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How to avoid overpaying for a home in a changing market

In addition to a thorough review of market data from week to week (see this week’s report below), here are four attributes four attributes that you should have your eye on.

Home (building) quality: Very well-built homes are a rare find and typically worth every penny of their price. Don’t confuse them with so-so homes that just measure up to the city inspector’s threshold. Lesser quality homes will cost you more in upkeep and replacement as systems and components wear out. If you purchase a lesser quality home for less, the differential might just cover the added maintenance expense. But, if you purchase a fair quality home at the going rate of higher quality homes, you might likely be overpaying.

Deferred maintenance: Different than home quality, deferred maintenance includes the to-do list of items that need to be done to maintain a home’s integrity. A home that has been well maintained over its life typically is a better investment than one that hasn’t. The true cost of deferred maintenance often adds up to more than the cost of the repairs themselves. Don’t forget to factor in the reduced life span of other components—like replacement of damaged wood beneath peeling paint or mold remediation in a damp basement caused by a clogged foundation drain.

Setting: The saying “location, location, location” didn’t get its fame from out of nowhere. A home with an ideal setting on its lot and in the neighborhood—away from busy roads and utility poles/boxes, with adequate privacy, good topography, best positioned to capture views if available, and not adjacent to undesirable elements (poorly maintained homes, water towers or other unsightly public structures, high traffic facilities, etc.) will have more value than a less-ideally sited home. When deciding what to pay for a property it is critical that you evaluate these aspects and any others relevant to a specific neighborhood to determine the +/- effect on value.

Floor plan: How a home lives—flow from room to room, size of rooms, open/closed-off spaces, and below ground vs. above ground living are every bit as important as the total home square footage. You can change a lot of things about a home, but it is very difficult to change a bad floor plan. When you are deciding how high to make that multiple offer bid, consider factoring in the added value or take-away of the floor plan.

Sept 24 Seattle Area Real Estate Market Report

View the full September 24th Seattle-Eastside residential market report



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