Why should I listen to a builder who is trying to sell me one of his home? – Some might say that. However, I design my homes so that they will have the greatest value for the money with the least objections for my customers. So, I have a unique view of common risks in buying a home- here goes.
1. Never underestimate location and don’t rationalize a bad location. When I drive along I-95 or the Turnpike I see homes backing up to these super busy roads with no sound or view protection. I ask myself- “why did they build here?” My usual guess is they owned the land way before the roads were built or they received the lot as a gift-free. This is rationalization of a bad site. These people invested in the construction costs of this home at a bad location. DOT does have a policy that if they increase traffic (widening) next to a residential area they are required to erect a sound wall- generally 16-20 feet tall. That would be best case and pure luck for this bad decision.
Otherwise when it comes time to sell that house it will take a long time to find just the right buyer or they will need to severely discount the price. There are other bad locations to avoid- dumps. RR track proximity, next to industrial areas, etc. Having said that- in the past 9 years I have built two townhome projects fronting both I-95 and The Florida Turnpike- both were great locations and at both locations we installed a 20’ high decorative sound wall. The walls made the difference as both projects sold out quickly and resales have been strong.
2. Never buy a bad floorplan– Unless you plan to renovate it into a good floorplan. We spend hours and weeks fine tuning our floorplans. We also religiously shop our competition so we are exposed to many good floorplans. After a while we see the same variations used over and over. We were recently looking for a new house and viewed an existing home on the market that over the years the owner had added on to numerous times. The additions were done tastefully but the floorplan became confusing and excessive- nothing scaled out.
When I first walked into this home, I saw what reminded me of a furniture showroom, not to mention the owner totally blocked his golf course view in the process- 3 family rooms in a row- great party house but not practical. That will be a tough sale. If you are buying a house school yourself on what makes a great floorplan. Look at other builder’s floorplans and study those that are similar throughout every builder’s offerings.
3. Always look for homes that you will be able to sell quickly and with anticipated appreciation. If you do not follow steps 1. and 2. above you will not satisfy step 3. I believe the average stay in a home today is around 4 years. So eventually you will be moving. I do see that time frame increasing as good real estate locations become harder to find and as new home prices continue to accelerate. Another way to ensure maximum appreciation is to find a well-located lot and have a builder build your custom home on that lot. Many national builders now have a “build on your lot” program.
The same goes for remodeling an old house and bringing it up to standards and current trends. I have done both of these with great success. If you buy a good location, with a solid floorplan you will have taken a giant step towards an easy resell and appreciation down the road.
In part 2 of this 3-part series we will cover- school districts, amenities, ugly homes.
Stephen Gravett has been a real estate developer for over 45 years and was most recently CEO of Kennedy Homes for the past 11 years and is still CEO of Kennedy Development Partners (KDP) and full time Director of Operations for 5 Star Developers. He is also a state licensed broker and since 1980 a State licensed General Contractor Unlimited. He flew B-52’s in the US Air Force during the Vietnam war.