The home you live in is likely your biggest investment. Its value can fluctuate with time and changing market conditions. We don’t truly know how much our House is worth until we try to sell it. Our sales agent can give us a general idea or range, but until someone makes an offer, our home’s value is just an educated guess.
When we attempt to sell our house, we do our best to make it look its best. We clean and declutter our home. We strive for curb appeal so our house looks fabulous to passersby. However, there are some factors that will lower our home’s value. Some are more noticeable than others. When trying to sell your home, make sure you pay attention to these issues that may lower your home’s value.
If you know anything about real estate sales, you have heard the expression “location, location, location.” Simply put, it means where your house is located will be the main factor in its value.
You could get a pretty penny for a rundown shack on an acre of property in New York City or a modest amount for a mansion in rural Georgia. Being close to shopping districts, schools and public transportation can be factors that increase value. Being near a garbage dump, power lines or a sewer treatment plant will decrease your home’s value.
You can’t do anything about your home’s location once you already own it, and you can’t control whether local governments want to build an industrial site or freeway near your neighborhood. Just be aware of the plusses and minuses of your location and try to make your house the best one in the area.
2. Age and Upkeep
A new home is more valuable than an older home. A historic home might be more valuable than a 20-year-old home. No matter what you have, make sure the roof is in good condition and that there aren’t any major repairs needed in the future.
People would rather pay a higher price for a move-in ready home, then spend time and money on updates and repairs. A home inspector can give you an idea of how structurally sound your house is.
Mold can invade your home in many places. It can form in the attic, in walls, under the sink or even in air vents. Some might not notice it at all, while others will suffer serious adverse reactions, especially if they have allergies or asthma.
A simple way to check for mold is to go into your basement or other suspected area and smell for it. Mold gives off a musky, unpleasant odor. Look for signs of it on walls, near pipes and in attic spaces. Mold is usually black and shows up in spots on walls and under carpeting.
If you see it, get rid of it, especially before your home is inspected, because the presence of mold will be included in their findings. A bleach and water solution will kill mold, but be careful about using bleach in enclosed spaces, as it can cause breathing difficulties. Vinegar is a safer solution and is also effective against mold.
4. Slovenly Neighbors
Most of us understand how important it is to maintain our property. We cut our grass, rake our leaves and keep our yards free from trash and debris. However, you may have neighbors who don’t share these values or who are unable to keep up with the demands of their homes for one reason or another.
Cars or couches in the front yard can be an eyesore and a good reason for potential buyers to look in a different neighborhood. It would be in your best interest to approach your neighbors about such matters in order to maintain the value of your home.
Be friendly, be diplomatic. Offer to help them clean up their yard while you are trying to sell your home. Some people will be unfriendly and difficult, while others may welcome your help or simply not have realized how bad their yards looked.
Many people dream of having a swimming pool. They are a refreshing relief in the summer and provide social opportunities for your friends and family. However, pools require expensive maintenance and upkeep that many buyers don’t want to take on.
Other than families with kids at a certain age, most buyers would see a pool as a burden and a negative selling point. If you have a pool, make sure it looks its best. Offer to pay for a year of maintenance as an incentive for hesitant buyers.
6. Offensive Colors
You might like the color purple, but if you choose that color for your house, you might have a harder time selling it. The same goes for the inside of your home. By all means, enjoy whatever striking colors you fancy when you live in your home, but when it comes time to sell, you may need to make some changes.
When selling your home, you want to appeal to as many people as possible. This requires you to choose neutral colors — shades of white and earth tones — to decorate your house. The exterior of your home should be greige — a range of gray and beige — which fits well into any neighborhood. Tone things down to get a higher price.
7. Poor School District
You can live in a desirable location, but if your public schools are underperforming or known to be corrupt, this will affect the value of your home. For potential buyers without children, this may not be a factor, but most families have kids who need to go to school or babies who will be going years from now.
If they have to consider private school, this will affect their budget and their decision on where they will live. All you can do in this case is support your public schools in millage renewals and help out if at all possible to make them better.
No one has a perfect home. All houses require maintenance and upkeep and occasional repairs. A house in a desirable neighborhood may become one in an undesirable neighborhood over time, even though it stays right where it is.
There are factors that lower the value of our home that we have little or no control over. The only thing we can do is present our house at its best in spite of its location, age or condition. A fresh coat of paint and some added curb appeal will bring more people to look at your home and hopefully realize your asking price.
Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington