By Penny Christensen & Larry Jobe
Yosemite Area Real Estate – Paul S. Bunt Real Estate
Real estate is a business of educated guessing, understanding people, trends and economic influences.
Everything we know about real estate for certain is history, which we try to project onto the future. Educated guessing during normal times is fairly accurate as we have a deep well of historical information to draw upon. During unsettled and uncertain times, such as we have experienced since COVID 19 ravaged the world, our educated guesses are still important but come with much less certainty and accuracy.
Let’s first explore those things which don’t seem to be affected by outside influences. Basic likes and dislikes relate to every property. Some we can control, some we cannot. Of those we can’t control, a price reduction is often the only option available to us.
In our area of undulating land access to the property (driveway), home location and number of levels is pretty much dictated by the slope of the land.
Positives would be views (especially of the lake or high country), single level homes with few or no stairs to climb to enter the property, mature trees, elbow room, off-street parking for RVs or boats, age of property (new sells), quiet street (no through traffic), level lot and driveway, location to amenities and town.
Negatives would be steep driveways, easement driveways, home close to road (potential noise), lack of privacy from neighbors, busy streets, unusable property and multiple levels in the home. We actually viewed a home where every room was on a different level. Stairs may be good for us health-wise, but they are a negative to buyers.
Both positive and negative impacts vary by the degree of the plus or minus. If it takes a four-wheel drive vehicle to utilize your driveway summer and winter, it is going to have a huge impact on desirability.
Second, let’s talk about things people desire as a general rule. Today’s trends – these change with the times. In fact, a real estate agent can pretty well determine when a home was built by looking at it. We don’t perceive change when it occurs over a long time period, but it does happen. Subtle changes, when added together, can add up to recognizable periods (we call this dating or dated in real estate).
A museum called Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska has kitchens, living rooms and bathrooms sitting side by side separated by 10-year time frames. When I walked by each grouping, I was amazed at the differences and remember remarking “Yes, that is exactly what it looked like” in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, etc. So, depending on when your home was built, it will likely reflect the trends of that era.
Trends of the past, such as formal dining rooms, separate rooms for living room, den, dining room, kitchen, laundry, etc. (choppy floor plans) have been replaced by the open great room concept. Home square footage grew through most of the 1990s eventually getting to around 4000sf and up as desirable but has been replaced by 1500sf to 2500sf as the sweet spot. Most desirable now is a 3-bedroom, 2-bath home (with one of those bedrooms and baths being a master suite) plus an attached 2-car garage. Laundry inside is a plus as opposed to in the garage.
Energy costs impact on desirability. Older homes have 4-inch walls with less insulation and single pane windows while newer homes have 6-inch walls, at least dual pane windows and more efficient heating and cooling systems. HVAC has replaced wall and base board heaters. High vaulted ceilings have been replaced by sensible vaulted ceilings. Code requirements have raised the required insulation for walls and ceilings.
Our mountain setting still dictates a preference for wood covered vaulted ceilings (think cabin feel). Outdated is paneling and wallpaper on the walls. Fireplaces have been replaced by airtight stoves for ambiance and warmth. White interior paint has given way to light, warm tones and hues. Front doors are painted to stand out with an inviting color. Wall-to-wall carpeting gave way to wood and laminate flooring throughout the house including bedrooms. Kitchen and bathroom decor went from Formica to tile to solid surface (Corian) to now granite and marble solid surface counters. Stainless steel appliances are in vogue now with gas being the most preferred for the stove and oven.
Following is a list of desirable and not-so-desirable features for our area categorized as Assets and Liabilities.
Watch for Part Two: Real Value vs. Computer-Generated Value.