To appraisers and real estate agents amenities are features or factors that can make a real difference in real property value. Amenities include things like; flooring upgrades, above average landscaping, window treatments, city views, mountain views, golf course frontage, water frontage, water views, a larger site, private roadway access, security guards, gated communities and gated entries. Buyers want to own properties with as many amenities as possible.
How much of a difference does an amenity make? The proverbial "million dollar view" may not bring you a million dollars, but a great view can often bring you a significant premium. Most amenities do not have a set dollar figure associated with them. Gated community access won't add a fixed amount to your property value like $ 1,000 or $ 5,000. On the other hand, vacant land with beach or golf course frontage is often valued based on the number of frontage feet that it has on the water or golf course. Buyers are usually willing to pay more for real properties with one or more amenities that similar properties do not have.
In Las Vegas during the "recession of 2008" I have found that amenities once accepted by most buyers and sellers as being valuable, and in the past added significant value to a property, are now being looked upon by buyers as being of minor importance. Sure, the unobstructed city view is still commanding a premium, but it's not nearly as large a premium as it once was.
No studies have been published to my knowledge that have confirmed what appears to be a "loss" in amenity value. As a Las Vegas appraiser and broker, however, the loss of amenity importance has become obvious. With property sales price decreases of 40% or more over the last year being typical, and short sales and foreclosure sales everywhere, the focus in the housing market has gone back to the basics. Many buyers and sellers are focused on the price per square foot of the home, and amenities have become the features that either sell a home or not. Buyers are still searching for the optimal kitchen or the award winning floor plan, they just don’t want to pay a premium for those things in the current market.
If you happen to be one of the few buyers in the market, you can take advantage of the fact that amenities are not making the relatively large difference that they once did. Buying a property located on a corner with great "curb appeal" in a gated community may be no more expensive than buying one mid-block that is not in a gated area. You may also find in the used housing market that homes finished with relatively high quality improvements like; premium appliances, hardwood flooring, shutters or expensive landscaping can at times be purchased for the same price as plain vanilla finished properties.
Changes in the real estate markets have brought pain to many owners and opportunity for a few, and shopping for real estate won't be the same until things get back to normal.
For appraisers the market has a changed reality, one that not demand that every little amenity has a dollar figure associated with it. You can forget about your dated value adjustment table that show a dollar figure associated with each amenity. If you talk to market participants you will find that demand is not the same as it once was, buyers are now more interested in location and price than ever before.
2013 Update: As the home market has struggled forward more emphasis has again been placed on amenities, since buyers are now willing to pay for them.
For more appraisal information contact Glenn Rigdon, MA, MRICS, ASA a Las Vegas / Henderson Nevada appraiser via email or via his business website Horizon Village Appraisal (http://www.horizonvillageappraisal.com), or you can also click on “Contact Us” on the home page of this website.
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