It has been abundantly clear in the last few years that the housing market is a gamble. And whether you're buying a home as an investment or a place to retire, it'll be worth the effort to look for signs of future increases in value. Here are a few examples from the Utah market.
Quality construction. A home won't appreciate in value if it is poorly built. This doesn't just mean how it looks from the street. This includes having modern energy efficient components and good craftsmanship starting with the foundation. Daybreak Homes in South Jordan is a model community of quality green construction. When you find a house you like, have a building inspector take a close look at it to see that everything is in good order.
New and burgeoning communities. New developments tend to be strategically placed to encourage growth in the surrounding area. Eagle Mountain in Utah County was nothing but fields a few years ago. Now it's one of the fastest growing communities in Utah. And properties there are not only cheap, local governments are giving incentives for families to move in. That's a recipe for appreciating value.
Environmental quality. Most people don't think about the water or soil quality of new homes -- at least not until they have problems and they're stuck with it. Poor environmental can greatly reduce the value of your home even if you aren't planning on growing crops. When Geneva Steel was operating on the shore of Utah Lake, the water and property value was toxic. You can collect water and soil samples and send them somewhere like Timpview Analytical Labs to find out about the health of the ecosystem on a property.
Business growth. New businesses in an area are usually good for property value. This goes for Adobe coming in at the point of the Mountain and for a new dental practice for sale around the corner. Businesses provide jobs, and offer goods and services that can build demand for housing in an area. Many of the same things that make an area good for buying a business make it a good place for a home.
Community investment. - If the community is willing to put money and effort into keeping the neighborhood clean and safe, investing in schools and other institutions, your property value will likely steadily grow. Drive around the community and note how people keep their yards. Investigate how local schools are performing. Look up city ordinances and neighborhood covenants governing the use of property in your area.
There's no guarantee that any property will increase in value in the short term. But if you look for the foundation of a strong property value, and get in early, you're likely to be happy with your purchase down the road a few years.