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Upgrading Your Real Estate

March 31st, 2016

You’ve worked hard for your success, and now you’re ready to celebrate by upgrading your real estate. The bigger the home, the greater the stakes — especially because your home is one of your most important investments. Avoid costly mistakes and factor these considerations into your decision.

Schools and Public Resources

Even if you send your children to private school, you’ll still want to live in a community that places a high value on public education and resources. Although it’s true that property taxes are often higher in high-performing districts, so are property values. And because smart buyers always consider resale before purchasing, you’ll definitely want to choose a town that other buyers will want later on. That means excellent public schools, plus a well-stocked library, attentive police and fire departments and other amenities of your choosing. Sure, you can find a fabulous home for less money in an area that lacks these niceties, but you’ll also discover that you’ll reduce the size of your own buyer pool dramatically.

Community Expectations

If you’re considering a gated community or a neighborhood that features historic homes, do yourself a favor and find out what the expectations are with regard to renovations and outdoor décor. Historic homes and neighborhoods, for example, strictly limit a wide array of renovations that won’t be a problem in other places. If you have no patience for red tape and raised eyebrows, reconsider any community that requires committee approval before renovations. A guest house and swimming pool might not seem like a big deal to you, but in some places, it’s enough to start a war of words that can end in costly legal bills — and a damaged reputation.

Zoning

Perhaps your community is committee-free, but you’ll still want to find out what your zoning rules are. Stop by your building inspector’s office and ask about issues such as setbacks, lot size requirements, wetlands or septic size. Don’t even think about building first and asking for permission later — not only will you get stuck with a big fine when you try to sell, but you’ll also find yourself with a wicked tax bill. You could even end up having to knock down whatever you spent time and resources putting up. Even if you’re just thinking about changing the driveway or moving the mailbox, ask first — because you’ll wind up surprised at what you can and can’t do.

Renovating

Did you find a diamond in the rough in a neighborhood that’s tough to access? Congratulations — but proceed with caution. The old adage that renovations take three times as long and cost twice as much as you think they will is an old adage because it’s more often than not true. Also, you may want to live in your new home before you start ripping down walls. Oftentimes it takes a year or two to figure out what it is your new house really needs.

If you just can’t wait, hire an architect and a designer whose reputations you trust. It’s best if you can choose someone you’ve worked with before. If you’re planning to do interior and exterior work, do the interior work first. Big trucks can damage new driveways and landscaping.

Finally, don’t forget to take before and after pictures — even if you’re not renovating at all. There’s nothing like seeing how far you’ve come to make you appreciate all the things you’ve earned.