5 Factors That Influence Your Home’s Resale Value

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While home sellers hope to get top dollar for their property – and some have an inflated idea of what to expect – establishing a home’s value can be a complex, multifaceted process. Do home renovations really pay off? And which is more valuable: a three-bedroom or a four-bedroom with the same square footage? We talked to real estate insiders to find out.

1. Location. The classic real estate refrain says, “location, location, location.” Location includes factors such as the price of recent nearby transactions, the quality of local schools and whether the area has a strong sense of community. “Buyers increasingly value community in the community where they’re buying,” says Amy Anderson, an agent with Davidson Realty, Inc. in St. Augustine, Florida. “They come to me not looking for a house for four years, but focusing much more on the community, the activities and the school district.”

As Americans scale back their dependence on automobiles, some homebuyers seek out communities that don’t require cars to get around. One resource is WalkScore.com, which rates neighborhoods throughout the U.S. based on access to public transit and proximity to grocery stores, parks and more.” I think walkability has become more important in many markets, especially amongst millennials,” says Ken Wilson, president of the Appraisal Institute, a professional association for real estate appraisers, and founder of Wilson Realty Advisors in Dallas. “You’re also finding empty nesters that are looking into properties that have walkability.”

But as Zillow.com chief economist Stan Humphries points out, location encompasses many other considerations. “Does it have a view? Is it a waterfront home?” he asks. “What’s it next to? Is it near retail establishments? Or a highway?”

2. Size and layout. While homebuyers used to swoon over ample square footage, many have fallen out of love with the McMansion. “I think people realize when they buy a 3,300-square-foot house, they’re not getting what they thought they were,” Anderson says. “There’s more upkeep and a lot more involved with taking care of these huge houses.”

Layout is a key factor because an open-concept design can look much more spacious than a boxy space of the same size. The number of bedrooms also influences a home’s value, so think twice before putting up a wall and subdividing one room into two. “Adding a bedroom will take away value,” Humphries says. “Fewer but larger bedrooms tend to boost value.”

3. Age and condition. Historic homes (assuming they’re livable and well-maintained) and new homes are typically more valuable than homes built somewhere in the middle. “Generally, as a home gets older, it becomes less valuable,” Humphries says. “Then there’s a U-shape where, at some point, homes become so old that they have historical significance. A home that’s built in 1910 is probably more valuable than one built in 1970.”

Age aside, condition matters too. “Someone will pay $15,000 more for a well-kept house that’s move-in ready than they will for a house that needs $5,000 worth of work,” Anderson says.

4. Upgrades. Renovations play into a home’s value, but if your home is considered “over improved” compared with other properties in the neighborhood, it can actually hurt the property’s value. “You want it to be common for the neighborhood or subdivision,” Wilson says. “It wouldn’t hurt to visit neighbors’ homes or visit a home via an open house to see what people are marketing [before undertaking big improvements].” You could also hire an appraiser to prepare a feasibility analysis that will help you determine the impact of renovations on your home’s value.

Unless you live in an area where granite countertops and built-in wine fridges are the norm, Humphries says you might be better off saving the money and choosing more basic finishes. “It’s harder to recoup [your investment] if you guild the lily, if you will, on granite this and chrome that in your kitchen,” he says. “You’re spending a lot of money on something that might have a lot of personal taste attached to it.”

However, you should keep records of repairs and upgrades to show potential buyers that the home has been well-maintained.

5. Negative events. If your property has issues like mold or experienced a fire or was the site of a violent crime, it could be a harder sell – and command a lower price. “Nowadays, people are very concerned if there was a fire, prior mold damage or even if there were some sort of death or crime at the property,” Wilson says. Federal law requires the disclosure of all known lead-based paints, but state laws vary in whether the seller must disclose issues related to natural disasters or crimes committed on the property.

