In this Post: Starter Home Tips is your guide to becoming a first-time homebuyer! Your first home is closer than you think!
Most people want a big, beautiful, palatial home that fulfills all of their needs and desires. But unfortunately, given the current economy and the challenges facing many 20- and 30-somethings, this is rarely possible.
Many are deciding to forego purchasing their dream home and are instead buying a starter home while trying to squirrel away more money, improve their credit, and ultimately, end up living in the house of their dreams. But that doesn’t mean your starter home shouldn’t make you happy! In fact, there are a number of things you can do to help ensure you end up with a starter home you love.
We’ll share some starter home tips and tricks below so that you can achieve domestic bliss.
Starter Home Tips:
The Perks of Home Ownership
Before we talk about some of the things you can do to make your starter home the best it can possibly be, it’s important to understand some of the benefits a starter home will provide.
Buying a Starter Home Helps You Build Equity
Buying your starter home will allow you to start building equity. Equity is essentially the percentage of the house you own.
In other words, if your home’s purchase price was $300,000, but you made a $30,000 down payment, you would have 10 percent equity in the home right off the bat. The bank, on the other hand, will own the remaining 90 percent of the home.
The amount of equity you own will go up every time you make a mortgage payment, as well as anytime the home increases in value — something that can happen much quicker than you’d think. In fact, the average U.S. homeowner gained approximately $9,700 in equity between the fourth quarter of 2017 and the fourth quarter of 2018.
This is all a fancy way of saying that — over time — your home will help you generate more wealth, which is one of the most important benefits starter homes provide.
Buying a Starter Home Means That You’re Not Throwing Away Money on Rent
Many people feel that renting a home is throwing money right down the toilet. For that reason alone, they choose to invest their hard-earned dollars in a property that will appreciate in value. And understandably so! The more valuable your home becomes in the market, the more you’ll get if you decide to sell it down the road.
People also go with a starter home to save money. With a mortgage, you are likely to have a lower monthly bill than if you were to rent. While you could use those savings to pad your savings account, many people choose to make additional payments to their monthly mortgage. The more you pay on top of your bill, the less interest you will end up paying throughout the life of the loan.
Buying a Home May Help Improve Your Credit
When you first purchase your starter home, you will notice an initial drop in your credit score. But don’t fret! This is completely normal and happens to us all. But eventually, you will start seeing your credit improve. If you make your payments on time, it won’t be long until your credit score is even higher than before you applied for your mortgage.
In this day and age, so much of what we do is connected to the state of our credit. This goes for renting, too. So, if you are debating between renting and buying, remember this: Many rental agencies only report to the credit bureaus if you’ve made delinquent payments or have been evicted. Each payment you make on a mortgage, however, actually helps to improve your credit.
Buying a Home Means You Won’t Have to Deal with Landlords
Dealing with landlords can be frustrating when something breaks. You could end up calling numerous times, and if your landlord is slow at responding, you may just have to sit and wait for days. Who wants to sit in their home with no air conditioning in the middle of summer? Not me. No, thank you.
You may also want to make upgrades to your rental, and if your landlord won’t allow changes to the home, you have to abide by his rules. Owning your home means you have free rein to make changes as you see fit.
There are pros to having a landlord, though. If you are renting and your air conditioning unit breaks (or one of many other things), the landlord is responsible for the cost of having it repaired or replaced. That can be a pretty hefty bill, so it’s worth considering when making your decision.
On the flip side, when you own your home, you are on the hook for anything that goes wrong. There are some supplemental insurance policies you can purchase on top of your homeowner’s insurance, so do some shopping to find the right one for you. It could save you big bucks down the road.
Picking Out the Right Starter Home: Points to Ponder
When picking out your starter home, there are many things to take into consideration. We all have different ideas of what we want. I recommend making a list of all the things you are willing to compromise, and then decide on your “non-negotiables.” Really spend the time to anticipate what your needs may be – whether it’s now or down the road.
Be Realistic About Your Budget
So, you’ve found your perfect starter home. Great! Before making your purchase, figure out how much you can realistically commit to paying every month. Remember, this is only one of the recurring bills you’ll be paying. So, give yourself plenty of wiggle room, and look up ways to save on your cable, phone, and utility bills, among other things.
Location, Location, Location
If you’re not a fan of long commutes (I mean, who is?), then you’ll want to find a starter home that’s within a reasonable distance of work. You may even find a place that’s slightly more expensive yet closer to work, but when you factor in gas money and the time you’ll be spending in your car, dropping those few extra dollars might be worth it. But as we mentioned before, make sure you’ve thought this through when figuring out your budget.
How Long Will the Home Last for You?
While some want to find a starter home to live in for a few years, others want one that’ll last longer. So, ask yourself the big questions.
- Are you planning on starting a family in your new starter home?
- Do you want to take five years or more to build your credit and equity before selling it?
- What are your immediate and long-term goals with your career?
- Have you researched enough starter home tips to feel prepared to make a large investment?
- Do you plan on moving out of the city or state at any point?
Just be sure to do yourself a favor and figure out the answers to these questions before making your purchase.
Making the Most of Your Space: Starter Home Tips & Tricks
Once you’ve purchased your starter home, it’s time to get to work transforming it into your dream home! Below, we’ll share a couple of tips to help you turn your new domicile into the house of your dreams.
Liven Up Your Space with Live Plants
Live plants will instantly turn any home from a cold and uninviting space into a lush and luxurious home. But you can’t just pick any plants though — you have to pick ones that’ll grow well in the light you have available (you can’t put a sun-loving shrub in a dim room with no windows). You also want to pick plants that appeal to your aesthetic tastes.
However, there’s one more thing to think about: the plant’s growth rate. Specifically, you want to pick plants that grow quickly. Don’t spend the first few years in your starter home waiting for pathetic little saplings to grow a few inches — pick ones that’ll fill out in a matter of weeks or months.
Don’t Forget to Keep Your Home Secure
When thinking about your starter home tips, don’t forget about security! Your personal safety is obviously paramount, but you’ll also want to be sure your home is protected from burglars and others who may commit property crimes. Unlike rentals, your home is your owned property and you are responsible for its upkeep.
In addition to a standard alarm system, a good set of motion sensor lights will help keep your home safe. Most criminals prefer to operate under the cloak of darkness, but motion-detecting lights will make that impossible. As a nifty bonus, motion detecting lights will make your life easier, as you’ll enjoy more light when trying to enter your home after dark.
Make Walls that Wow!
When you walk into someone’s home, what is the first thing you see? Furniture? Maybe. Color scheme? Possibly. How well lit the room is? Sure. But after you’ve been given the initial “tour,” and you’re sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee or a cocktail, that’s when you really get a good look around.
What people put on their walls tells so much about who they are. So, embrace and express yourself by adding to your home in the most honest way you can. “Wow,” your dinner guests and friends by taking them on a creative journey that you, and you alone, have designed.
We hope that the starter home tips and tricks we’ve shared will help you during your home-buying journey, as well as when you begin decorating your new house and turning it into a true home. Try to employ as many of these strategies as you can, but don’t hesitate to alter our suggestions to suit your specific circumstances.
Every home, homebuyer, and situation is unique. Just trust your instincts and try to learn as much as you can about the home-buying and home-decorating processes. Before you know it, you’ll have transformed your first starter home into something that’s not too far from the home of your dreams!