When thinking about buying a home, pay particular attention to these two areas. See below for a list of questions you should ask your agent about these two rooms as you tour potential homes.
Rooms to Closely Review: The Kitchen
The first area people inspect closely is the kitchen. The family will spend most of their time together here, and it’s also where families come together for dinner, holidays and events. This is where you might have chance late-night conversations when you stumble in looking for a glass of water at midnight.
From a buyer (and future seller’s) position, the kitchen is one of the first places people see in a tour, and it needs to look its best—it should be updated within the last 5 years, or factor in the cost of doing it yourself. It should have room for a dining table, or a dining room attached. Many people want an island in the kitchen, but the room needs to have ample space for it to make sense.
More than just a storage space, cabinets can either tie the aesthetic of a room together or stand out in a way you don’t want them to. They also can be expensive to replace. Pay attention to details like this when viewing a new home’s kitchen.
Agent Samuel Ciochon, of Coldwell Banker: “Layout is the most important thing. Look for a spacious kitchen, and the presence of real cabinets (wood) that can be refinished. If the quality is there, and space, it’s really easy to redo. Painting cabinets or adding a backsplash are simple, inexpensive projects that can go a long way to improving the look of the kitchen.”
A well-equipped kitchen goes a long way in increasing the value of a home, so pay attention to what is already in place and what could use some updates.
Rooms to Closely Review: The Master Bedroom
Another room to inspect closely is the master bedroom. This is where you are going to spend most of your time in your home, albeit unconsciously, as we sleep for 1/3 of lives. It should feel like a space you can retreat to at the end of the day, when the kids are in bed, or when relatives become too much to deal with during the holidays. It’s a sanctuary, where we read and take Sunday afternoon naps.
From a real estate perspective, look at the functional qualities of the space. In Chicago, space in a master bedroom is key. Ciochon said, “Look at both closet space and actual space. Layout is important. In a master you want a central wall to put the bed on. If the door layout chops up the walls, you have to put the bed on a window wall, which is not ideal.”
He also remarked that not all 2-bedrooms are created equal. “Some condos we call ‘forced two-bedrooms,’ where basically you’re sacrificing space for number of rooms. Pay attention to this—sometimes fewer bedrooms mean a better layout or use of space.”
Buyers should look for master suites, with an attached bathroom, and ideally a double sink. Some newer buildings are doing away with tubs in favor of simpler stand-up showers. If you’re a bath person, this may be an important detail.
Likewise, keep an eye on the closets for the master bedroom. Walk-ins are amazing, but not every place has that type of space. Ciochon said, “Closets are incredibly important. However, you can also maximize space in our crowded city apartments here in Chicago with furniture and organizational systems, in lieu of lots of big closets. You can also see if you can combine the bedroom closet with the closet from the hallway, to build a walk-in.”
Just like with the kitchen, keep track of how many things need to be updated or just flat out replaced.
Questions to ask on Your Home Tours
When was the kitchen last updated?
How old are the appliances?
What are the cabinets made of?
Will this space support an island, or additional appliances?
Can the closets upstairs be combined and updated to walk-ins?
Are there rules and regulations about how I can renovate the space?
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