Ingredients of a Great Real Estate Investment

Boost your odds for a successful resale down the road with these four essentials

Whether you’re shopping for an investment property, buying a starter home or relocating for your job yet again, your next home likely won’t be your last. That’s why it pays to go house hunting with your successors in mind. After all, buyers are a demanding bunch, and simple renovations won’t always satisfy their stringent criteria. Luckily, you can tip the resale scales in your favor by planning wisely and purchasing a property with these in-demand amenities.

#1: The Hottest Feature
An overwhelming majority of buyers want a cool house, but that doesn’t mean you need to scour the listings for basement theaters or zoned audio systems. Take this request literally -- central air conditioning is the most sought-after feature, with nearly three-quarters of buyers ranking it “very important” in a National Association of Realtors survey. And in the sweltering South, that number jumps to 91 percent. Central air is a pricey add-on, especially in a home without a forced-air heating system, so you may want to favor a house that already beats the heat.

#2: Essential Storage
While curb appeal and designer decor can attract potential buyers, what they can’t see is just as important -- like, say, an Imelda Marcos-worthy shoe collection or a rusty project car. Call them packrats if you will, but buyers are serious about storage space. Fifty-seven percent say a garage with two or more bays is key, and 53 percent want a walk-in closet in the master bedroom.

#3: Modern Musts
Your next house can be any hue, as long as it’s green on the inside. The eco-friendly trend gets high marks from 46 percent of buyers, so try to find a property with energy-efficient features like newer windows, Energy Star appliances and a well-maintained HVAC system. And a growing number of buyers want to stay wired at home -- nearly half say cable and satellite connections are important, while 40 percent want access to high-speed Internet.

#4: Exterior Excellence
When you’re shopping for a house, what’s on the outside definitely counts. Half of all buyers say a backyard is important, and 36 percent would like a fence for their pups (and their privacy). And you know the real estate cliche about location, location, location? Make it your house-hunting mantra. “Location, you can’t change. Everything else, you can,” says Pat Vredevoogd Combs, the immediate past president of the National Association of Realtors. Research the local school district before you invest -- even if you don’t have kids, the next owner might. And steer clear of high-power lines, highways and airports, which can raise red flags for buyers.

Most importantly, remember that trends can vary widely between states. A two-bedroom may seem teeny in Texas but downright luxurious in Malibu, and an adobe house might have slightly more appeal in Santa Fe than in northern Michigan. “Talk to your Realtor and find out what things are most important in your marketplace,” Vredevoogd says. “And always keep resale in mind.” You may not be able to check off every item on a prospective buyer’s wish list, but the right features can lay the groundwork for a solid investment.


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