Taking your first step into the housing market can be a daunting experience. And unfortunately, there is no cookie cutter, step by step process to make sure you’re purchasing the perfect home (actually, the perfect home doesn’t really exist). To help guide you away from some common pitfalls, I’ve listed some of the biggest mistakes that first time buyers make. Don’t be a first time seller because you regretted your decision as a first time buyer.
A bit too snug and small
If you are newlyweds or plan to start a family soon you should think twice before choosing the property that seems a bit too cozy. This place may go from cozy to cramped in no time (usually around kid #2). Even if you don’t have immediate kid plans…sometimes plans change. They may even change on “accident.” Three-bedroom homes are usually a better bet for a married couple. Even if you only have one kiddo, consider this…an extra room for crafting. An office. Or even a spare bedroom for when the in-laws drop in.
On the other end of the spectrum is a much-too-big home. A six-bedroom house will offer plenty of space for guests and future family expansion, but you’re probably paying way more money than you need to live comfortably. I just toured a home for sale in Colorado Springs. Single guy. Six bedrooms. Really!? Maybe he wasn’t a first time home buyer. But seriously, unless your super rich, consider a size-appropriate place. You’ll save money and time…who wants to clean a huge house!
First time buyers may be tempted to buy a property in need of some “tender loving care.” There are plenty of HGTV shows that glamorize the transformation of a home from dump to cozy cottage. Ask yourself first…”do I have the time, inclination, and MONEY.” If you can realistically fix up a new place within a reasonable budget and time frame, with simple upgrades, you may have found the right project house for you. But, if you spot several big jobs that may need a major overhaul, maybe you should avoid the money pit.
The free time killer
Does your prospective new home have any luxurious special features that will require lots of maintenance or upkeep? Swimming pools, hot tubs, large front and back gardens…these all require lots of time and considerable expense to maintain. Are you happy to spend your free time and cash maintaining the idyllic appearance and features of your home? If not, then you should find something more manageable.
Thinking of your new home as a business investment
Most first time buyer’s want to enjoy their new living space for a few years, maybe make a few improvements, sell their home for a handsome profit, and buy an even better second home. But treating your first residential property as an investment opportunity, rather than a home to live in, can backfire. Sometimes you can make endless home improvements that just don’t resonate with the next potential buyer. And due to external factors, house prices don’t always rise and you are left with very little control over the value of your property. If you are thinking of your first property as an investment, and are more concerned more by a home’s resale value than you are by its suitability as a living space, you should study the market thoroughly before making any decisions. Take as much expert advice as you can and think carefully before you make an offer and sign the paperwork.
Forgetting the location
While your own needs may not be affected by a home’s location, sometimes it will greatly affect a future buyer’s needs. You may think you have found a bargain, but struggle to find a buyer when it comes to selling. Even if you have no plans to start a family or don’t mind not being located in the less desirable side of town, first time home buyers should consider what future buyers will look for. Make sure to keep an eye on the school district and shopping and other amenities that other first time buyers may look for in the future.
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