Jim Valentine: Things change, stay current
Real estate involves many components that consumers tend to get a general understanding of. These can include what is considered square footage in a residential sale, what is a bedroom, tax consequences of a transaction, and more. Over time, these can change, but if one isn’t active in real estate, the changes aren’t always known to the consumer.
Homes are compared and valued in Northern Nevada primarily on the basis of square footage. To be used, the footage must be “heated,” serviced by the central heat system. This can get tricky if you have a sunroom add-on that opens to the rest of the home but doesn’t have a vent in the room. Sometimes there is a wood stove in such add-ons. Does that count? Not always, even though it can be heated. This can get trickier with the sophisticated plug-in heaters available today. The space can be heated efficiently and economically, but it isn’t connected to the central system. Substance over form says that this is viable square footage that will add to the utility and enjoyment of the home.
Many people still look for a closet to make a room a bedroom. This changed a few years back when the criteria became an outside window. It was recognized that you can bring in an armoire and have portable closet space so the room can be considered a bedroom. One exception to this is a basement bedroom that doesn’t have the required window exit capabilities. Just having a window doesn’t cut it, the window must be able to be easily reached, an adult must be able to fit through it, and they must be able to reach ground level. If you don’t have that, you don’t have a legal bedroom in your basement.
Basements aren’t common in Northern Nevada, but older homes have them as do homes built into a hillside. If you have a finished basement understand that the value of such square footage isn’t the same as that on the ground floor no matter how nicely it is finished. Finished basements are usually valued at 50 percent of what the rest of the home is valued at, i.e. if the main floor is valued at $250 per square foot, then the basement square footage would be valued at $125 per square foot. This is a rule of thumb to be adjusted appropriately by a knowledgeable appraiser.
Some people who haven’t sold in a while are still of the understanding that they must buy a home of equal or greater value when they sell their primary residence. That policy changed in the late 1980s. Today, you can sell your primary residence and take the first $500,000 profit tax-free as a married couple or $250,000 for a single person. Make sure you know the consequences of your transaction before you go forward; you might want to structure things differently with your agent as a result.
Appliances can be confusing in a residential transaction. Refrigerators are often included in a sale for a variety of reasons, but it is important to understand that they are personal property, not real property. An installed range/oven is included as is a wood stove, but many agents call them out specifically to prevent misunderstandings. They are usually considered real property, but write them in the listing or offer to be sure.
Our advice: There are many areas in real estate that can lead to confusion or misunderstanding. Ask questions during the process so you have a good base from which to make your decision. Don’t assume things will go exactly as you think if it is important. An example would be if you need the basement bedroom for your family needs. If it isn’t legal you will need to modify it so it complies. Be sure to figure the cost and hassle factor. Your agent can help you to determine that the home you are considering will work for your wants and needs.
Don’t try to learn everything, but get knowledge in the areas that will have the most impact on you. If you are clear about your wants and needs with your agent, your agent will be able to help you buy the right home.
When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-3704. firstname.lastname@example.org