For sure, the choice of style is a matter of taste, but your agent is guiding you well based on my experience. In this part of the country (NE), the absence of a basement is a tough sell. I marketed a beautiful home with a crawl space and this was our biggest obstacle and in the end, affected the price and the time to sell.
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So the anwser to whether a basement adds value yes! if it is dry and mold free!
A split level home has more than 2 level living areas.
From the front door... A lower level 2 or 3 steps down with a family room and maybe a bedroom and bath this is not a basement, not below grade, maybe partially below grade....
AND a living area just above grade level 2 or 3 steps up with kitchen living room dining...
AND usually another higher level 3-5 steps up again with additional bedrooms and bath.
Many splits also have a basement under the upper grade levels, usually entered from the lower grade level living area A split is exactly as it sounds split levels of living. Some modern styles have really designed some nice planning. Older styles provide larger feels to a traditional colonial because of the stairs and the choppy floor plan.
Basements will usually add value to any home, any style, as long as it is usuable space whether now or the future. If it leaks or has lots of mositure it is difficult for it to become useful, not even as storage. Every house will be different because of it's characteristics. You will almost always sense mositure in a home. Look around see if there is a dehumidfier around. Even if it's unplugged it may give you a question to ask why they have it? Also important is to make sure a finished basement has a vapor barrier behind any sheet rock. A home inspection should indicate this, be alert some home inspection will not be able to discover the vapro barrier because of the finished walls and their inability to see behind the finished walls. Vapor barriers will greatly reduce mositure and mold.
Use you best judgements. Feel free to contact me anytime at your convenience with any questions.
Therefore, you can get almost anything you like with a split, if you look hard enough. Some have garages; others have the garage converted into another room. The problem with ANY type except the two story colonial is that they are all out of favor. You still see a few very large capes built but usually they have extensive dormers and, inside are more like the two story colonial. Not current in style equals older models not selling as well or appreciating as fast.
Basements: If you need extra space or think you will, a basement can be an overflow space. On older houses be sure that there is adequate headroom for a ceiling, if you intend to finish the space. If you want or need space for power tools, lower headroom is ok, unless you are very tall yourself. Basements also need access and an outside entry with a Bilco door is almost a must. Built on the side of a hill, you can even find a basement with ground level access on one side. All rooms below grade suffer from smaller windows and less light, even the Bi-levels. If they only have the small basement size windows, fire codes will no longer allow finishing them into living space. The fire department wants to get in with a Scott Pack if there's trouble.
The last thing to look for in below grade rooms, finished or not, is moisture, as in up to your knees when it rains moisture. They are always damp and in the winter, cold. Bi-levels often have bedrooms for the kids down in the depths. Parents exiling their kids to them have been known to end up as fodder for a Stephen King novel. Some can be reasonably dry but a cleaver eye for detail should let you figure it out. Cardboard cartons that have been on the floor for years and still show no watermarks, for example. Honest, I once showed an old house that had stepping stones in the basement. It was permanently flooded! One I listed and sold had two sump pumps that would have been the envy of most municipal water systems; they kept the place dry but the roar when they ran was industrial. I've shown houses from North of Flemington in Hunterdon to Moorestown and in Bucks County, PA and there is no area that has only good ones, so be selective.
Lots of Luck.
When you walk into a split you are usually on the floor with the kitchen, living room and maybe a dining room. Go up a half flight of stairs and you are at the 3 bedrooms and at least 1 full bath. If you go down a half flight of stairs you usually go to a family room (unless the guy in the house turned it into a bar) and maybe a laundry room and a half bath. Not many splits have been built in the last 25 years. The used to be much more popular. There are thousands in the area that are 30-40 years old. There isn't any 'with' and 'without' basement in a split.
A basement adds value to a colonial. You can't really compare a split and a colonial in that way unless you are looking at square footage. Apples and Oranges.
You pose an interesting question regarding relative value of a split level home to a colonial on slab (ie no basement)...that is a tough one because as the prior responder commented a split level has appeal to some but not all. Colonials are the most popular style home, but the absence of a basement is a real detraction.
Bottom line is this - it depends on your preference and also the style that is common within the community of choice. Some communities developed during the bilevel/split days and so there are many homes of that style and for people drawn to the community, the common style will be more accepted along with the turf.
But in a flat out contest between splits/bilevels and colonials, colonials win. In a contest of a home with a basement or one without, the one with a basement carries the day.
Good luck to you. Incidentally, it is a great time to buy - find a home you like and go for it!
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