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What to Consider Before Buying a Starter Home

Monday, June 21, 2021   /   by Chris Carozza

What to Consider Before Buying a Starter Home

Most people will change where they live multiple times during the course of their lives. We’ve moved away from the concept of buying a house and living in the same property your entire life. Some people still think that a forever home should be a thing to aspire to, and that’s perfectly fine. However, many young people are looking at the real estate market like a bunch of stepping stones. The new tactic is to get your foot in the real estate game and start with what you can afford. In this article, we will go through what to consider before buying a starter home.

Be realistic with what you can afford

When people talk about starter homes, they usually think of something modest and cheap. The idea is to buy a home that fits your current needs, but most importantly – something that you can afford. The two most important things you need to consider before buying a starter home are: how much money you have for a down payment and what kind of mortgage you will be able to take on. Try to get something that won’t leave you with huge debt you can’t pay off. That defeats the purpose of getting a starter home.

What are your needs?

Even if you aren't looking to spend too much money on a starter home, you first need to know what you are looking for. If you just browse listings by price, you might not find something that fits your needs. So before considering a particular starter home, ask yourself the following questions:

?      How many bedrooms do you need? Just get the number of rooms you need; you shouldn't spend money on space you won't use.

?      Will your family be expanding? If you plan to expand your family in the not too distant future, you might want to factor that into your calculations.

?      Do you need a home office? Many people have switched to working from home. Carefully think where you could place your work desk and home office.

?      Where would you like to live? Suburbs are a great choice for first-time homeowners and usually don't cost as much as downtown apartments. Don't pay the extra dollar for a prime location when getting a starter home.

Another general piece of advice is not to go above your needs. Getting a larger home might be tempting, but it can also be a lot more expensive. Aim for something that is rational and that you can afford right now. Also, keep in mind that you can add some of the features you might be looking for later. Don't overpay for features you don't need or that you can do for less money.

Get something you can sell later on

We advise that you start planning your exit strategy even before you purchase the home. If you are browsing the real estate market when buying, you'll have a good idea of what's popular. Try to get a property you think you'll be able to re-sell easily for a good price. Depending on how long you plan to stay in the property, the real estate market might not change that much. When buying and selling property, it's important that you figure out the perfect time to take the plunge. The best time is when it's good for you and the market as well.

Focus on home improvements that add value

You could argue that any improvement you make to the property will add value to it, and you'd be correct. However, looking at the big picture, you should focus on improvements that have a good return on investment. Take a look at the houses that are currently on the market and which features and home improvements are popular. You can adapt your starter home to fit the bill and later make good on your investment when you sell. Here are some areas of the house that usually have a good ROI:

?      Kitchens – one of the first things home buyers look at. A functional and beautiful kitchen always improves the home's overall impression.

?      Bathrooms – another big selling point for any home. Make sure that everything looks modern and clean.

?      Landscaping – doesn't cost too much and greatly helps the curb appeal of your home. Small features like porch lights and a maintained garden look great in photos.

Moving to your new home

While there are many things to consider before buying a starter home, one of the most important things is to prepare for the big day of the move. Organizing a move can be difficult, and it's one of the most stressful things about buying a home. Thankfully, there are professionals who can help you. Most experienced movers offer additional services like packing and storage, so you can let professionals take care of the most complex parts of the move.

Maintaining your home

Here's something you might not have realized if you haven't owned a home before – everything will be your responsibility. You are the one who needs to take care of any issues that arise. There is no landlord who will take care of everything for you. That shouldn't worry you, though; home maintenance isn't too hard to learn. Luckily, smaller homes, like the ones you will be looking at, are easier to clean and keep tidy. Having your home properly maintained comes with a few additional benefits:

?      It's actually cheaper to constantly do minor fixes and repairs instead of waiting for something to become a more significant problem.

?      Well-maintained homes are easier to sell, and they fetch a better price on the market.

Final thoughts

We've gone through some things you should focus on and what to consider before buying a starter home. Don't force yourself into a corner and keep your options open. They are called starter homes for a reason. While you shouldn't settle for something that doesn't fit your needs, the starter home doesn't have to be the house of your dreams either. If you take anything away from this article, it's that you need to be realistic when purchasing a starter home.

RE/MAX Right Choice
Chris Carozza
25 Crescent Street, Suite 101
Stamford, CT 06906
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