Finding the Perfect House ~ First-time homebuyers should keep expectations low and acceptance levels high.
After living in an apartment, a rented house, a dorm or your parents’ house, you decide the time is right to take the plunge and buy your first house. As a first-time homebuyer, the prospect of owning a house can seem both delightful and daunting. On one hand, everyone’s told you of the financial benefits of home ownership; on the other hand, you’ll be taking on the largest financial responsibility of your life.
So of course, you want to find the perfect house, one that will make all the headaches and sacrifices worthwhile. Even if you believe that this is just the first of many homes you will own in your lifetime, it’s rewarding to think you’ve found the right place to start.
The Ideal House
The perfect house by definition meets all of your expectations. In reality, you may have to compromise on a few things. At the same time, buying your first home doesn’t necessarily mean settling for a hovel that you plan to leave in a year or two. As first-time homebuyers, you should stay in your first house anywhere from seven to 10 years, both to build equity and show stability.
But “starter homes” aren’t always easy to find or identify. And you can expect some competition — close to 30 percent of the real estate market consists of first-time homebuyers, according to the National Association of Realtors. In 2016, those numbers are expected to rise even more as millennials begin to hit the market.
First-time homebuyers don’t need to look for fancy game rooms (on one end) or dilapidated fixer-uppers (on the other). Instead, protect yourself by ensuring that your first home has at least:
- An affordable price tag. Take into consideration your work stability and other financial obligations. Forfeiting on your first mortgage will spell disaster for your credit rating.
- A location that suits your needs. Consider your commute to work, distance to schools, shopping and other regular activities. If you move too far away from your extended family and friends, your relationships may change.
- Enough size and space for you to live in and grow with for the next 10 years.
- Recent updates on key rooms in the house — such as the bathrooms, kitchen or roof.
- A written history of proper maintenance from the sellers.
Once you’ve satisfied the minimum basic requirements as a first-time homebuyer, begin to look for additional perks that can make your first home just right. Look for:
- The layout of the kitchen and other rooms. Open floor plans, for example, are very trendy and useful for families.
- New appliances, and not just in the kitchen. Ask about the age of the water heater and furnace.
- An extra bedroom, even if it’s small.
- A great neighborhood that makes you feel comfortable.
- A landscaped yard means that the previous owners cared how the place looked.
And, if you’re really lucky, you may find a great home within your budget with cool amenities that would make it difficult for you to ever leave, like:
- Swimming pool
- Built-in sound system
- Large living room
- Finished basement
- Up-and-coming neighborhood
Remember, first-time homebuyers often have to sacrifice something. Consider your options, and then jump at the house that comes closest to your idea of perfection.