First off, if you’re in the market for your first home, we want to be the first to tell you congratulations! This is a huge step in one’s life, making one of your most important (and biggest) purchases. What should you look for in your starter home? Many first-time buyers have dreamt of specific elements they want in their first home, such as an updated kitchen and wood floors. But, upon searching, they may find that these features are unrealistic in terms of what they can afford. So what should one be looking for?

Reaching out to a professional realtor is a great place to start. This can be so valuable to first-time homebuyers, as we know our market areas inside and out, and know how to find you the best value in your budget. Additionally, as first-timers, we can walk you through the entire home buying process, and help out with negotiations to make sure you’re really getting the most bang for your buck.

And let’s not forget the gap between what you may be looking for in a home now, versus what you’ll need in a home later on down the road, as your family and lifestyles start to grow and change. Without guidance, some shoppers will make a decision that is too focused on their current desires (whether this be style, location or lower price), rather than what they’ll need in the future, like extra space and ample functionality. 

Our number one piece of advice to first time buyers is to lead with logic rather than emotion. Yes, it can be hard to turn down that home with a front porch, granite countertops and a soaking tub. But, odds are in the long run you’ll be much happier with a home that provides you extra space, and fits comfortably within your budget (dream of low mortgage payments instead!)

But how do you know what you can afford? In general, the rule of thumb says that if you have the capacity to repay the mortgage, you can afford a single-family house that costs up to two and one-half times your annual gross income. However, this can change depending on your comfort zone, needs, and future plans. If you know you won’t be in this home for 10 or more years, opt for a less expensive option. But if you think this could be your forever home, you may find room in your budget to splurge. For more specific guidance and information, check out the “What Can I Afford” cheat sheet on our website! 

Have more questions? We are more than happy to help. Reach out to our team, and we’ll help you on your journey to finding your perfect starter home today!