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Gauging a Homes Potential


By Pete Chaison

Buying a home can be many things, from nerve wracking to exciting, or many emotions in between.  Regardless of your emotional range it is never good to overlook the potential of any given home. Potential is looking past the funky wallpaper, the shag carpet and the hideous light and plumbing fixtures.  If you cannot see or visualize past this you might be missing out the home’s true potential.  These homes do take some of your time and money, but can be worth it in the end.

The first thing to do is to get pre-approved for a loan and determine the requirements of a loan.  What can you afford, how much money will be required to close, taking into consideration both a down payment and closing costs (see last weeks article).  Do not set yourself up for disappointment by looking at homes way above or out of your comfort zone.  If you are interested in buying a home, which needs some work, have a budget in mind, and get an estimate of what the work will cost.


Often you will hear a REALTOR mention the house has good bones.  We are referring to the floor plan and the layout of the house.  Does the home have a good feel to it?  The light and the openness which you desire and of course the functional space that suits your and your families needs.  If you like the neighborhood, the yard and of course the bones of the home, then it is time to take a closer look at what it will take to get the home up to your standards of comfort and use. 

Once this is determined take a closer look and evaluate the walls and floors.  Walls are the easiest and least costly to remedy by removing old wallpaper if necessary and repainting.  Visualize the walls in a color(s) that you would use to paint.  Similar to the walls, carpet can easily be replaced with engineered flooring, hardwoods or new carpet.  Trim can be added or painted  to enhance the appearance of any room. 

Landscaping can make or break the appearance of a home.  Visualize the home with trimmed bushes and trees.  Many homes in need of work are often camouflaged by overgrown vegetation.  Sprucing up the beds and adding some additional color can go a long way in helping your home appearance.  Pressure washing the driveway and sidewalks always helps. Curb appeal is always important.

The kitchen is always the most popular room in a house.  Again if you like the layout and bones of the kitchen over time, or initially, this room can be updated with flooring, counters, appliances and cabinets.  The most time and potentially the most funds will be used and spent in the kitchen.  Bathrooms are also an area in which new flooring; counters and fixtures can be replaced over time.  You need to like the size and layout as improvements can always make a room more functional and aesthetically pleasing.  You can never have enough storage space so closets and the garage can and should be important.  Some homes have had the garage converted to an extra room.  Do not let this deter you as they can typically be converted back to its original form without a large investment.

If you want a pool it is always best to purchase a home with one.  Pools rarely retain their initial installation value.  The cost of repairing an existing pool is a lot less expensive than installing a new one.

When making an offer on a home make sure you consider what features you can live and do with out.  Determine your time and budget requirements, while keeping in mind these expenses will be out of pocket and typically will not be financed.  When I was in the remodeling business before purchasing, I would bring in trades to get an solid estimate of cost and the scope of work to be completed.  We always recommend hiring a local home inspector and make it a point of being there with him or her to go over the results.  And it is a good idea to keep in mind that unless you are building your dream home from the dirt on up, it is highly unlikely you will be purchasing the perfect home.  But by buying a home while seeing the potential you can own a home that suits your needs and demands.  It will take both your time and energy as the rewards will be home ownership and a good investment of your future.  In many cases home ownership can be cheaper than renting.

And of course do not under estimate the value of using a knowledgeable and trusted REALTOR. 

Pete Chaison is co owner of Savannah List for Less and can be reached at or 912.313.2759

CORRECTION: In last weeks article it was incorrectly stated that the seller selects an attorney used to close a home.  In Georgia the purchaser of the property typically selects it.


Written by: Pete Chaison
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