When you picture a typical starter home, there’s a good chance you envision a small home with peeling paint and precious little breathing room. Young homebuyers typically have to compromise because of lack of funds and experience.
But when they address the definition of a starter home, the property managers at Green Residential say: “It’s a home that fits your budget, meets your basic needs, and will likely appreciate in the next five years. Sometimes it might be a property that requires a lot of DIY work; in other cases, it could be a home that’s small but in perfect condition. The most important thing to know is that you’ll probably have to go without a number of items on your ‘forever home’ list if you choose a starter home.”
Everyone expects their first home to be less than fabulous, but does that have to be the case? Just because you don’t have a lot of money and you’re expecting something small, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a property you don’t love.
As you look into the purchase of your first starter home, here are several things you should keep in mind.
Work with Your Budget
Arguably, the most important step in choosing a great starter home is working within the confines of your budget. This can be a challenge, but it’s not so much if you try not to view your budget as a limitation.
Instead, think of it as an open window to possibilities. Filter your searches to show only houses that fall within your budget. If you don’t waste time perusing homes with grandeur, you’re less likely to feel like the home you choose is lacking.
It will boost the positives of any property and help you feel more satisfied with your decision.
Shop by Location
Location will always be equity in real estate. Liz Gray of HGTV recommends profiling your perfect neighborhood. “Think about what you’re really looking for in a new neighborhood,” she says. “Remember, you’ll probably have to make compromises, so put the ‘must-haves’ at the top and the ‘would-like-to-haves’ at the bottom.”
Important aspects to consider include good schools, proximity to work, great amenities, nearby entertainment venues, and anything else that’s important to you and your family. A great location gives you the freedom to live your life, even if the home you buy isn’t your dream property.
Consider the Condition
Don’t worry if the design isn’t exactly what you’ve always desired. Not everyone can have granite countertops and slate tile floors.
Instead, pay close attention to the condition of the home. If it’s in good shape structurally, you’ll have fewer problems to deal with down the road.
Have a home inspector canvas the property carefully. Go with the inspector and take detailed notes. The auditor will share the potential problems with you and give you an estimate on how much it will cost to deal with the issues.
If the inspection passes, you know you can handle the upkeep of the property.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Things such as curb appeal, paint colors, and the size of your home are non-issues with your first home. A starter home is just that: a new start.
It’s fairly easy to make upgrades as time goes on, including landscaping, fresh coats of paint, and additional square footage. It may not come immediately, but great things come to those who wait.
What’s most important is recognizing what’s easy to change and what will take more work. “First-time homebuyers often have no experience renovating homes,” says Teresa Mears, contributor to Money.com. “So they don’t realize what features and finishes are easy and inexpensive to change and what is likely to become a major project. Real-estate agents and home inspectors can provide insight on these topics, and you can also do your own research.”
Don’t skip over any of these items. A new home is not something to be taken lightly, and you may find that these suggestions make the difference between a home you love and a home you’re stuck with.