For many people, buying their first home is the biggest step into their transition from ‘kid’ to fully fledged adult. And as it is both a big transition in terms of lifestyle and financial obligation there are very few first time buyers who make the leap straight from rented downtown studio to suburban four bedroom Colonial. Instead, they begin their lives as homeowners with what is universally known as a starter home.
Starter homes are purchased as ‘transitional dwellings’. Few who buy them intend to own them for good, they do plan to ‘upgrade’ in the future. Instead they are a great place to put down some roots while their career progresses, or for living their lives as part of a couple before taking the next step in life and starting a family.
Price is often a big consideration when buying a starter home, but it shouldn’t be the only one. This is, after all, going to be your home for some time, even if the plan is to move on within x number of years. Here’s a look at some of the other things home buyers should look for when choosing the perfect starter home for them.
Location – Location is always a part of the equation for home buyers, and in the case of those buying a property as a starter home it can be especially important as they do want to try and ensure that when they are ready to sell it won’t be too much of a struggle to do so and they can get a good return on their investment.
ROI is not the only reason location is paramount though. You should like the location for more practical purposes as well – like having great restaurants and entertainments around, or the fact that it offers a quick commute to the office – as you are going to be spending several years at least in the place and it will be a home as well as a sound investment in your future.
Budget Sensibly – When buying your first home you should make as sure as possible that you can afford it right now and resist the temptation to go over budget based on the assumption that things will ‘get easier’ when you get a promotion in year or two. For most the years spent in a starter home are supposed to be a little more carefree and that won’t be the case if you have to struggle to pay the mortgage every month.
This is also the time when you need to establish a great payment record with your mortgage provider, as that will help a great deal when you are ready to transition to your next home and will probably be seeking a larger loan to help pay for it.
An Easy Lifestyle Transition – If you have spent the last few years living in a lively, bustling area making a sudden move to a home where instead of hearing the muffled sounds of the city at night all you are hearing is crickets can be very jarring. As can having to get in your car and drive ten minutes to grab a coffee when you are used to being able to pop out for a latter down the street whenever you like. So often your starter home should be in an area that is perhaps a little quieter than you have become accustomed to but is not so secluded that living there will send you stir crazy.
Reasonable Maintenance Responsibilities – If you are a rather handy person, or you have handy people around you (Mum or Dad perhaps) a ‘fixer-upper’ – or at least a place that does need a little work – can be a viable way for first time buyers to get a little more home than they thought they could afford, which also may offer a better ROI at selling time.
The key here though is to be honest with yourself about what you really have the time, money and skills to do. If you work 8-9 hours a day, five days a week will you really have the time to do what needs to be done and still have a life? Or will you end up having to pay someone else to do it and spend more than you expected to do so, cutting into your potential profit margin?
These are just a few of the considerations to keep top of mind when shopping for a first home, there are many others. The good news for inexperienced first time homebuyers though is that you don’t have to go it all alone. An experienced real estate agent knows all about the challenges that are unique to this kind of transaction and if you work with one they’ll be there to help you every step of the way.