An important factor in home building and buying is resale value. Barndominiums are part of a full-forced trend that seems like it’s here to stay, but do the homes hold their value?
Barndominiums hold their resale value quite well. Highly customized barndos may have lower resale value, but, in general, the homes retain their worth. Considering that these houses are usually modern and offer money savings benefits like lower utilities, they have a competitive market position.
Barndos didn’t always have high resale values, but as their popularity has grown, so has their worth. The following article will discuss the resale value of barndominiums, how the market works, and why their worth has gone up.
What Is a Barndominium?
Of course, to understand the worth of a barndominium (also called a barndo), we must first understand what a barndominium is.
A barndominium is a type of home that combines a metal-sided barn’s structural format with all of the trappings of a proper home. The cost-effectiveness of barns and warehouses can lend itself well to saving money when building a home. Of course, the more elaborate the barndo plan, the higher the cost to build.
For instance, if you follow the simple rectangular shape of a barn and throw in a few walls for bathrooms and bedrooms, your cost is going to be much lower than if you build a multistory abode with extensive customization. Having a home that costs more to build in general means having a home worth more; however, extremely personal features can bring the value down instead of driving it up.
How Resale Value Works
Resale value is the amount of money you can make if you decide to sell your home. This number depends on many factors that apply to both traditional homes and barndominiums.
Let’s take a look at these factors and see how they apply to barndos.
“Comps” is a term used in real estate that refers to the comparable homes that are on the market. When a comparable home is sold, you can use that price as a reference point or validation for your own pricing.
Certain things determine whether or not a home is a comp:
- Location. Homes that are in places similar to yours are good candidates for a comp.
- Features. If your house has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a pool, a good comp may also have these things.
- Proximity. The closer a comp is to your home, the better.
- Recent sales. If a sale happened a long time ago, it might not be accepted as a relevant comparison. Comps should have been recent sales as that will be the market you’re selling in.
For a long time, there weren’t enough comps for barndominiums. The home-style was new on the market, and even the people who had them weren’t necessarily looking to sell them. Today, there are thousands of barndos for sale across the US, including over 400 listed in Texas alone. With listings from $30,000 US to $7,000,000 US, there’s a large fluctuation in relative price.
The high number of barndominiums means that there are valid comparable properties throughout the country; you just may have to look a bit farther than with a standard home.
The location of your home has a huge influence on the resale value. There is a reason realtors are always saying “location, location, location.” This is as essential for barndominiums as it is for traditional homes.
Some of the key factors in a location are:
- Surrounding employment rates
- Nearby amenities
- Location Walk Score
- Proximity to schools, parks, playgrounds
While the term “barndominium” may bring to mind visions of rolling hills and wandering cows, not all barndos are on a farm. You can also find these homes in the middle of urban sprawls such as Miami, Florida. The location of your property is as crucial for barndos as it is for traditional homes.
The square footage of your home is extremely important to the resale value. People are often most concerned with “livable space.” According to the Sauder School of Business, livable space “includes only livable areas above-grade that are heated year-round. This does not include three-season sunrooms, porches, verandas, or heated garages.”
So if you have a 3,000 square foot home with an 800 square foot garage, it will be considered a 2,200 square foot home. Even this is below the average for American homes, as the median size for homes in the US has been growing for the last 70 years. Take a look at the chart below to see how the average home size has grown in the USA.
|Average Home Size
|983 square feet
|1,500 square feet
|2,349 square feet
The great thing is, with most barndominiums, space abounds. One of the most appealing features of the structure is the abundance of space. Multiple levels and wide-open living spaces allow for high square footage. Even if barndominiums are not actually larger, they often feel it. Thanks to vaulted ceilings and lofted hallways, your mind is tricked into accepting the building as larger than one that is cut up into little squares of rooms.
Age of Home
Newer homes almost always have higher resale value than older homes. This is because newer homes will need less work done on them in the coming years. An older home might be nearing the point when it needs a new roof, repainting, or plumbing work– or it could need them already.
Homes that were built recently shouldn’t need much care in the next five to ten years. The great thing about barndominiums is that the vast majority of them have been built in the last decade. If you buy any home that was built within the last ten years, it will have a huge leg up on resale value compared to older homes.
