if you begin negotiations with too low a figure, the seller may refuse to negotiate with you at all because it seems that you’re not dealing in good faith,” says Rice.
Consider building instead of buying. Home buyers may decide they’d rather build than buy a house. In that case, location is even more important. You can put whatever you can afford into the house, but its resale value, ultimately, will be affected by where you build it.
“We looked at the homes on the market and couldn’t find what we wanted at the price we could afford to pay,” says William Noel, 40, a sales representative who just moved into a newly built home in Oklahoma City. “The houses we saw didn’t have as much space, especially yard space.”
Noel’s wife, Daisy, 38, says that they needed a large house. “We have three children, and we home-school them.