If finding the best home values was as easy as leafing through the weekend real estate ads and comparing prices, maybe we'd all be as rich as those seminar peddlers suggest ... but never promise. Asking-price alone isn't necessarily the premier criteria for determining value. Neither is square footage, but you're getting warmer.
Rogue River Covered Bridge Realty principal and broker, Greg Worthington, considers price per square foot as a key indicator of value in some instances. "If all homes are equal in size, like in a new development, then the price per square foot is important." The preferred locations will command higher prices.
Are "green" building techniques and materials returning their value on resale here in Southern Oregon? The question remains open according to regional real estate appraiser, Garrett Pottmeyer. "It's starting to poke its head into the Southern Oregon region. The biggest problem we have now is there are builders saying they have green buildings, but they actually aren't green-certified," he says.
Pottmeyer cites the Portland and Eugene areas as leading the way in quantifying green building parameters and values. "They're starting to show us what people are willing to pay for the green aspect."
"It's still new to our area, but it's going to make a difference [in home values]," Pottmeyer predicts.
His beliefs are reinforced by Monte Mendenhall, regional community manager for Pacific Power in Southern Oregon. Mendenall says, "There's a growing awareness of energy conservation in our area. It's driven by two considerations. First, the increasing price of power; second, concerns about climate change. There's a greater interest coming soon."
"But then you get into other factors," Worthington continues. "For instance, some people prefer an older neighborhood with bigger lots or more mature trees. If there are kids in the family, you have considerations like access to schools, or sports arenas. Retirees might be looking for easy access to medical facilities. So I'd say location is first in determining value, then price per square foot."
Yet certain objective criteria cannot be ignored, according to Jackson and Josephine counties appraiser Garrett Pottmeyer and Grants Pass proprietor of Appraisal Company of Southern Oregon LLC. He agrees with Worthington's acknowledgement of that hoary real estate cliché: Location, location, location. "That's very true," Pottmeyer says. "Appraisers often encounter folks who have put a lot of sweat equity into remodeling their homes and think it makes those homes worth more. They feel they're being cheated when the appraisal comes in lower because their properties aren't in the most ideal location.
"Landscaping is a big one in this regard. I tell people, 'Landscaping is expensive and time-consuming to install. Please make sure you're the one who enjoys it because your return on it will not be what you put into it.'" Pools are another expensive investment that usually fail to enhance value equal to their cost.
Yet even the perceived value of something like landscaping varies greatly depending on a given home's location. Pottmeyer says many Ashland buyers look for lush landscaping with year-round appeal as an essential component to a given property's worth.
He goes on to identify curb appeal as critical to a home's value. A clean, neat exterior sporting up-to-date touches like double-pane windows, fresh paint, and modern, layered roofing count among further cues of better value. He's also observed a growing trend of smaller families, or couples only, who seek larger kitchens and complete master bedroom suites as compelling particulars in their home value considerations.
Traditional criteria for real estate investors remain important in the value discussion. Buying the "sore thumb" property of a neighborhood and renovating it to the standards of surrounding homes is an almost certain return on investment. Wisely chosen improvements will raise such a house's value beyond their cost, sometimes substantially more.
Objectively speaking then, the best home values cannot be established without plenty of subjective considerations. If the location's right and the price is comparable to similar properties, a given home's value lies, it would seem, mainly in the eye of the beholder — you.