naturally want to purchase a property that will be worth as much --
or more -- tomorrow as it is today. But what characteristics of a
home hold their value over years or decades?
Like any prediction, the answer involves a fair amount of
guesswork and speculation. Yet some solid data and plenty of
anecdotal evidence suggests that certain types of homes are
timeless in style and thus more likely to keep their worth, though
none is immune to local market conditions or the ups and downs of
6 ways to select a home with long-term value
No. 1: Location.
It has been said a million times, location is the most important
quality of real estate because location can never be altered, says
Brendon DeSimone, a real estate expert and blogger for Zillow.com.
A property in a great location is more likely to hold its
Location includes proximity to employment opportunity, good
, low crime and attractive, walkable streets.
Proximity to jobs might be especially key, says Jessica Lautz, a
survey research manager with the National Association of Realtors
As evidence, she cites a recent NAR survey that found 43 percent
of buyers ranked the convenience of jobs as a desirable
characteristic. Only neighborhood quality ranked higher, deemed
important by 61 percent. Even more telling, 46 percent of buyers
who had school-aged children ranked convenience of jobs as
important, the same proportion that highly valued the quality of
No. 2: Rooms.
Apart from location, the next best bet for a value-holding home has
to be a single-family home with three bedrooms and two
"That's the most popular type of home purchase, so if we're
talking about resale in the future, I would assume -- but I don't
know necessarily, jumping seven years ahead -- that that would
probably be the most popular type of home purchase at that time as
well," Lautz says.
Beyond that, so-called in-law suites, suitable for
, college students or others attached to the nuclear family, have
gained fans and might continue to do so.
"In 2007, only 15 percent of buyers who purchased a home that
didn't have an in-law suite said they'd be willing to pay more for
that if they bought a new home and that was an opportunity. Today,
that has jumped to 20 percent, which is a pretty big jump," Lautz
No. 3: Age.
The NAR study also found a preference for newer homes, with 16
percent of buyers stating a strong desire for a home less than five
"It's definitely a high priority for a lot of buyers to have a
newer home," Lautz says.
No. 4: Lot.
Some houses are built on standard plots while others rest on
oddly-shaped parcels. All else being equal, a regular lot and
larger backyard will make a home more appealing and thus more
likely to hold its value.
"You don't want a really small lot, smaller than average in the
neighborhood. You want whatever the average is," DeSimone says.
No. 5: Layout.
Buyers today tend to prefer open floor plans, but DeSimone says
that's a modern sensibility.
"In the 1920s and '30s, the kitchen was closed off and you had a
formal dining room. You'd think that would be timeless, but today,
the open kitchen, living and dining area is more valuable. Thirty
years from now, that might not be the trend," he says.
No. 6: Adaptability.
It's tempting to conclude that essentially permanent aspects of a
home like location and floor plan are more important in the value
equation than temporary characteristics like finishes and fixtures,
which tend to be easier to change.
But Vince Malta, a broker and Realtor at Malta & Co. in San
Francisco, says homes that will hold their value over the long term
need to be "adaptive" to their owners and environment.
"If you have a home that suits people for a short-range plan, I
don't believe that holds its value as much as a home that will take
you through your lifecycle a lot better," he says. "Homes that can
suit your needs for a longer period tend to hold their value or
become more valuable over time."