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Buying Chester County Home With Good Bones Helps You Get It All

by Scott Darling

It doesn't matter if you are buying your first Chester County home or are a veteran home buyer, you will have list of ‘wants' and ‘needs' for your new Chester County home. The ‘wants' are things that would be nice to have such as a gas fireplace or granite counters. The ‘needs' are things like, well a ‘bathroom' or the number of bedrooms to suit your family. It is rare that you will get all your ‘wants' and needs' in the home you buy.

The key to maximizing your Chester County home investment today is distinguishing between the types of ‘wants' and ‘needs' you're better off buying as part of the property, and those you could add later without too much trouble and expense. Here's some information to help you prioritize the amenities on your list.

Location:

Location is the one thing you can't change about a property. Location is about being in a desirable neighborhood and close to (but not necessarily next to) valued amenities or planned ones -- employment opportunities, good schools, shopping, public transportation, major highways, parks and recreation, cultural activities, etc. A good location is also about not being on a high-traffic street, near noise, next to run-down properties, in a flood plain, etc.

Structural integrity:

Make sure the Chester County home you buy doesn't come with a cracked foundation, pest infestation, drainage issues, mold or other problems that may be difficult and expensive to correct. A home inspection will help you determine if these items are an issue.

Size:

The size of a home is important, especially if you're just starting to raise a family. You don't want to buy a home that is perfect for the two of you, knowing you want children in the next couple of years and making the home you buy too small. 

It's easier and less expensive to reconfigure existing space (turning a basement into a family room or a garage into a bedroom, for example) than to build an addition. And, you can only add that addition if yard size and zoning restrictions allow.

Bathrooms:

It is significantly more cost effective to remodel a bathroom than to add one, so look for a home that has the number of bathrooms you really want.

Bedrooms:

Find a home with at least the minimum number of bedrooms you require, but with space (perhaps an attic or enclosed porch) that could eventually be converted to a bedroom should you need another one in the future.

Cosmetics:

Although a neon pink bathroom might make you cringe, that's exactly the type of problem you can easily and inexpensively correct. You could repaint it yourself for around $50, or hire someone else to do it for a few hundred more.

Other items:

You can change -- or add -- over time without too much effort or cost: carpeting, landscaping, appliances, hardware and fixtures, lighting, countertops, cabinets, upgraded doors, vanities, closet space, siding, windows and lots more.

Buy a Chester County home with "good bones" in a good location. A home you're likely to enjoy living in for many years to come -- improving as you go. When you get ready to sell, you'll have exactly what other buyers are looking for!

Learn more about buying a Chester County home by visiting ChesterCountyHomeSource.com.

Search all Chester County homes for sale.

Will You Owe Capital Gains When Selling Your Chester County Home

by Scott Darling

Something to consider when selling your home is the Capital Gains ramifications. Will you owe Uncle Sam money after the sale of your Chester County home? Capital Gains are calculated as the difference between what you paid for your property and what you sell it for. Here is how you calculate your Capital Gains.

Calculating Capital Gains

(+) PURCHASE PRICE - Price paid for property

(+) COST OF PURCHASE - Transfer fees, attorney fees, inspections

(+) COST OF SALE - Repairs, commissions, attorney fees, inspections

(+) COST OF IMPROVEMENT - Room additions, deck, for example, though not replacing existing

(=) ADJUSTED COST BASIS OF YOUR HOME

(-) AMOUNT YOU SELL YOUR HOME

(=) CAPITAL GAIN 

A Special Real Estate Exemption for Capital Gains
Even though the above calculation may indicate you owe Capital Gains, there is a special real estate exemption. Since 1997, up to $250,000 in capital gains ($500,000 for a married couple) on the sale of a Chester County home is exempt from taxation if you meet the following criteria: 

  • You have lived in the home as your principal residence for two out of the last five years.
     
  • You have not sold or exchanged another home during the two years preceding the sale. 

NOTE: As of 2003, you may also qualify for this exemption if you meet what the IRS calls "unforeseen circumstances" such as job loss, divorce, or family medical emergency. 

Learn more about selling your Chester County home by visiting ChesterCountyHomeSource.com.

Search all Chester County homes for sale

Always consult a tax attorney regarding current tax laws.

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Photo of Scott Darling Real Estate
Scott Darling
RE/MAX Action Associates
403 W. Lincoln Highway #101
Exton PA 19341
(610) 594-SCOT
610-363-2001
Fax: (610) 363-5275