We’ve had the pleasure throughout the years of working with many first time home buyers and helping someone to find their first home is one of the most gratifying experiences as a Realtor. B It can however be a very unpleasurable experience for the home buyer if they do not know what they’re looking for. B Not knowing your budget, whether you want a fixer or a new home and other key pieces will make the searching process longer and, without a lack of clarity, can cause a standstill and keep the buyer in a perpetual search. B Realtor.com has compiled 4 key things that should be identified before you start the housing search that will make the journey a little easier and the destination a little clearer.
Have questions about this or other home buying topics? B Contact us HERE! B We know it can be a stressful process and are happy to answer any questions you may have!
Buying Your First Home? Better Make Sure It Has These 4 Things
Finding the perfect starter home is a journey as well as a destination. Youb ve got to know what you want, then adjust expectations to meet the reality of the market. In the end, you donb t have to settle on your b forever homeb b just a place youb ll call home for at least five to seven years.
But thatb s a long time in homeowner years, especially if you wake upB each day in a place you wind up hating.
b You want to buy something thatb s going to last,b saysB Carol Temple, an Arlington, VA, RealtorB. who loves helping newbies find their first home.
So how do you know whatb s going to stand the test of (a decent amount of) time? Youb ve never done this before. Youb re taking a leap of faith that you have the money, skills, and temperament to maintain the biggest purchaseB of your life so far.
We knowb itb s scary. And overwhelming. But there is a foolproofB formula to picking the right starter home.
1. Manageable monthly expenses
If youb ve been renting all your adult life, youb ll be surprised by how much owning a home actually costs. Thereb s a mortgage, real estate taxes (usually wrapped into your mortgage), insurance premiums, utilities, and the drip-drip-drip of maintenance costs. And hereb s the fun part: All these costs usually increase with time!
b New homeowners are often not aware of how expenses can add up when they own a home,b says David Reiss, who teaches real estate law at Brooklyn Law School in Brooklyn, NY.
When calculating how much you can spend on a house, figure in all these costs, and then add a little more for unexpected expenses. Like replacing LED lightbulbs at $20 a pop. Or hiring a pro to pruneB that gorgeous oak in the backyard. Or maybe replacing yourB Grand Palais rangeB that spontaneously combusted.
Make sure your final choice truly fits your budget. Got it? That may mean buying something smaller, older, or farther out than you originally intended.
2. Low maintenance
Maintenance costs are the great unknown in homeownershipb the older the house, the more it will cost to keep running. So unless you have the handyman skills and desire to fix whatever comes up, itb s better for your starter house to be newer construction (less than 10 years old).
Whether you buy a new or existing home, donb t forget to hire a good home inspector toB thoroughly identify potential problems.
b Even if the home buyers are handy, they may not want to be spending their time up on the roof looking for a leak or in the basement up to their knees in water,b Reiss says.
3. Room to grow
Your family may consist of a spouse and a golden retriever today, but even if you arenb t thinking about expanding, your nuclear unit could look vastly different in a few years. You may add a baby or two, or you may decide to help care for your elderly parents. Since you never know what the future holds, buy as much house as you can reasonably afford. Talk with your lender and get pre-approval for the largest mortgage youb ll qualify for.
b A lot of first-time buyers have self-imposed limitations,b Temple says. b Talk to a lender, and at least know what your ceiling is.b
Use that purchase power to buy space, which isB much more important than fancy finishes. You can always upgrade a drab kitchen and knock out a wall to create an open floor plan. But adding more square footageB by popping the roof or pushing out an exterior wall is extremely expensive and a major hassle.
4. Easy transition
Change is hard, and moving is particularly stressful. So donb t pick a starter home that will drop you into a totally unfamiliar lifestyle and location far away from the people and activities you love.
If you enjoy grilling with old friends on weekends, make sure your new barbecue pit isnb t hours away from your buddies who, no matter what they say, will not frequently drive the distance toB have a perfectlyB seared blood sausageB with you. If art galleries and professional theater rock your boat, donb t buy a starter house in a community that doesnb t embrace those activities.
Most of all, buy a place reasonably close to work. A daily commute is time-consuming and expensive, and will soon get old if youb re adding two or three hours to your work life. Remember this. Youb ll be glad you did.