When you’re shopping for a new home, it’s natural to favor the more aesthetically-pleasing properties. However, cosmetic features are often decorative and trendy extras. Instead, you should base your decision on the underlying features and value of the home. This includes elements like the plumbing, wiring and roof of any potential home.
“As a home buyer, it is important that you focus on value over the bells and whistles that can distract from a home’s drawback,” advises Evan Roberts, a real estate agent with
You shouldn’t increase your offer based on bells and whistles. While you may like them, that doesn’t mean the next homebuyer will. “Paying for low value features will make re-selling difficult,” according to Lucas Machado, president of Florida-based
While you may have a list of “must-haves” for your new home, it’s important to be flexible, and consider the big picture. “It’s easy to get caught up in the smaller details,” warns J.B. Sassano, president of
Speaking of faucets, let’s start with sinks and plumbing fixtures. For example, a farmhouse (or apron-front) sink may set your heart aflutter. But are you really going to base the decision on whether to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home on a sink that costs hundreds of dollars?
Another “must have” item for some is either a pull-down or touchless faucet. However, John Blackman, a realtor at Keller Williams/
If you’re looking at a kitchen or bathroom with outdated hardware, don’t let these cosmetic features be a deciding factor. “Updating your bathrooms and kitchens with new hardware, like door handles, switch plate covers, vent covers, cabinet knobs and pulls, towel racks and wall hooks, only require a traditional screwdriver, and the effects can really refresh a space,” says Sassano.
Crystal chandeliers are all the rage right now, followed by pendant lights. But while they’re fancy, you can choose from a dizzying array of these and other types of lights for just $100 to $200. So take the time you would spend admiring the light fixture to examine the electrical wiring behind it.
Crown molding, chair railing, and other types of millwork add architectural detail to a home, but they shouldn’t add to the price you’re willing to pay for the home. At the time of publication, one home improvement store was advertising 3 feet of crown molding for $13.97. You can even use paint to make one-piece molding look like three-piece molding. This is one example of how some cosmetic features may not be what they appear.
Here’s another example: “A lot of builders will use MDF, or medium density fiberboard, but that material doesn’t last very long,” according to Seth Argo, president of Nashville-based luxury custom home developer
“Fancy garage doors look great and add a sense of luxury, but don’t cost much,” notes Blackman. In fact, he says it’s the #1 value add component for increasing the sales price, whether it’s wood or painted to look like real wood. That’s great news for sellers, and it’s need-to-know information for buyers.
Custom kitchen cabinets
Custom kitchen cabinets in the home you’re considering may not even be custom kitchen cabinets. “You might think you’re getting custom cabinetry, but they’re really factory cabinets,” warns Argo. He says it’s standard for the majority of builders to use factory cabinets. “Some of these cabinets might look nice from a distance, but they’re actually mass-produced for cheap and then sold locally as custom cabinets.” He recommends feeling the material of the cabinet and hardware to tell the difference.
But, suppose the house has old, outdated cabinets? Sassano says that replacing them can be costly. “As long as the cabinets are in good shape, new doors,
If the house is
“In fact, fresh paint on basement floors and walls could be masking issues below the surface,” according to Lance Marrs, principal broker at
There are two reasons why you shouldn’t be swayed by the staging. “The staging will be gone at move-in, unless the offer is to include all the furniture and other items, which is sometimes possible, to be sure,” says Michael Hausam of
He also adds that a perfectly staged home is almost impossible to evaluate objectively. Remember that you’re seeing the home at its absolute best.
What you should look for in a home
So, what factors should you consider when buying a home? “Major items such as the roof,
Hausman recommends evaluating and rating the home in terms of its benefits rather than cosmetic features. “Focusing on questions like ‘Can I picture myself entertaining my friends in this kitchen/backyard/living room?’ or ‘Is this home a relative bargain?’ can help you look past a particularly appealing staging job to determine if the house is really for you.” Just remember to focus on the the home itself and not the easy-to-replace cosmetic features to make sure you find the right home.