DEAR MR. MYERS: I am shopping for my first home. I am single and can swing the purchase of a one-bedroom condo pretty easily, but my real estate agent thinks I should stretch my budget and buy a two-bedroom condo because she claims that two-bedroom units have more appreciation potential. What do you think I should do?
ANSWER: Assuming that the payments won’t smother you, your best bet is to follow your agent’s advice and purchase a condo with two bedrooms instead of one.
Two-bedroom houses and condos usually appreciate faster than one-bedroom units because they appeal to a broader group of buyers. The resale market for one-bedroom homes is usually limited to single people or to married couples who don’t have kids.
Two-bedroom homes appeal to both of those groups, but also attract small families and even unrelated single persons who “team up” with each other to buy a home. Since two-bedroom units are more in demand, they typically rise faster in value.
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If you buy a two-bedroom home and later decide that your mortgage payments are too high, you could look for a roommate to rent one of the bedrooms from you. Although you could use the rent that your “roomie” pays to meet your mortgage bills, you would keep all of the profits when you eventually sell, because you would be the only owner of record. And if you decide against selling but instead convert the unit to a rental, you’ll find that two-bedroom properties are easier to lease out because they appeal to a far larger group of tenants.
REAL ESTATE TRIVIA: The median cost of a two-bedroom apartment across the U.S. is $1,300, according to a new report by internet apartment-finder apartmentlist.com, compared to $1,140 for a one-bedroom place. A typical two-bedroom rental unit in San Francisco costs $4,650 each month, the highest in the nation.
DEAR MR. MYERS: The home we recently purchased does not have central air-conditioning, so we bought a box fan and put it on the floor of our living room. My husband insists that the fan needs to blow directly on us to keep us cool, but I think it’s better to have the fan facing the open window so it will blow all of the hot air that is already inside our home to the outside. Who’s right?
ANSWER: It depends on the temperature, both inside and outside of your home, and how you position the fan.
A fan that’s placed in or near a window can draw in cool air from the outside, or push warm air out. It sounds as if you want to blow the hot air out of your living room, so you should place the fan with its blades facing an open window. The fan will help suck out the hot air from inside and send it out into the great beyond.
In autumn, though, you might want to face the fan the other way. It will draw the air that’s outside of the house inside to your living room, making it cooler and more comfortable.
DEAR MR. MYERS: We are remodeling our kitchen. One salesperson we talked with at a kitchen-remodeling store says we should choose granite for our new countertops, but a guy at another store says we should choose quartz. What would be best?
ANSWER: That’s a tough question, considering all the different types of materials that are used to make countertops today – from granite and quartz to marble, ceramic tile and even laminated wood.
Both granite and quartz are sturdy materials, which makes them perfect for high-use kitchens. They each are stain- and heat-resistant, an important consideration if you have kids who tend to spill their juice or soda on the countertop or if you absent-mindedly put a boiling pot or hot skillet on the counter without a protective pad underneath.
Still, they each have their drawbacks. Granite, unlike quartz, needs to be cleaned and resealed every few months or at least once a year, a representative for Consumer Reports said. Quartz (often called “engineered stone”) generally doesn’t need periodic resealing and comes in several different colors, but its seams are more visible and its edges can chip.
Granite tends to be a little more expensive to buy and install, according to visits I made to six home-improvement stores and kitchen-remodeling specialists, but not by much.
Two of those remodeling pros I visited provided a useful tip: If you choose granite, realize that the color and marbling of the stone in the showroom samples may be much different from what the retailer actually delivers. Ask the salesperson where the stone is coming from and, if possible, go to the stone yard to pick the slabs that you want.
David W. Myers’ column is distributed by Cowles Syndicate Inc.