There’s more to buying a house than just a low price

Here in Ocala we have the lowest median home prices in Florida. We have foreclosures, estate sales and even great prices on traditional sales. I mostly work with buyers and I’ve seen 100’s of such homes.  I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a big mistake to concentrate on just the price. Buyers don’t think enough about condition.

I think the big 4 are the age of the roof, the AC heat pump unit,  the flooring and the kitchen appliances. When looking at newer foreclosures I’d add landscaping to this list.

The roof. Standard shingles here last about 15 years. Some insurance companies won’t insure a house with a standard shingle roof over 15 years old. Architectural shingles are good for 20 years or so.  The heat of our summers give a roof a real beating.

The AC unit, which in most cases is a heat pump, is harder to judge. An AC guy told me that they can break in 5 years and I’ve seen them 20 years old.

Flooring is really taken for granted. To carpet an entire house, as can be the case in an estate sale or even a newer foreclosure, can cost as much as a roof. For some reason buyers who would walk away from a house with a bad roof will have no problem replacing flooring. Flooring prices vary a lot from builder quality carpet to tile and wood floors.

Kitchen appliances can be 20 years old in an estate sale and missing altogether in many foreclosures. Here again there is a big difference in price between builder quality and top of the line. I do think appliances are at the bottom of the list price wise though.

Landscaping is often totally absent in foreclosures. No shrubs or trees, dead sod in the front of the home and a back yard that never had grass in the first place because builders here for some reason give an amount of sod that won’t cover the whole yard. You don’t over seed a bad lawn here. You rip out the old sod and lay down new sod.  Mature trees and shrubs won’t add anything to an appraisal. However I owned a landscape company and I can tell you an extensive landscape job on the house in an empty field can cost as much as all the four items above combined! Curb appeal is what makes a house a home.

Am I trying to sell more expensive houses? No I just believe too many people are “Penny wise and pound foolish”. I’ve walked out of what at first appeared to be low priced homes and said to my buyers that they couldn’t buy that house cheap enough to make up for all the work it needed.

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