Starter Homes: What to Look For

by Mitch Curtis 08/22/2021

If you’re looking for a starter home, you probably know some of your criteria already. A starter home is a more affordable and practical stepping stone to eventually owning a larger and more expensive forever home. Even with this concept in mind, it’s hard to know what to look for. Here we’ll go over the biggest things to keep in mind when searching for the perfect starter home.

A Convenient Location

Finding a starter home in a dream home neighborhood is an excellent way to experience all an area offers. For this reason, it’s recommended that you look for a starter home in or nearby where you eventually intend to live long term. You’ll be able to judge and access local amenities and businesses, school districts, transportation and overall feel of the location while paying less. If you want to live near family, friends or your job you can experience those benefits before finding your forever home.

This also means that if you change your mind about where you want to live, you’re also in a much more flexible position to move elsewhere. A starter home is already intended as a short-term living situation, so you will be more mentally and fiscally prepared to try somewhere new.

A Stable Housing Market

Even though you’re not likely to stay in a starter home for a long time, it’s important to find one where the local housing market is healthy. Consider a property in an area where home values and sale prices have either remained steady for years or have been gradually increasing. Be wary of neighborhoods that have dropped in price—while you may score an excellent deal on a home and mortgage, lower property values mean you may not recoup the cost when you eventually sell the home.

If you’re uncertain about market trends in your desired area, consult a real estate professional for guidance. They’ll be able to point you toward a smart move so that you find the best property for your needs.

Minimal Repairs or Improvements Needed

Some people equate the idea of a starter home with a fixer-upper. While fixer-uppers can be extremely affordable, they are often far more work (and expense) than new homeowners are prepared for. If your goal is to live in a starter home while saving money for a different home in the future, the last thing you want to do is spend thousands of dollars on repairs and improvements. This will delay your longer-term goals and probably add unnecessary stress to your living situation.

To avoid this, weigh your options when considering a property with existing issues. Some are easy and inexpensive fixes that can equal a great deal, while others might leave you in the red. Steer clear of major problems like a failing roof, foundation issues or extensive mold or pest problems. These problems are not only expensive to fix but require immediate attention—there’s no putting them off for later.

Starter homes can be incredibly beneficial for many first-time homebuyers. However, avoiding some common pitfalls will ensure that you find the right starter home to help you accomplish your future goals without sacrificing your short-term quality of life.

About the Author
Author

Mitch Curtis

Hi, I'm Mitchell Curtis and I'd love to assist you. Whether you're in the research phase at the beginning of your real estate search or you know exactly what you're looking for, you'll benefit from having a real estate professional by your side. I'd be honored to put my real estate experience to work for you.