Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What to Look for When Shopping for a Home in Chicago: From an Architect’s Perspective.

There are so many factors to consider when buying a new home that it can make even a seasoned buyer’s head spin. So this post is not going to attempt to address them individually, but instead point out a few reasons why it can be helpful get the advice of both a Realtor® and an architect before you make such a large investment.

The Obvious:

If you are buying a fixer-upper, or even planning on doing moderate work to the home, having an architect look at properties with you can offer tremendous benefits:

  • Envision the property’s potential.
    This is what architects do. No need to go into too much detail since there are TV shows about it.

  • Begin to consider how the budget and needs/wants come together.
    This can be very helpful in considering how purchase price and construction costs will add up. By collaborating with reputable builders the guesswork can be eliminated (see post:
    Collaboration is Key to Finding Client Value, April 24).

  • Understand the constraints of working within zoning and building codes.
    It’s not uncommon for a buyer to find what appears to be the perfect place, just to be disappointed when they learn that the zoning district they are in doesn’t allow any additional square footage. On the other hand, a property that would otherwise be unsuitable might be a great bargain if there is room to add a few hundred square feet. Even when working within a building it is very helpful to have an early understanding of how building codes will impact the project. Check back with Inside the Brackets regularly because this might be a topic we will expand upon in the future.

The Not-So-Obvious:

[1016] has assisted clients in selecting their homes and some of the most important observations are those that could impact resale value. For example, condos are often marketed as having a certain number of bedrooms, despite the fact that one or more of them might not meet the code requirements for being a habitable bedroom. This is not a deal breaker, and the room can still be used however the buyer would like to use it, but it’s good to be armed with that knowledge when negotiating price.

The quality of materials, craftsmanship and construction are also characteristics that an experienced architect is able to identify. While shiny new homes usually look great in appearance, it’s good to know what’s underneath when the polish wears off.

The services of a Realtor® are typically free to a buyer, so if you can find one who is also an architect you could kill two birds with one stone.

[1016] Principal Josh Canale is a licensed Illinois Realtor® and Professional Consultant with
Jameson Real Estate.

If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments section below or find us on LinkedIn (see side bar on the right).

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