The Importance of the Layout

Posted by urbandigs

Thu Mar 27th, 2008 11:04 AM

A: I want to take a brief break from macro and discuss something that all buyer's should take into account as they seek to put their hard earned money to work in a new home; the layout. I've noted many times before here on in the buyers tips section the importance of putting your money into the permanent features of the property that likely won't change until resale: location, light, views, raw space. Obviously light/views is the only thing that may change should the property be next to a future development site. After these four permanent features, apartment layout is one of a few factors that I like to focus on to get the most bang for the buck. Let me explain.

When it comes to layout, I think of two things that are very important in the buying process: time line to own and resale-ability. As most people have budgets that should definitely be adhered to, one of the goals in the buying process is to get a property that is scalable to the buyers' needs. What I mean is, does the property allow room to grow? Having a 5+ year time line to own is a must, but having a property that allows the potential for a few more years is even better. In addition, does the layout appeal to the masses for resale?

layout-nyc-real-estate.jpgAfter spending more than 4 years in the field with many different buyers, I have come to understand what the masses look for and are willing to pay a little extra for come bid time. In no particular order, here are the things to look for in getting a desirable layout for most price points:

1. Scalability - In my opinion, one of the more important aspects of a layout! Does the layout afford the owner the luxury of scalability to meet the future needs of more usable space? The easiest way to explain this is a JR4 layout that is capable of being converted into a makeshift but doable 2BR; by converting the alcove dining/office area into its own bedroom. The key to scalability is having a room that offers its own window, at least 100 sft or so, room for a closet, and its own HVAC unit. Having a scalable layout does two things: allows the owner to live in the property for a few more years should they desire to do so + offer the future buyer the same luxury at resale.

2. Wasted Space - Does the layout make good use of space? I find that layouts with long hallways or very large bedrooms but small living areas are much less desirable to the masses. While this doesn't mean that you wont get a good price for this type of product at resale, it does make it harder to do so. Overall, having space wasted in long hallways or large foyers seems to have the biggest impact on buyers.

3. Formal Dining Room / Dining Area - A key element, especially at higher price points. Does the layout offer a separate dining area or formal dining room. There is a big difference between marketing a 4.5 room 2BR over a Classic 6 with its own formal dining room! In the end, if you are going to spend top dollar for a family home, be sure it has the features that will appeal to families down the road; and that means having a clear room/area for dining allowing the living room to be used on its own devices.

4. Configurable - A bit less important. Does the layout allow for changes? Can you lose a closet here so that you can expand a bathroom there? Buyers like the idea of customizing a layout to meet their own needs; so whenever possible, having a layout that is customizable may appeal to that perfect buyer at resale who has the ability to see the ultimate potential of the property.

5. Split Bedrooms - I find that most of my two bedroom buyers prefer to have split bedrooms. Leaving reasons why out of this discussion, the idea of the kids being across the apartment is more desirable! Again, this is layout feature that is less important than scalability and wasted space; but figured to mention it anyway!

Well, there it is! The importance of the layout when it comes to plunking down hundreds of thousands of dollars for your new home! Remember, permanent features of location, light, views, and raw space remain a higher priority in the buying process for future profit potential. After this, try to fine tune your vision to find a layout that will be able to meet your needs for time line
to own (can you grow into this property and stay a few more years), and appeal to the masses at resale!!


Transformation: My JR4 Into A 2BR

What To Do With Your JR4

Room Count: A Shady Science