Among the five important factors to look for when buying a used home are the three Ls. These include not only location, location, location – although location is still the number one point to consider. The other L’s stand for layout and levels, because in addition to location these are things that cannot be changed or only with great difficulty. Two other things to consider when shopping for used homes are age and condition. These two may seem to go hand in hand at first, but age of a home can not be changed while the condition is flexible.
The location is the most important factor to consider when buying a home. Things in a neighborhood that increase the value of property include access to transportation, amenities, and quality of schools. The latter is important, even if you do not have children, because a good school system increases property values.
The layout of a used home is very important because what you see is what you get. While you can modify the layout somewhat after you move in by taking down walls, this takes time and expense. Also, consider the layout of the bedrooms. If you have small children, you may prefer bedrooms on the same level. If they are older, you may want the privacy of having the master bedroom in another part of your home, or even on another level.
To suit your lifestyle, it is important to consider how many levels the home has. Yes, you could always add a level provided the space is there, but this is very expensive and time consuming. One-level living can be important if you have health challenges or if you want to stay in your used home for a long time.
While you certainly should not discount buying a home that is really old, you will have to consider that the older the home, the more problems it could have that you, or even a professional home inspector, can’t see. This is especially true for plumbing and electrical work. If you plan on making improvements on an older home, you will never know what might lurk inside. Make sure you can commit to making your improvements to an older home – time and budget wise.
Condition in this context means what you can see as you view the home. Examples include roof, siding, walls, landscaping or lack of, floors, windows, etc. You certainly should not disregard a used home because it is in bad condition, because it will give you more negotiating power. Just make sure you set aside enough money in your budget for the improvements.
If you think the first three factors are equally important when shopping for a new home as well as a used home, you are correct. However, they are at the top of the list because used home buyers are often distracted by minor factors such as walls and fixtures that are not neutral or too taste-specific, as well as outdated appliances. If you can see beyond these cosmetic issues and prioritize the important factors, you will end up with a nice home and investment.