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Why You Should Store Your Jeans in the Freezer

BY VICTORIA DAWSON HOFF AND LAUREN LEVINSON

We’re all too aware of the perils of washing a great pair of jeans. Even with the typical tricks (turning the jeans inside out; laying them flat to dry), there’s no guarantee that the laundry cycle won’t transform your flawless dark skinnies into faded, spray-on jeggings. Considering the trials and tribulations usually involved in finding said perfect pair, gambling your hard-earned money with the press of the “start cycle” button seems a bit unfair. And the alternative—letting them go unwashed until they’re so “loved” that they basically stand up on their own—might not fly in civilized society.
“There has to be a better way!” we told ourselves (in our best infomercial voice), and, thankfully, the denim experts at Levi’s promptly heeded our call. Not only did VP of Women’s Design Jill Guenza have a quirky, genius, wash-free tip for our dirty denim problem, she did us one better and told us how to hack that freaking laundry cycle once and for all. Read on and see: There really is hope for your beloved pair.

Why does denim start to smell?
It’s funny: I was just on the internet to do some cursory research before this interview, and according to the Smithsonian page, it is because there is bacteria that sloughs off of our skin as we wear the jeans. The bacteria transfers with the sloughed-off skin cells onto the denim and apparently the bacteria is what is causing the odor. A lot of the reason why people don’t wash denim is because the beauty of indigo is that it wears down—the blue pigment from the indigo chips off and creates almost like a living document of your life in your body as you move through your days. You can create these really personal wear patterns if you wear your jeans from [when they are] rigid, which is what we call the raw state of denim. So as you are wearing the jeans, the skin cells transfer from your body to the jeans and that can cause odors.
I have tried this myself: I regularly freeze my jeans, and I know that according to some scientists, when you freeze your jeans it might kill a lot of the bacteria—certainly not 100 percent of them, but a good portion of them—and then when you pull them out of the freezer they don’t smell anymore. But you have to let them warm up a bit otherwise they are really cold! As you wear them again, the bacteria can begin to grow again, but you can continue to freeze them; I would say once a month is sufficient to keep them from really smelling.
Why does the freezer get rid of the odor?
The lower temperature kills the bacteria. But it is not 100 percent. The only way to truly do that is either to wash your jeans or to sterilize them at a really high temperature, but that defeats the purpose of really sustainably cleaning your jeans—because your freezer is running anyway, so it is a good trick to save energy! But also, washing your jeans washes off a lot of the indigo too and you lose a lot of the rich look you get when you don’t wash your jeans.
What kind of bag should you use?
I just throw them in the freezer!
Levi’s come in canvas bags. Would the bag itself do anything, or should we just put them right in?
I’ve never personally tried the canvas bag, but I think that is a way to protect your jeans from whatever else is in your freezer while still allowing oxygen. It allows the bag to breathe and get to your jeans so your jeans can breathe, as opposed to putting them in a Ziploc plastic bag. I think you want to let them air out.
How long should you leave them in the freezer for?
Overnight is fine.
Another issue with washing jeans is that they stretch out. Does the freezer have any shrinking abilities?
The freezer won’t shrink your jeans; it won’t bring your jeans back into shape. A trick for that is to turn them inside out and throw them in the dryer without washing them. If you are wearing stretched jeans, that will kind of bring them back into shape.
How long should you throw them into the dryer for, and on what heat?
Again, the idea is to reduce the amount of energy you are using. I would say if you are drying another load of laundry, you can toss them in for the last 20 minutes of the cycle at regular heat.
Any other jean washing or care tips?
I am a huge proponent of the no wash, stick in the freezer, and put in the dryer to retain the shape. But one other trick that I’ve picked up along the way is if you are wearing your jeans in from rigid, you can give them this really beautiful sheen if you put baby oil on your legs first before putting on your jeans, because the baby oil, wear after wear, will transfer from your skin, and a certain amount of it will be absorbed by the denim, and it creates this beautiful sheen.

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