by D. Babbs
With lower home prices and attractive mortgage rates, 2009 will present plenty of bargains for real-estate shoppers. But as the historic bust continues, Americans everywhere are learning a painful lesson about homebuying: Property values don't always increase. People looking to purchase a home this year should make sure they're buying into a community that can support long-term value. With the help of housing experts, U.S. News & World Report compiled a list of the top six ingredients of strong housing markets:
1. A well-groomed neighborhood: Well-maintained homes and landscaping have a positive effect on property values in that community, says Joshua Dorkin, founder and CEO of BiggerPockets.com, a real-estate networking and information site. By caring for the appearance of their homes, residents help to create a more aesthetically pleasing environment that future real-estate hunters will want to buy into. So when you're eyeing a home, make sure to take a drive through the entire neighborhood. Take note of how the neighbors care for their homes, lawns and gardens. "Run-down houses and abandoned cars are big red flags," Dorkin says.