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For Sale by Owner Articles • - Tips for Buying a FSBO Home

Upstairs, Downstairs: Should You Buy a Two-Story Home?

By Marcie Geffner
Two-story homes are definitely appealing to many home shoppers. After all, a two-story home has double the living space on the same amount of land and, consequently, can be attractively priced compared with a double-wide home on a much larger lot. Two-story affordable condominiums are especially appealing because single-level attached housing involves listening to your neighbors' footsteps above your ceiling, unless your unit is on the top floor of the building. Some people even say living on two stories is good for your health because you'll definitely get more exercise.
Regardless of the home's size or style, living upstairs and downstairs has some drawbacks. If you're looking at two-story homes, here are some questions to consider:
  • Does the home have at least one bathroom and sleeping area (or potential convertible sleeping area) downstairs? Even if you aren't planning on sleeping downstairs, having a downstairs bedroom and bathroom can be a lifesaver if you entertain elderly visitors or if someone in your family becomes temporarily unable to manage the stairs (e.g., while recovering from surgery).
  • Is the stairway wide and tall enough to accommodate your largest furniture? If your king-size mattress, executive desk or other large items can't be moved upstairs, they'll have to be hauled over a balcony and through an upstairs sliding door (if possible), disassembled downstairs and reassembled upstairs or even sold and replaced with smaller furniture. Expect to pay extra when you move or have furniture delivered to your second-story rooms.
  • Does the home have an intercom system? An upstairs-downstairs intercom can save you from running up and down the stairs every time you need to find and speak with your spouse, children or roommate. A second-floor to front door intercom that lets you speak to anyone outside your home is desirable too.
  • Are the laundry facilities on the same floor as the main bedrooms and bathrooms? If your clothes washer and dryer aren't on the same floor as your hampers and soiled linen, you'll have to carry every load of dirty laundry downstairs to be washed, then back upstairs to be used or stored.
  • Does the home have a hot water pumping system or is the hot water heater on the roof? If hot water has to be circulated throughout the home from the ground floor before it reaches the upstairs, you'll have a long wait and waste a lot of water every time you wash your hands or take a shower. Pumping devices eliminate the wait by constantly circulating hot water through the home's plumbing system.
  • Are you really prepared to go up and down the stairs every time you need something on the other floor? People who live in two-story homes are well familiar with the almost daily inconvenience of having left their eyeglasses, slippers, keys, address book and other personal items on the other floor.

Copyright Marcie Geffner. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author.

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