The most valuable American home

is flawless

After months of searching for a home in a million dollar city, I have understood what it takes to have the most desirable American home. Other than location, these are a few considerations:

  • Square footage
  • Land
  • Structure
  • Modernization of interior
  • Views

Square Footage

I always thought a bigger home would cost more. If you are comparing two homes in the same blue chip neighborhood, the answer tends to be yes.

However, if you look at square footage alone, a bigger home can cost significantly less if it has certain flaws. Let's get into them:

Land

If a bigger property is located on a lot that has very little outdoor space, that is a significant flaw. Even in the center of metropolitan areas, Americans crave land in the form of a front or back yard which creates some distance between the street and neighbors.

Practically speaking, it boils down to lot size.

For example, if you are looking at an ultra modern sky-rise property, you might think the home is expensive and even amazing. But is it valuable? Is it something that the market determines to be worth its price? 

If the square footage is let's say, 2000 square feet, and the lot size is 2,300 square feet, then the answer is no.

That's because all of the space in this type of home is built vertically, and likely in a more urban area. While that may be practical, properties that have less square footage and larger lot size can outcompete this kind of home even in an urban environment. People love their land!

There are theories on why land lies deep in the American psyche. People have an automatic checkbox mentality on this stuff. Does the home have a yard, especially a backyard? Is there grass? If these are not present, the panic ensues. Where will the dog run? Where will the kids play? Where will we relax?!?

Once the lot size is acceptable, people then take a look at the overall home and structure.

Structure

I couldn't believe that a modern beautifully built structure could be less valuable than a hundred year old home that has shingles and is falling apart. Enter a west coast favorite: the craftsman.

This type of home has a lot of history. I'll let you read about it here. In short, the market finds this type of home more valuable because of its historical context. Similarly, structures built in the 1960s are also valuable: 

This kind of home is in vogue, especially with millennials. What's more valuable than a modern home built today? A mid century modern.

Modernization of interior

Because homes with historical context are desirable, the other issue to work through is the design failures and internal damage that has occurred over time. The home probably needs a new roof, stabilization of beams and posts, an entirely new kitchen and replacement of windows that are likely out of city code.

While people will accept an older home and the look of it from the outside, they will not tolerate an old look from the inside. High end interior finishes, farmhouse sink, fancy gas stoves, updated and retiled bathrooms, and central heating/cooling are all expectations people have in modern living. When an older home has the original detailing, you would think people would value that more, since it is almost historical artifact.

But alas, I find myself being both hypocritical and comfort seeking. People like modern finishes as much as they like land!

Views

Views always go for a premium. Even though you might be living by the ocean, and you could theoretically go there anytime, the actual act of seeing it through your window can increase the price of the home anywhere from 30-75%.

This is another puzzling thing in real estate. All views grow old over time. So I'm not sure what the emotional drive is, but it could be related to our obsession with beauty. Or it could be related to ancestry, safety, or a number of things that support the obsession with home ownership in the first place. Views can be mountains, lake, ocean, parts of the city, and even an expanse of sky. The variation of land outside can also be a view.

Flawless

The most valuable American home is a home with a decent lot size (not necessarily square footage), enough land to give you a front and backyard, a historical structure, with an updated modern interior, and boasts views. These variables give you a flawless home. The kind of home where you have multiple offers from sellers in the first few hours.

A different take?

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