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Tips for Finding a First Home - Counselor Realty

What an exciting time! You're ready to buy your first home from among Bemidji homes for sale or Brainerd homes for sale. But it can also be a bit scary.

As you contemplate shopping for a home, you no doubt think of all the amenities you'd like to have—swimming pool, garage, and three bathrooms. But if you're starting out in life, you may want to rethink all those extras and focus on what you can afford. Affordability should come first when considering what could likely be called a starter home.

Starter homes are not usually forever homes. In general, homeowners plan to keep a starter home well-maintained and perhaps improved with some minor fixes. The homeowner might stay for at least five years or more while saving and planning for a home with more dream amenities. A starter home can be a small home, townhome, or condominium. 

There can be some pitfalls involved with buying a starter home. Before you even start looking, get your finances in order. Things to consider include your credit score, amount of debt, and monthly income. You should be financially healthy enough for a mortgage lender to consider you for a loan. Also, you don't want to buy a house that will cripple you financially.

Enlisting the services of an experienced real estate agent who knows our region can help you find the right starter home for your situation. In the meantime, here are some tips from the pros.

  1. Look for a home you can afford.
    When you get approved for a loan, don't rush to buy a property that costs the maximum you can get for a loan, or you'll be paying house payments and unable to afford anything else. Consider that in addition to the cost of the home, you will have property taxes, homeowners insurance, closing costs, and an upfront down payment to guarantee a mortgage loan. Depending on upgrades the property might need, you might also have homeowners association fees and other monthly payments, not to mention renovation costs.

  2. Assess the home's potential.
    A turnkey home will likely be more expensive than a fixer-upper. While you probably don't want an extreme fixer-upper unless you've got great construction skills, tackling small and economical home improvements shouldn't be out of most people's abilities. Look for a house in your price range with good structure. You can upgrade outdated cosmetic features. The house could then have a higher resale value. 

  3. Consider the location.
    Consider other factors as you look beyond what you want inside the home: distance from work, schools, and other necessary venues, and proximity to friends and family. You don't want to increase expenses for commuting, nor do you want the emotional expense of not seeing friends and family as much.

  4. Plan for what you will want in five or 10 years.
    Most of us don't look that far ahead, but it's worth considering where you think you want to go in the future. Will you have children or pets by then? Will this house suffice, or will you need to move? Will you want to leave that condominium home for a place with more privacy? It doesn't hurt to think about long-range plans when you're buying your starter home: will it be someplace you won't mind living in for more than a few years, or is the plan to fix it up and sell it so you can get a bigger place?

Have questions about buying a starter home? Call us today. 

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