What to Look for in a Starter Home

If you think you are ready to buy your first home, you must be so excited! Before you start shopping for a home, you should know what to look for in a starter home. We think it’s a good idea to write down a list of the ‘must-haves’ and the ‘optional’ features you need/want in a home. This way when you shop for a home, you can keep a clear mind rather than falling in love with a home you may not be able to afford or that doesn’t meet your required features.

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We know that shopping for a home can be an emotional time. It’s so easy to fall in love at first sight with a home that really doesn’t meet your needs but that has some feature that really drew you in. Keep reading to see what you should look for in your starter home.

What Type of Home do you Want?

You’ll first want to decide what type of home you want to buy. Do you prefer to have your own land and to maintain your own yard? Do you want to be able to do what you want with a home rather than getting approval?

If this is the case, then you may want to stick to single-family homes rather than condos or townhomes. Condos and townhomes are units that you buy within a shared community. You only have a say on what you do the inside of your unit, not the exterior. If you don’t see yourself being comfortable living in such close vicinity to your neighbors, the single-family home should be at the top of your list. If you are okay with living close to others and will enjoy not having to maintain the exterior of your property, you may want to focus on condos and townhomes.

What are Your Future Plans?

Even though this is your starter home, you may be there longer than you think. Many couples start out thinking they will buy a home for two years and then move on up, but that doesn’t always happen. It’s wise to think of the next five to ten years to figure out what type of starter home will suit you.

For example, are you married now? If so, will you have kids in the next few years? It may happen sooner than you think, so it’s best to be prepared. You’ll want to buy a home with at least one extra bedroom, if not two so that you have room to grow your family.

If you aren’t married now, do you see yourself getting married in the next few years? If you so much as have the desire to get married in the near future, it makes sense to buy a home that would be big enough to accommodate you and your spouse and potentially a baby or two.

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If you end up able to move after a few years, then consider yourself lucky. If you can’t move, though, you can at least know that you have room in your home for your family to grow.

What Can you Afford?

You are probably already thinking about how much mortgage you can afford. That’s a good start. But owning a home means more than paying the mortgage. You also have to pay real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance, utilities, and maintenance.

Think about what you can afford looking at the big picture. If the mortgage payment you were quoted will make you cut it real close each month, you’ll want to find a less expensive home. You should figure at least 1% of the home’s value for maintenance costs, plus the cost of real estate taxes, insurance, and utilities in the area.

If you are unsure about the cost of these things in your area, ask around. You can ask realtors, the seller of the home you want to buy, or your real estate attorney. One or all of them can give you a ballpark figure of the cost of taxes, insurance, and utilities for a home your size. This way you can look at the costs plus the cost of the new mortgage to see how it fits within your budget.

What do You Want?

Finally, it’s time to consider what you want. You know what you need, now what would make your starter home perfect?

Is it a fireplace, an office, a large kitchen, or something else? Make a list in order of the features you would love to have. You never know when you shop around for a starter home when you’ll be lucky enough to find one with a few more features than you would have thought you’d get with a starter home.

The most important thing is that you love the home, the area, and the amount the home will cost you each month. You don’t want to have buyer’s remorse. Instead, you want a home that you will cherish as your first home.

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