Real estate in Seattle, or anywhere for that matter, is extremely price-driven. Just ask any home seller who has had his or her home on the market for more than a few weeks. Ask any homebuyer who is waiting for the ever-elusive “bottom of the market.”
But does absolute price equal absolute value? There is a strong relationship between the two, but are they equal?
Consider this scenario: You are searching for a new home and stumble across a listing for what seems to be your dream house. Everything from the size to the rooms to the style to the vegetable garden just sings out to you. And then you look at the price. The heavens open up, a chorus of angels is heard and your smile touches your ears: It’s within your price range. The higher end of it, of course, but what is a little stretching for your dream house?
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So you make an appointment to see it. But then you realize where it is and your heart falls. An hour-and-a-half commute to work? Every day? Each way? All of a sudden your dream home, even with its attainable price tag, isn’t looking as good. Sure, it’s a good price, but for you, the value just isn’t there.
We can talk all day about how great a price we paid for our house and we can convince ourselves that we got a “great deal.” But finding a great value? That’s quite a bit more vague and a whole lot more personal.
There are hundreds of lists and tips available for equipping yourself with the knowledge you need to purchase a new home. As with price, many of these things are obvious and straightforward. Can you afford it? How long will you live there? What size home do you need?
Perhaps we could all be a bit better served in our home search if we looked beyond the economics of purchasing our home and walked into the process with an accurate picture of how we personally define value.
You may value privacy more than your neighbor does, or a huge kitchen more than your aunt does. Your best friend might value a big lot in the country, while you want something maintenance-free in the city. These aren’t needs; those tend to end somewhere around roof, warmth, food and water. They are values, and you might be willing to pay more for them than the next person. Or less. But understanding what you value before you begin your home search might be a better place to start than price alone.
Now, once more, picture your dream house above. What if it was $20,000 less? $50,000 less? $100,000? Somewhere along the line the price probably could align with its value to you … or again, maybe not.
Kristi Sundquist is the marketing director of Sundquist Homes and is on the Communications Committee of the New Home Council. “Market Matters” is the council’s weekly column offering insight into the housing market. For more information on homebuying, visit thenewhomecouncil.com.