How to Find the Hidden Value in Your New La Paz Home
When searching for your new La Paz area home, you likely have a short list of features and amenities in mind that fit your idea of the perfect property. Most buyers start with an idea of the right location, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms they need, the kind of living space they want, and a list of amenities. Does this home have a pool? Check. Ocean view? Check. A rooftop patio for outdoor entertaining? Check.
But what about those hidden features and amenities that may not be so obvious? Following are a few things to consider when you’re looking at a potential home that may be easy to overlook, but that can add up to thousands of dollars in both the value and livability of your new La Paz home.
Construction Materials: How Was this Home Built?
Here in La Paz, most homes are built using concrete block construction with a flat, sealed roof. (Many of us use our rooftops as an extra patio, doubling our outdoor living space and enjoying even better views.) When built correctly, these homes withstand almost any kind of weather, are cost-effective, and are built to last. However, they offer little in the way of insulation. That is fine for many buyers, since the weather here is so temperate.
However, some builders are starting to use newer materials such as NOVIDESA, a construction method that combines polystyrene panels with steel reinforced concrete. While more expensive to build with, NOVIDESA homes offer buyers several benefits, including insulation from both heat and cold, lower utility bills, noise reduction and added storm protection. NOVIDESA adds between 15-25% of the total construction cost to a new home, so a home built in this style offers buyers an enormous “built-in” value. This may not be immediately obvious when you tour a home, but can make a big difference in its livability over time.
Most homes here are built with single-pane windows and sliding doors to save on cost. Again, because the climate is so temperate, it’s not usually a place where builders spend their money, and single pane performs fine in most weather. However, you may occasionally see a homeowner who invested in dual-pane doors and windows. These offer added protection in storms, and also help with insulation and noise reduction.
Pool Construction: What Kind of Maintenance Can I Expect?
Many La Paz home buyers are looking for a house that includes a pool. After all, if you are buying your home to use either for vacation or to enjoy your retirement, you’ll want to spend as much time as possible outside to enjoy the sunshine and great weather La Paz has to offer. When buying a home with a pool, here are some things to consider: Is your new home’s pool treated with chlorine, salt or is it chemical free? Chlorine is readily available and most commonly used to keep pools clean, but many homeowners are now choosing salt water pools as an alternative. One thing to keep in mind is that salt can corrode the softer stone, such as Cantera, that many homeowners use as coping around their pools and on their patios, so be aware of potential maintenance costs if your home has a saltwater pool.
Chemical free pool ionizers are another, though rarer, alternative that use copper and silver ions to keep the pool sparkling clean without using harsh chemicals. These are more expensive to buy and install, but eliminate the need to buy and add chemicals every week and will cut down on corrosion vs salt systems.
Is the pool interior lined with venetian tile? You may need to factor in more maintenance, as the grout can wear away and need to be cleaned, and tiles may need to be replaced. PebbleTec is an exposed aggregate pool finish that is highly durable and lower maintenance, and guaranteed to last for years. While it costs more to install, home buyers can usually be assured that a PebbleTec pool provides good quality, durability and low maintenance.
Is a Water Treatment System Included?
The water in some areas of La Paz has a lot of calcium in it, which can cause buildup in your appliances and on your fixtures. Does the new home have a water softener to help alleviate this issue? What about drinking water? While the city provided water is treated, most residents opt to either purchase drinking water or filter it at the tap due to the taste. An under sink reverse osmosis (RO) system can provide filtered drinking water and eliminate those pesky trips to Oxxo to buy and exchange the big garafons (20 liter jugs) of water. A whole house filtration system, on the other hand, provides filtered, safe and mineral free water from every tap, and is an investment that will pay off for years to come.
Window Treatments: Will I Need to Buy Blinds?
When making the decision to build versus buy, many buyers overlook the hidden costs of furnishing and decorating a new home. An existing home that has blinds already installed can save you thousands of dollars and provide instant relief from the sun’s rays, as well as costs in utility bills. In addition, security bars that have been installed on windows and doors can be expensive to add later on, but add an extra measure of security, especially for seasonal visitors. Does it already have screens on all doors and windows? Those are not always automatic, but you’ll want to have them to fully enjoy your home.
Storm Shutters Provide an Extra Level of Protection and Security
Baja California Sur boasts over 300 days of sunshine each year. However, we do have a storm season, which typically runs from mid-August through mid-October. (Officially the “hurricane season” is longer and storms can hit anytime during the summer months from May – October). A home that has storm or hurricane shutters already installed is a value not to be overlooked. While big storms are rare, a hurricane such as Odile, which hit in 2014, can blow out windows and doors, and cause damage to your furniture and belongings. Hurricane shutters can be very effective at preventing this kind of damage. They also give seasonal visitors an extra measure of security, the ability to “lock down” your home when you leave for extended periods make your home a more difficult target for thieves. Shutters come in many different styles and price points, from the kind you put up manually to automated, remote controlled shutters that raise and lower at the touch of a button.
Does the Yard Have Mature Landscaping?
While not as sexy as an ocean view, landscaping and irrigation is another one of those investments that is easy to overlook, but can cost a new home buyer thousands of dollars to install. If your new home’s landscape includes mature trees, natural vegetation, irrigation and well maintained gravel or other yard, you can rest assured that you are benefiting from years of hard work and investment.
Does the Home Include Furniture?
Another item to consider is whether a home is furnished. Used furniture may not excite most people, but a “turnkey” home (ready to rent) can spare you considerable time and money and could open up rental income potential. Even if it’s just partially furnished with a few of the larger items you will have a shorter checklist of things you need before you can start enjoying your new vacation or retirement home.
These are just a few of the “hidden” features and amenities in a home that may not be immediately obvious, but that can add up to thousands of dollars in value to home buyers. The next time you’re viewing a home for sale, remember to ask the selling agent about these hidden value items. You could end up with a lot more home for your money.