3 Things You Can't Change About a House

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can't change about a housePaint color, you can change. You can even rebuild the back deck to add the barbecue grill of your dreams. But there are three things you can't change about a house which makes them the most important things to look for when you go home-shopping:

1. Light

We are light-seeking creatures. In the pecking order of desirability, the best homes have southern exposures followed by eastern, western and then northern. The natural light in our homes varies at different times of the year, but homes with southern exposures will always be your brightest. Natural light affects our moods, how our plants grow, whether we need to burn up energy with lights turned on in the middle of the day.

Think about it: You can't reposition a house. If it's dark and gloomy, as many north-facing homes are, you can add skylights, paint the walls white and cut back any overhanging trees that create shade. But at the end of the day, you will still not have a bright and sunny house.

Remember, too, that a swimming pool on the south side gets the most afternoon sunshine, which is when most people use their pools.
2. Noise

can't change about a houseCorner houses get street noise from two streets, hence they are generally less desirable unless both those streets aren't heavily trafficked. On the other hand, being at the end of a cul-de-sac has the advantage that few cars will be driving by your front window.

If the house you are considering is on a busy street, it will be noisy. Visit it at various times of day and night to see just how bad it is. If the owners keep TVs on in every room as white noise, think about whether that's something you're willing to do.

You can't make traffic noise go away. You can dampen it a little with some vegetation -- a wall of hedges will help. Or you can drown it out with other noise. But it will not ever fully go away unless all the cars do.

3. Views

can't change about a houseOcean, mountain, canyon or city lights views are all desirable and add to a home's value. But before they pay for it, homebuyers should check local laws to make sure that that view is protected from future construction.

For example, right now the lot next door is empty, providing a lovely view and a sense of openness. But if it's a build-able lot, someone can and eventually will, build on it.

It behooves you to determine the ownership of the lot and what the plans are for it. The value of the house you are considering buying is predicated on the fact that you don't have a neighbor on that side. If that changes, so could the home's value. Plus once the view is gone, so is the added value that you paid for it.

There's a joke about the only way to add a view to your home if it doesn't come with one; it involves a tsunami or earthquake, and you get the idea.

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