What Should You Look For In A "Starter Home"?
Buying your first home is always an exciting and frightening experience. Since you have never purchased a home before, you may not know exactly what to look for. And since you're planning on "upgrading" later on, you may not know where to compromise. Here's a few things to consider.
Avoid Any Significant Issues
When buying your first home, you want to have a new HVAC system, water heater, roof, and foundation. It's worth it to purchase a small home or even a town home if you can get all of these things. These things are very expensive to fix, and it's not an issue that you want to deal with in your first home. Get a complete home inspection and make sure all of these issues have been addressed.
Don't Go Too Expensive
Remember: if you're buying a starter home, you're not trying to get your "dream home" yet. You're trying to get into the real estate market so that your property will appreciate. Over time, you'll have more equity, and be able to trade that equity in for a larger property. Trying to get a large "starter home" might just delay the ability to get your real dream home later on. Be reasonable about your budget. A financial planner can help you.
Look for Expansion Opportunities
There are some properties that can be easily expanded. There are others that can't. Consider the layout of the property and how it sits on a lot. If a property can easily be expanded, it's possible that you could upgrade it rather than purchasing a new home. While it's not something that you need to consider, it's something that could split a tie breaker between other similar properties.
Don't Forget About HOAs
Whether you want an HOA or not, you should be aware of the bylaws and documents. One of the major things that first-time home buyers miss are the covenants and restrictions outlaid by their HOAs. Ask your real estate agent if there's anything that you need to know about the HOA in advance, such as restrictions on how you can develop out your property, or what colors you can use on the building.
A starter home doesn't really need to be a starter home: over time, it can grow with your family. Your real estate agent can point you towards properties that can expand with you, depending on your future plans.