Another reason home buyers look for newer homes is the style. Aesthetically, home design has changed a lot since the 1950s. As technology has improved, so has our ability to insulate and heat homes. This has allowed for larger living spaces and bigger windows. Our homes are no longer cut up into narrow hallways and separate quarters; instead, people crave the sleek, flowing spaces of modern design.
Sustainable materials are also one of the biggest trends for living spaces, and you’re much more likely to find anything like this in a modern home.
Home Features and Upgrades
Another big factor in the resale value of a home is the special features it may have to offer. When building or buying a barndominium, look for the following aspects to ensure maximum resale value:
- Energy-efficient appliances
- ENERGY STAR certified windows, doors, and skylights
- Outdoor living space
- Open living plan
- Tasteful landscaping
- Separate but accessible laundry room
- Smart thermostat and heating system
- Ceiling fans for aesthetics and energy efficiency
- Open storage space
- Exterior lighting
- Home security
- Walk-in pantry
- Walk-in closets
- Multiple dining spaces
- Hardwood flooring
The good thing about barndominiums is that they inherently check a lot of these boxes. As mentioned, most barndos are designed with open living spaces, energy-efficient appliances and parts, and outdoor living spaces.
Similar to the features and upgrades in a home, the quality of the construction itself has a great influence on price. Even if you have all of the features listed above, if the house is poorly built, then you’ll still have a low-value home.
One of the most appealing features of a barndominium is the durability of the home. Metal barndominiums offer excellent strength per weight of material and fantastic protection from the elements. Moreover, metal barndominiums will never rot, like wood, or become infested with termites or other wood-eating pests.
Metal structures have a better chance of withstanding natural disasters like earthquakes and storms. They are also impervious to flame, so while the objects inside may not be, the house itself will doubtfully burn down.
The Cost to Build a Barndominium
Now that we’ve looked at the factors taken into consideration when determining resale value, we should discuss the cost to build a barndominium to determine whether it’s worth it.
Most of the time, the cost to build a home is measured in dollars per square foot. For the traditional home, the average cost is about $145 US per square foot. Barndominiums come in at about $80-90 US per square foot. That means for a 2,000 square foot home; you could save more than $100,000 by going with a barndominium.
Now, if we look at this 1,536 square foot barndominium outside of Austin, Texas, we can see a home that might have cost as little as $140,000 US to build selling for upwards of $485,000. A comparable 1,705 square foot traditional home nearby that may have cost $246,500 US to build is selling for just $279,900 US. Both of these homes have three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
This, of course, is only one example and does not guarantee that your barndominium will sell for more than traditional homes in your area.
Getting a Mortgage for a Barndominum
One of the main concerns for potential home buyers is whether or not they can be approved for a mortgage. Different types of homes hold different mortgage rates, and for certain types of structures, it can be nearly impossible to get a mortgage.
In particular, mobile homes are difficult to get mortgages for, especially if they are on leased land. This is one of the reasons why mobile homes have a much lower resale value. If the mobile home is in an RV park or is stationed on rented land, then you cannot get a traditional mortgage to purchase the mobile home itself. The money for the purchase will have to be put up outright or be procured from an outside lender.
If you are purchasing land with a mobile home on a permanent foundation, you have a better chance of securing a mortgage. That’s why it’s much easier to get a mortgage for a barndominium than it is for mobile homes.
Barndominiums are permanent structures that are built on the property itself. The construction of these buildings must adhere to local building codes. This includes certain restrictions on size, appearance, and safety measurements. For all intents and purposes, barndominiums are considered houses.
There are many lenders that are happy to work with you while you build your barndominium. Getting a mortgage at the planning stage isn’t too much different than getting a mortgage before building a home. Neither is getting a mortgage for a completed barndominium. You can rest assured knowing that getting a mortgage for a barndominium is only going to get easier as they become more and more common.
What Is a Barndominium Home Worth?
The worth (and resale value) of a barndominium varies greatly depending on a few different factors. The home’s location, the size of the home, the quality of the building, the size of the lot, and customization are all key components when it comes to the worth of a barndo.
We’ve previously touched on the importance of house location and size, but let’s explore the last four criteria here.
