Starter-home

The Mercury News - - Homes | Ad­ver­tis­ing Sup­ple­ment -

to stick to their bud­get and keep their hous­ing ex­pense at a max­i­mum of 35 per­cent of their monthly gross in­come. This is im­por­tant so that buy­ers don’t stress out about their up­com­ing mort­gage pay­ment and can ide­ally save money for other goals, like ren­o­va­tions, re­tire­ment, col­lege sav­ings, and more.”

Zucker stresses that, in­stead of wish-list ameni­ties like a decked­out kitchen, pri­vate back­yard, or hard­wood floors, first-time buy­ers should pri­or­i­tize qual­ity constructi­on and a de­sir­able neigh­bor­hood with a low crime rate and re­li­able ser­vices.

But if you can af­ford it, a well-equipped first home that you won’t need to fix up soon after mov­ing can be a smart purchase. “Many mil­len­ni­als are stay­ing in their starter homes longer and look­ing for a turnkey res­i­dence. They don’t want to be spend­ing their week­ends pick­ing out faucets or re­mod­el­ing their home,” notes Alison Bern­stein, pres­i­dent of Sub­ur­ban Jun­gle, a New York City real estate firm.

Kyle Wal­lace, CEO of Wal­lace Group/ Keller Wil­liams Realty in Franklin, Ten­nessee, finds this lat­ter trend trou­bling.

“Many first-time buy­ers aren’t will­ing to put in the sweat eq­uity like pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions, of­ten due to a mix of de­mand­ing jobs and lack of knowhow with fixer-up­per projects,” Wal­lace says.

Con­sider that, on av­er­age, most home­own­ers re­main in their prop­er­ties for only about seven years, “and that num­ber is even lower for first-time buy­ers,” Wal­lace adds. “So first-timers should not ex­pect or be look­ing for lux­u­ri­ous ameni­ties and fea­tures. And they need to keep time­lines in perspectiv­e — no purchase is worth be­ing ‘house poor.’ ”

For these and other rea­sons, Thomas rec­om­mends con­sid­er­ing a con­do­minium, town­home, du­plex or other res­i­dences within a new/newer sub­di­vi­sion as a starter home, if you can af­ford it.

“Be­ing in a build­ing or sub­di­vi­sion can of­fer a good start for first-time own­ers, and builders of­ten have at­trac­tive buy­ing op­tions that buy­ers may not get with an ex­ist­ing older home,” Thomas says. “This also al­lows you to live in a com­mu­nity that is re­quired to be well-kept, which will aid in sell­ing quickly when it’s time to move.”

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