Establishing Roots

2012-11-11T00:00:00Z Establishing Rootsby Michelle Krueger Times Homes Columnist nwitimes.com
November 11, 2012 12:00 am  • 

For the majority of us, owning a home is much more than investing in property – it’s about investing in our selves, our families and our communities.

That being said, when it comes to finding a home you want to live in, a number of characteristics come into play. With the emphasis on affordability for the long haul today (who really wants to stop going out for dinner and skip vacations for the next 30 years in order to make a mortgage payment that looks like just a bit of a stretch right now?), the real goal is to find a home that meets your needs in a location you love, close to people you like and near the places you frequent like work, schools, parks, the grocery store, restaurants, entertainment and healthcare providers.

Chances are, if a home meets your needs today it’s also going to work for another buyer when the time comes. Plus, when you add the value of any improvements you make to meet your changing needs, the investment in your home will likely appreciate over time.

So, while it’s great to find a home that’s perfect for you and your family, it’s even better to find one that’s a smart investment. One where you can enjoy life, put in some sweat equity over time and then be able to comfortably sell it.

For now you have the unprecedented opportunity to take advantage of the combined benefits of low interest rates, affordable prices and a great selection which can immediately add value to a home purchase. As you shop for a home in this attractive market, consider the characteristics that not only make a home appealing to live in now, but also some of the things that can increase equity. That way you’ll be better prepared for whatever the future brings.

First off, start with good structure.

Since major structural issues are some of the biggest ticket items to fix, they immediately diminish value. Carefully evaluate large cracks on the exterior of a home as well as the basement walls. Likewise, you’ll want to investigate any visible mold or water damage, which can also be signs of larger issues from the foundation to the roof.

Next, review key systems.

Electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems are the lifeblood of any home so replacement is always costly. Keep the status of these systems in mind when you are looking at your budget. Essential upgrades will add value and improve quality of life.

You’ll also want to check the condition of the roof, windows and insulation. While routine repair and replacement are certainly a necessary part of homeownership, these particular projects are often put off until the last possible moment. Be on the look out for when each of these will require attention down the road.

Now focus on the interior living spaces.

From the overall layout to the general aesthetics, keep in mind that some projects add value while others may not be as cost-effective. Trying to convert several small rooms into one open living area may be appealing, but major changes to any floor plan will require a major outlay of cash. Other projects like refinishing hardwood floors, adding fresh paint, replacing light fixtures and hardware, updating the kitchen, refreshing bathrooms and even finishing the basement can be funded more easily and may actually give you a bigger bang for your buck.

Give curb appeal careful consideration.

While every seller knows the value of sprucing up the exterior when it comes to getting people excited about what’s inside, some homeowners just don’t put that extra effort into curb appeal. Depending on the extent of the projects at hand, a little sweat equity can go a long way toward adding value, from landscaping updates to general clean up.

Finally, evaluate several location factors.

While proximity to all the important people and places in your life is key, the appeal of a neighborhood, from the neighbors to the ease of access, flow of traffic, different sounds and overall upkeep are also important factors. Be sure and drive around during the week and on weekends at different times of the day and night to get a feel for what it will be like if you choose to move there.

It all comes down to identifying the characteristics that matter most to you. When you carefully weigh all your options based on what fits your lifestyle now and in the foreseeable future, it’s a great time to plant some roots in northwest Indiana.

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