Quality of Construction
Something that determines the worth of a home, and resale value of a home, is the building’s quality. Barndominiums, like any other style of home, can be erected using sub-par standards. Just like in any construction industry, some builders cut corners, don’t double-check their work, and use lower-end materials.
It’s important to vet the companies you hire to ensure that you choose a reliable company. This will ensure that your barndominium has maximum worth and resale value when the time comes.
If you’re about to embark on the construction of a barndominium, but you’re at a loss for how to pick a good construction company, here are a few tips:
Online reviews are one of the best ways to determine the general workmanship of a company. Shop around, read as many reviews as possible of different companies. Reach out to any people who have left a review that you found particularly helpful, and ask them for more details about the company. Try and find reviews for projects that are similar to the one you’d like to do.
Find people in your city or neighborhood that have commissioned their own barndominium build, and ask them who they used. Find out what they liked and didn’t like about the company. Inquire if they would ever use the company again.
Look for Building Guarantees
Some builders offer guarantees on their work. They will rebuild or repair anything that might fail due to their negligence within the first five to ten years of the home standing. Often with companies that stand by their work like this. There is rarely a need for them to redo their work. It can also give you and your future seller peace of mind in your investments.
Choose an Award Winner
There are plenty of national and regional building awards throughout the country. These awards are a great way to flush out some of the competition. Walters Buildings, for instance, has an entire page on their site dedicated to their award-winning projects. This is an easy way for their customers to tell that Walters Buildings performs quality builds.
Find Homes You Like
Another great way to find a reliable builder for your home is by finding barndominiums that you like, and from there, asking who the builder was. These projects can be local or national. Many barndominium designers ship internationally, so you can always find a design you like, and then find a local designer separately. Plus, even if a builder doesn’t work in your region, they may know of a reputable one who does.
Proper Construction Practices
If you’re purchasing a move-in ready barndominium, it’s even more important to be diligent about finding a home built with proper construction practices. Because you won’t have watched the house go up, you’ll mostly be going on the seller’s word when it comes to the quality of the building.
Here are some ways to ensure that the barndominium you’re looking at has proper construction:
Hire a Home Inspector
One of the best ways to ensure that you’re about to make a good investment is by hiring a home inspector. Home inspectors evaluate the worth of a house, meaning the condition it’s in, the structural integrity, and anything that may have to be replaced in the coming years.
While a home inspector cannot fix anything that was built to subpar standards, they may catch some glaring flaws that an untrained eye fails to notice.
A home inspector differs from a real estate appraiser, who is hired to analyze the land’s value, not the structure.
Look for Cracks in Concrete and Flooring
Barndominiums often make use of concrete slabs and flooring for both indoor and outdoor construction. This is part of what makes barndominiums so affordable, but if rushed, it can cause issues.
Any cracks in these surfaces can be a sign that the soil beneath the house was not properly tamped and settled before the concrete was poured. This can mean compromised structural integrity of the home over the years.
Watch for Any Drafts
Close the doors and windows of the house you are looking at. Turn off any fans and heat. Walk through the house and take note of any drafts that you might feel. Drafts in any home are not good, but in a proper barndominium they should be almost impossible. Most walls in a barndo are complete pieces of metal, so any drafts could be from improperly sealed windows or doors to the outside world.
Check for Light in Every Room
While this is not necessarily anything against the house’s construction, ensuring that the home you are buying has good light in every room is one of the best ways to get ahead with resale value. If the construction company and previous owners had been paying attention to this, there should be plenty of windows.
Most important are south-facing windows, as they let in the most light for the majority of the day. South-facing windows are extremely valuable to potential buyers.
Size of the Barndominium Lot
When determining the worth of a barndominium, the lot has to come into play. Depending on where you purchase your home, the standard size of a lot can vary. For instance, Vermont has an average lot size of 75,794 square feet (1.74 acres), while Nevada’s average lot size is 6,098 square feet (0.14 acres).
If your barndominium is in a sought after area with an above-average lot size, that will greatly increase your home’s value.
Customization of a Barndominium
The customization of a barndominium has a huge influence on the worth and resale value of the home. Personalized designs are a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to building a barndo. First, custom designs will cost more, and second, they can potentially limit the resale value.
