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How to Choose the Perfect Starter Home

Buying your first home can be exciting, but it can also feel like you’re going in blind. There are dozens of steps in the home buying process between that first open house and the final closing. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you weigh your options to find the best starter home for you.

AVOID PLUMBING AND ELECTRICITY RENOVATIONS

About one-third of all home buyers report actively avoiding homes with plumbing and electricity issues, and you should, too. Changing the color of a wall or replacing the carpet in new homes is extremely common, but rewiring an older home or updating plumbing can be costly and time-consuming. What’s more, if the job isn’t completed perfectly, you run the risk of losing access to clean water, your septic system, and electricity in the middle of winter or when you have guests visiting. Even if you’re not looking for new home construction, at least make sure the utilities are up-to-date.

LOCATION REALLY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING

You can change a lot of things about a house, but you can’t change its location. Even if you don’t have children, consider homes in high quality school districts or that are close to grocery stores. Practice making the commute from the house to your office, your parents’ house, and (if you are a parent) to your child’s school. Is the commute easy and safe? If you don’t have a car, is it accessible by bicycle or public transit?

PRIORITIZE NEED TO HAVE’S AND WOULD LIKE TO HAVE’S

Unless you’re able to build custom homes, it’s likely that you won’t be able to find homes for sale that meet all of your criteria. Therefore, you should always create two lists: one for needs and another for wants. You may want an old-fashioned, colonial-style home, but realistically, you know you’ll need central heating and a single-level home, which you may be more likely to find with new construction. Talk to your real estate agent about your needs and have them help you.

BUILD A BUDGET FIRST

Many home buyers will start looking at houses online “just to get a feel for what’s out there,” only to end up falling in love with a property that is way outside of their budget. To save yourself from the heartache of having to “settle” for a property that is within budget, start by determining what you’re willing to spend and don’t look beyond that price point. There are plenty of new homes that fit your qualifications without requiring you to break the bank.

If nothing else, buyers should be sure that their starter home is a good fit for them before they buy. Don’t feel pressured to make an offer before you’re ready. Taking the time to find the best house for you will make everything easier going forward.