Saleability in a Down Market

We are all very aware of the current mortgage crisis and downturn in the housing markets. I’ve been asked on many occasions and had a number of discussions with people about the future of the housing markets. Questions such as, “How do I protect my investment?” “Is now the right time to build or buy?” Or, “what size of home, and at what price range should I be looking for?

All valid questions and concerns. I don’t know the future, but we can certainly learn from the past in a large degree.  Markets have traditionally gone up and down, with the general trend in most areas to rise over time.  For most of us, a home will be the largest and most important financial decision we can make in our lifetime, so this decision needs to be taken seriously.

I believe if we were to look at the history of real estate prices, the homes that held their value the best, were the “desirable” homes in the most “desirable” neighborhoods. If that is true, then what is a “desirable” home and neighborhood? Do you know of any neighborhoods in your city or town that falls into this category? (please tell us about it in this blog).

Everyone will feel different about this, but for me, the “desirable” homes are the ones that have lots and lots of character, in a way they are unique.  They have something that sets them apart. The “desirables” generally follow eye-pleasing proportional guidelines and balance, even if there are a few whimsical elements thrown in to unbalance a certain aspect or two.

For me, it’s generally the older neighborhoods and homes, or the new ones that haven’t “cut too many corners“.  For me, it’s the neighborhoods with the mature tree-lined streets, where no two houses look exactly the same.  I believe it’s really in the details and craftsmanship, and certainly the overall curb appeal that really counts. In Europe, the well preserved 200 year old country cottage with it’s complimentary cottage garden, will always be in demand.

Now I realize the costs to construct a home these days are substantial, but I do believe that a few key elements, details, and features should not be left off simply for the sake of saving a few dollars, because some are well worth the expense. The decision to pick and choose rests on each individual person as to what stays and what can go or be substituted. And please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not advocating spending more than your budget, all I’m trying to say is be a little creative in your choice as well as in your budget, because the best way to preserve you investment is to create something “desirable” enough for someone else to pay you for it.

I’ll admit, I’ve seen some homes that didn’t look a bit like the original design, an original design that was so appealing to begin with. Too many corners were cut because of their expense (or lack of time spent shopping around for a deal)–the roof pitches lowered, windows simplified, special details removed, and exterior materials substituted. In the end, it didn’t look at all like it was intended.  Once again, I am not admonishing you to go out and spend a small fortune, but what I am saying to anyone reading this, is to pay attention to the details, because in the end they may make all the difference between your house being easily salable and one that is not, especially in a down market.

I have always believed that in a down market, the cutest and most charming homes will nearly always sell first and for the most money (as long as they are not substantially more expensive).  I also believe that buying or building a home like this in the right area is one of the best ways to preserve your hard earned money.

I love all styles of architecture.  Each has their certain appeal, whether Tuscan or Tudor, whether Craftsman or Cottage, they can all be a great investment if they are built and placed right.

There are many things yet to be said about this, so I’ll continue this in another article and in response to anyone’s comments.  I’ll address the size of a home in another article.
Not everyone will feel the same way I do, and I respect that.  Please post your comments and share your insights if you have something you would like to add.

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