First-Time Buyers: Think “Starter” not “Forever”

Posted by Kris Lindahl on Monday, March 16th, 2015 at 11:48am.

When you fall in love with a home – and believe me, it’s easy to do – you may envision yourself living there forever. First-time buyers are particularly susceptible to this phenomenon.

Lives change, however, and if you don’t believe me, take a minute to think about who you were, where you were, just 5 to 10 years ago. You may have switched jobs or even careers, your family may have grown – or shrunk. Your neighborhood may no longer resemble the place you moved into a decade ago.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t think about the future when you contemplate buying your first home, it’s merely  a suggestion to approach the process knowing this is your starter home and it’s one step closer to buying your forever home, down the line.

Starter Home Benefits

Once you decide that you’ll be looking for a stepping stone on your path to your forever home, the whole home-search process becomes less intimidating. So many first-time buyers get all stressed out, afraid they’ll make a mistake when they choose a home.

Since you won’t be living in it forever, who cares? All that matters is that the home meets your immediate needs and has some features you’ve been longing for. Another bonus is that, with lower expectations, you’ll most likely spend less.

You might even want to consider a fixer – located in the right neighborhoods these homes can warp-speed your equity buildup. FHA has an amazing loan program for folks that want to buy and then live in a fixer. It rolls the cost of the rehab into the loan so you’ll have only one payment. And payments don’t start until you actually move into the rehabbed home. It’s called the FHA 203k and Team Lindahl is happy to help you learn more about it.

There are some drawbacks to purchasing a starter home. If you plan on adding to your family you may quickly outgrow the home. Also, if you move shortly after making renovations to the home you may not recoup the cost of the renovation.

If you’re on a tight budget, as most first-time homebuyers are, make it easy on yourself by getting clear on the fact that you won’t be buying the dream home – that comes later on.

With this attitude you can look at the home as more of an investment. Shop for it like an investor – choose the least expensive home in a great neighborhood instead of the best home in a crummy neighborhood. Choose a home in a quality school district. Do whatever research you can before deciding to put an offer in a house to ensure its resale value will help you down the road to the forever home.


Image: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy “Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House” 1948 by RKO radio pictures Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

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