When people think about their first home, rarely do they think about small rooms, little closet space or a yard that barely has room for some lawn chairs. But for those who want to buy their first home, especially millennials just starting in their careers, sometimes they need to realize that their dream house is probably not going to be the first house they buy.
Starter homes should not be considered “bad” though, and many of these homes have great character and provide people with that same great feeling of being a homeowner. After all, the idea of finally buying a home is to gain that independence and call something your own.
By buying a starter home, you will be on the road to establishing credit, which will be helpful when you’re ready to move on to your next home. It’s also a good way to see if you enjoy living in a particular neighborhood or city.
For millennials or those just married, you most likely don’t need much space yet, so it’s a great way to see if you enjoy the lifestyle that comes with living in a house. And if you’ve come from an apartment, the space will seem bigger anyway.
Keep in mind that most people who begin in a starter home usually are ready for a change in about five years, as families grow and careers become more valuable.
Here are some things to keep in mind when searching for a starter home:
- Be Realistic:
Know going in what you can afford and be wary that some of the houses you see may not be the size or in the condition you had hoped. You might be able to get a bigger house if you’re willing to buy one with some problems, where renovations are going to be needed. Keep in mind you’ll need money to pay for those along the way, so don’t hit the top number of what you can afford each month.
- Think Location:
Consider how close a home is to your job, family and friends, and realize that even if you find a better house somewhere else, if it’s not convenient to get to where you need to be, it might not be worth the hassle of traveling extra time. If you do have young kids, they will need pre-school and eventually will go to regular school, so look at those options as well so you know you’re in a district that you are comfortable with.
- Be Ready to Work:
Starter homes usually have some things wrong with them, so you will probably have to do some DIY projects in your home, whether it’s painting, replacing fixtures or just doing basic landscaping. This will help the house improve in value, so when you go to sell someday, you’ll be ahead of the game.
The good news is that with every mortgage payment you make, you are building equity, and that will help you with future home purchases as you get closer to your dream home. Not to say your starter home can’t become that in time. Once you’re there, don’t be surprised if your dream changes and you realize the love for your first home.