To appraisers and real estate agents amenities are those features that can make a real difference in real property value. Amenities include things like; city views, mountain views, golf course frontage, water frontage, water views, private roadway access and gated entries. Buyers want to own properties with many amenities.
How much of a difference does an amenity make? The proverbial “million dollar view" may not bring you a million dollars in most places, but a great view can bring a significant premium. Most amenities do not have a dollar figure associated with them, gated community access won't add a fixed amount to your property value. On the other hand, vacant land with beach or golf course frontage is often valued based on the number of frontage feet it has. Buyers are generally, however, still willing to pay more for real properties with one or more amenities.
In Las Vegas during the “recession of 2008" I have found that the amenities once accepted by most buyers and sellers as being valuable, or adding value to a property, are now looked upon as being of minor importance. Sure, the unobstructed city view is still commanding a premium, but it's not nearly as large a premium as it once was.
No studies have been published to my knowledge that confirm this “loss" in amenity value. As a Las Vegas appraiser and broker, however, the loss of amenity importance has become obvious. With property sales price decreases of 50% or more being typical, and short sales and foreclosure sales everywhere, the focus in the housing market has gone back to the basics. There are more people in the market who are now shopping for housing based on a price per square foot unit of comparison and not based on a search for an optimal kitchen or an award winning floor plan.
If you happen to be one of the few buyers in the market, you can take advantage of the fact that amenities are not making the relatively large difference that they once did. Buying a property located on a corner with great “curb appeal" in a gated community may be no more expensive that buying one mid-block that is not in a gated area. You may also find in the used housing market that homes finished with relatively high quality improvements like; premium appliances, hardwood flooring, shutters and expensive landscaping can at times be purchased for the same price as plain vanilla finished properties.
Changes in the real estate markets have brought pain to many and opportunity to a few, and shopping for real estate won't be the same until things get back to normal.
The author, Glenn J. Rigdon, BS, BSCS, MA, ASA is a Realtor, a commercial broker and a commercial appraiser with 30 years of experience working in the real estate industry. Mr. Rigdon has held the position of Economist with the Arizona State Land Department and Staff Specialist - Legal with the Nevada Department of Transportation. See http://www.horizonvillageappraisal.com for more info.