How to Value a House

There are dozens of factors that can increase or decrease the value of a home. Your agent will weigh these to determine an appropriate offer when buying a home or listing your home for sale.

The basics for any property

Total number of bedrooms and bathrooms

Number of bedrooms is one of the most important factors in home valuations. Simply put, the more bedrooms and bathrooms, the higher the value. When searching for homes, many buyers will be searching based on a specific number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

Square footage

Especially with condos, the amount of space you have matters. The smallest increase can mean the difference between a loveseat and a sofa, or a four-top table versus a six. A 600-square-foot condo will bring substantially different buyers and price than an 800-square-foot condo. That’s not to say a small place is bad; all else being equal, it will sell for less than a larger equivalent.

Types of property

While it may seem obvious, some types of properties are worth more than others. All-else being equal, a detached home is worth more than a semi-detached, which is worth more than a townhouse. Lofts, condos, and apartments are relatively interchangeable, depending on the layout, location, and other factors.

Noise

Whether you’re on the ground in a detached home or 15 storeys up in a tall condo, you’re going to be concerned about noise. The main cause of noise is traffic, so busy streets will automatically have a lower value. Nearby attractions can also be a problem, like a bar or popular restaurant on your street. Being near an airport, on a flight path, or near train tracks are all big strikes, as the noise can affect the peaceful enjoyment of the home at all hours of the day and night.

Parking

While most houses in the suburbs have a driveway, many urban homes come without. Many homes, either detached or semi-detached, may have parking on the street or no parking at all. Parking spaces beneath condos are also a valuable commodity, with most condo owners paying a premium for their spot.

For detached and semi-detached houses

Garages

A garage is a sought-after addition to any home. Not only is it shelter for your vehicle, it’s a whole whack of empty space for storage, hobbies, or even another finished living space.

Corner lots

Many buyers don’t want corner lots: they’re usually more yardwork, come with traffic from two streets instead of one, and some don’t have a traditional backyard.

Finished basements

Viewing a beautiful home followed by entering an unfinished basement is a definite turn-off. Finished basements offer so much extra space—from a rec room to storage, and even extra bedrooms. An unfinished basement can be a huge hit to a home’s value.

Zoo Tip!

Even the height of a basement matters. If you have a finished basement that has low ceilings, it’s not much better than an unfinished basement with high ceilings. You want the space to be usable and low ceilings will make your basement harder to enjoy.

Usable attic/other space

Similar to the basement, if the attic has been converted to a usable space, you’re looking at a big jump in value, as it’s adding square footage and possible extra rooms to the home.

Lot size

If the home you’re looking at is six inches from your neighbour’s, you won’t have much privacy or any sunlight for landscaping. Large lots provide space for gatherings, for your dog to run around, and for a greater sense of privacy. Bigger lots add value, along with future renovation flexibility. Small lots, on the other hand, require less maintenance.

Location, location, location

School districts

Parents take education very seriously—as they should—so school zones are a serious consideration. Buyers should expect to pay more for a home one block over if it falls in a better school district.

The view

If the condo you’re interested in looks directly at another condo, you’re not going to love the view as much as if you’re overlooking a park, skyline, or lake. What you can see out your windows definitely matters, whether it be a ravine, a golf course, or even the green space of a school—all of which add value to the home.

Proximity to nature

Green space like parks and ravines are also wonderful to back onto, as they offer a nice view, but also some peace and quiet.

Proximity to other people

If your house of interest backs onto an apartment complex, you’re not going to have much privacy. If you’re at the bottom of a hill with a bunch of homes at the top, those people will see you every time you set foot in your backyard. Minimal space between dwellings will also reduce the value of your home.

Condo floor

Most people will pay a lot more for a condo on the 40th floor over the 14th floor. Higher units usually boast better views.

No definite effect

Sunlight

Do you prefer “fresh” sunlight first thing in the morning? Do you want sun in the afternoon to keep your heating costs down? Do you want to face north to avoid direct sun altogether? Buyers have opinions on which way their home faces, and bright spaces will always sell for more than dark spaces.

Pools

Do you love the idea of pool parties in the summer? Or does the upkeep of a pool year after year outweigh the benefits? A pool can increase value or devalue a property, depending on the location and the opinions of potential buyers.

Cemeteries

While some people look at cemeteries as quiet, park-like space, others see them as creepy and dark.

Stigmatization

Death in the home

When someone dies on the premises, agents don’t have to readily reveal that information but, if asked, will likely disclose. Some people won’t have a problem with it, especially if the death was someone elderly who died of natural causes, but it could have an effect on the selling value.

Murder in the home

If someone died violently on the property, it will probably be well-known and could have a dramatic effect on the value. If it’s been widely publicized, the home may also have problems getting financing for, or selling in the future.

Former grow-op

Typically in the basement, grow-ops require hot lamps and high humidity to operate. Due to their nature, grow-ops not only impact the electrical wiring of the house, but the moisture needed can also infect the structure with mould. In order to correct this, you’d need extensive work done on the house, followed by a certificate of occupancy from the city. Even then, some mortgage lenders won’t touch a former grow-op as the home will always be stigmatized.

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