I try to help my buyers have an understanding of “the best house to buy.” My suggestions do not fit every buyer’s needs and other Realtors may see things differently. But I am an economist and I look for value.
What should your new home do? It certainly should be a comfortable and exciting place to come home to. Of primary importance. But it should not cost you a lot of extra cash out of you pocket over the years that you own it. Here is my take . . . It is better to buy an upgraded house rather than one that you have to upgrade. In the upgraded house you can see and touch what you are going to live with. Second, you are purchasing the upgrades at at a highly discounted price, maybe 60% or even 30% of their cost. An upgraded house does not sell for much more than one that has not been upgraded in the Northern Virginia area (This may not be true in other areas of the country). Third, and very important, all those already done upgrades, say at 30% of their cost) are in the mortgage and are at a very low interest rate. If you buy the house and do the upgrades yourself you are not only taking on a large project with unknown complexities but you are paying the full price, 100%, with cash out of your savings. Much better to put the upgrades in the mortgage increasing your monthly payments $100 or $200 and take the other cash and invest it independently in another manner.
Appliances are not expensive and are plug-and-play. Those are not a big deal and can go either way. Upgrading bathrooms and kitchens are major expenses and I would look for those to already to have been done.
Now here is the second value item. How much is this new house going to cost you in maintenance over the next 10 years? There are some costs and they legitimately belong to you. However, big items like a new roof, new HVAC system, windows, rotten wood, etc. are big items. Look at these items carefully concerning the house that you are about to buy. A new roof you were not planning on and no vacation next year is not a good tradeoff. Make sure to do a good home inspection with a good home inspector who has personally built houses in the past. A handyman home inspector is not a good idea. You do not want supprises. You want to know what this new home is going to cost you in the future.
This subject is obviously more complex than dealt with above. There are other issues as well. Give me a call or send me an email and I will be happy to answer your specific questions.