The home-buying process can be emotional. It’s easy to go into the matter with a small set of needs and desires but end up with an extensive list of “must-haves.”
The more houses you see near the upper end of your budget, the more likely you will be attracted to particular features from each. This can create an unrealistic image of what your next house will end up being.
Without the discipline to say no, or at least maybe not, you could stick yourself with a massive mortgage payment that renders you house-poor for the next two or three decades of your life. Fortunately, you can avoid this kind of predicament.
The key is to identify precisely what you need before you start the search process, and to stick to your guns once your agent starts to show you various houses. Even more important, you need to understand which features are not worth having to pay a premium.
If you can manage this much, you won’t have to worry about getting ripped off or stuck with a decades-long financial burden. So let’s dive right in: Here are the seven home features for which real estate experts say you should never pay a premium.
Excessive Square Footage
Throughout most of history, people have grasped the value of modest housing. To put it simply, more housing space means more time, work, and money to maintain.
Then came the American 20th century, when bigger became utterly shackled to better. McMansions became a status symbol, and more house meant more success.
Although in recent decades we’ve started to reverse this notion — the tiny house and minimalist movements are great examples — some people continue to follow that wasteful tradition. The fastest way to waste money on a house is to buy more square footage than you need.
The median list price per square foot in the U.S. is currently $156. That means an extra 500 square feet will entail a premium of roughly $78,000. (In hot markets, the cost could be five or six times that much!)
A Massive Yard
Everyone wants to talk about curb appeal during a house purchase, but beware of purchasing a house that has a massive yard and extensive landscaping. This is a feature you’re not only going to pay a premium for up front, but steadily thereafter, through the lifetime of ownership.
A green lawn is great, but it demands frequent cutting, fertilizing, weeding, watering, and aerating. You’ll either have to do this yourself — which will be a huge time-suck — or you’ll have to pay for regular landscaping … and the latter will cost you thousands in the coming years.
A Swimming Pool
Some people put a swimming pool at the top of their want list. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but you shouldn’t be too quick to pay the premium for a backyard lagoon.
Swimming pools are expensive. In addition to regular cleaning and maintenance, you have to deal with other substantial upkeep from time to time. Whether you suffer a leak or faulty pool pump, or have to erect fencing to satisfy HOA codes, it’s a guarantee that you’ll be forking over further funds year after year.
A Short Commute You Won’t Use
Location is one of the prime determining factors in the cost of real estate. If you want to live close to everything your community has to offer, you’ll pay a stiff premium.
Sometimes this can be worth it, but other times it’s not. Be wary of accepting a specific location on the sole basis of your work commute.
Is it really worth paying a 20 percent premium, for example, just to be 20 minutes closer to work? How often do you work out of the office? Could you work from home? Think through the answers to these questions before signing on the dotted line.
Neighborhood Amenities You Won’t Use
Amenities are great, but don’t assume they’re free. You’ll be paying for those swimming pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, and playgrounds in the form of a monthly HOA fee.
The crucial question is, will you actually use them? If you have young children and enjoy socializing with your neighbors, perhaps you will enjoy these amenities … in which case, this is a premium worth splurging on.
But if you travel a lot, don’t have kids, and prefer to keep to yourself, your money could be better spent in a neighborhood that doesn’t include an expensive HOA.
A School District You Don’t Need
A highly rated school district will substantially increase the price of real estate in the general area. If you have kids and the quality of education is vital to you, then by all means feel free to pay that premium.
However, if you don’t have children, or you plan to send them to a private school, you shouldn’t settle for paying extra just to live in a respected district. You’re free to live wherever you please!
When you purchase someone else’s home, you’re essentially paying for all the upgrades they’ve done over the years. In most cases, this isn’t a problem: If the previous owner recently upgraded the kitchen, you’d expect to pay extra for the new appliances and countertops.
However, you don’t want to get stuck in a situation where you’re paying a premium for specialty or custom upgrades you don’t care about. This might include such items as home theaters, wine cellars, solar panels, or a massive, built-in fish tank.
Buy and Sell With Green Residential
Buying and selling real estate is a complicated task that, at times, may conjure feelings of stress, anxiety, and confusion. Though some friction and stress are probably unavoidable in real estate transactions, you shouldn’t have to feel as if you’re constantly on the verge of getting ripped off.
At Green Residential, we make it our mission to simplify the home purchase and sale process by providing our clients with honest, transparent, and expert advice that cuts through the noise and ensures a simple and straightforward experience for all parties involved. If you’re interested in learning more, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!