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10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Starter Home

10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Starter Home

House size matters, but maybe not in the way you think. Bigger isn’t always better, and if it’s too small, frustrations can add up. Choose wisely by taking stock before you bid on your first home with these 10 thought provokers.

1. House vs. Budget

Talk to REALTORS® who know your market. Banks have tightened their lending in the past few years, so you may not really know what you can swing until you get pre-approved. If you don’t have kids but want them, expect your finances to tighten when you do. Many homeowners recommend buying less house than you can afford, to leave some budgetary breathing room.

2. Resale Value

That 1.5 bathroom place might seem like a steal, but there may be a reason—perhaps anything less than two bathrooms doesn’t sell well in your area, so you could struggle with resale value. Or maybe you’re just lucky and it’s absolutely worthwhile. Knowing what sizes hold their value can help guide your decisions. REALTORS® can help here too.

3. Hobbies

A gamer, a knitter, a woodworker, a writer … what keeps you happy? If these hobbies have the potential to bother a partner (say, a gamer who likes the action loud) then a bonus room might be a good idea.

4. Outdoor Space

A garden or lawn may be part of your dream, but be realistic about maintenance. Who will mow and trim, or can you afford a service?

5. Future Needs

Kids, an aging parent, that dog rescue you’ve always dreamed of starting…. What’s your 5-year plan? Your 10-year plan? The market vagaries of the past few years have made it harder than ever to upgrade starter homes in many markets, so it might be better to skip the “starter” part, especially if you’re focused on a specific area. With volatile markets, you may end up in your starter home longer than planned.

6. Flexibility

Right now it’s just two of you and a hobby room, but can that hobby room turn into a bedroom or playroom? Can the attic become a home office? Having some extra space, if you can afford it, gives you room to change and grow under one roof.

7. Space for All

As one North Carolina homeowner we talked to put it, “Space for me, space for you, space for ‘us’.” A home should encompass all your needs so everyone isn’t living on top of each other, all the time (with apologies to New Yorkers, of course—we feel for you).

8. Be Realistic

If you order take-out most nights, don’t pay extra for a chef’s kitchen just because it looks pretty. That’s a pretty price for looks. Conversely, if you have a king-sized bed, don’t skimp on a small master bedroom.

9. Skip Space for Space’s Sake

As humans, we tend to expand to fill our living space. If you buy huge but don’t really need that bonus square footage, you could end up living with more than you ever needed. Plus, you’ll have to furnish it all.

10. Ponder Storage

Don’t mock closet space or built-ins that will house Aunt Lil’s china. Will the home accommodate all you bring to it? If the house seems a little cramped to begin with, that feeling will probably get worse.


Courtesy of Ann Miller on

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