It’s important to find the sweet balance between a home with character and a too quirky home for the average person. People do want their home to be more interesting than a large rectangle, but they might not appreciate the personalized initials built into the master bedroom wall.
There are a few areas of your home that need to strike this balance in particular. They are areas that, when updated tastefully, add immense resale value to your barndominium, but, when overdone, actually decrease the value of the home.
While it may seem instinctive to have the best and the brightest appliances in your kitchen, going overboard can actually intimidate buyers. People love to see quality materials like stainless steel, marble, and porcelain, but they don’t like to see 8-top burners and woodfire ovens. Sure, some people would swoon over these features, but they would put off the majority of people.
It’s better to install quality, easy-to-use appliances that everyone will appreciate. This will widen your buyer pool, and therefore, your asking price.
You might think that installing epic landscaping to your barndominium will add thousands onto your property value, but often, the opposite is true. Buyers do love to see neatly kept lawns and shrubs that enhance the land’s natural aesthetic, but they don’t love to see elaborate features that will cost hundreds to maintain.
Even pools can be a bit of a gamble when it comes to selling your home. Unless you’re in an area where pools are extremely sought after features of a home, you may find that potential buyers actually avoid properties with pools. This is not only because of the cost to upkeep and run a pool. But also because of the safety hazards.
Families with young children may be especially wary of in-ground pools. If you have a pool, you may invest in a nice fence to go around the pool before you begin to show the home. This could put young families at ease when seeing the property.
Some of the landscaping features you may want to avoid are:
- Koi ponds
- Statues and fountains
- Complicated plants
- Overly bright security lights
While this may seem like a lot of things on the “don’t” list, there are plenty of outdoor features you can add that will allow you to enjoy your home and add resale value to future buyers:
- Nicely manicured lawn
- Plants appropriate for the climate zone
- Wood or concrete deck space
- Sitting area
- Fireplace (especially direct gas line)
- Barbeque area
- Outdoor dining
- Elegant lighting
As with most things, there are no hard rules that you need to follow with landscaping and your barndominium. Ultimately, it’s up to you if you’d like to add a winding pathway that crosses bridges, koi ponds, and waterfalls. The potential hit to your resale value might be worth it for you to enjoy your home to the fullest while you live there.
Just make sure you’re hiring a professional so that the landscaping lasts.
Extra Rooms and Features
One of the things that has drawn so many people to barndominiums is that you have the space to add in a room for nearly anything you need. This is a great reselling feature as well, but only if you don’t customize the extra rooms too much.
Creating a large space that could potentially be used as a home gym, wine cellar, or music studio is an attractive idea, but over-personalizing these rooms is detrimental to the resale value of your barndo.
The resale value of barndominiums seems to be solid and rising. With more and more barndos being created, we have more comparable homes on the market to justify list prices. High-quality builders contribute to the positive opinion of barndominiums, and the green movement is also on the barndo’s side.
If you purchase a barndo that sits on a valuable plot of land, chances are your property will have a high resale value regardless of what type of building is there. However, the resale value of anything is not guaranteed, and this includes barndominiums.
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- Zillow: Barndominiums For Sale in Texas
- NY Times: Location, Location, Location
- Walk Score: Cities and Neighborhoods
- Houzz: Deal/Rhodes
- UBC: How to measure and calculate residential square footage
- Forbes: 12 Interior Design Trends We’ll See in 2020
- Kiplinger: 11 Home Features Today’s Buyers Want Most
- Energy Star: Benefits of ENERGY STAR Qualified Windows, Doors, and Skylights
- Architecture Lab: The Rise of Barndominiums
- Barndominium Life: Barndominium Cost VS House
- Richard’s Mortgage Group: Financing Modular, Manufactured, Mobile and RTM Homes
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- Wikipedia: Home Inspection
- Wikipedia: Appraiser
- Realtor: Lighting Tips to Sell Your Home
- Home Advisor: The United States Ranked by Yard Size
- Business Insider: Wealthy people are decking out their homes with underground basketball courts and $500,000 panic rooms, but there’s a hidden danger in the trend of customization
- Zillow: 349 Martha Dr, Buda, TX 78610
- Zillow: 407 East St, Buda, TX 78610
- Investopedia: McMansion- A Closer Look at the Big House Trend