Buying a new home is a big decision. The most common debate I hear about homebuying is whether you should buy a starter home or a forever home. I think it all depends on where you are in your personal life and in your financial journey.
For first-time home buyers though, I’d almost always recommend buying a starter house. Just three years ago, my husband and I purchased a 3-bedroom, 1.5 bath one-floor starter home and I’m very pleased with that decision.
Here are 5 reasons why I’m happy that my husband and I bought a starter home and how it’s helped us improve our finances overall.
1. Lower Purchase Price
It’s no secret that the biggest appeal to buying a starter home is that it’s often cheaper. Some starter homes are older or may even need some work. They’re also smaller than a forever home so it’s likely that your family will outgrow the home in a few years. In fact, most people only reside in their starter home for an average of 5 years.
While you may get preapproved for a higher mortgage amount, you don’t have to borrow up to that limit. With a starter home, we were able to save a lot of money since the home was cheaper. This also meant we could make a smaller down payment and still have a reasonable monthly mortgage that wasn’t overwhelming.
It’s so important to avoid having your whole income tied up in your mortgage payment. Our starter home has allowed us to fulfill the dream of becoming homeowners but still have money to save, invest, vacation, etc.
2. Less House to Clean and Maintain
There have been days where I wish I had more space. Then I realize that cleaning and maintaining a bigger home would be very difficult for us right now. It is challenging enough to clean, furnish, and make sure we’re doing the proper maintenance on our starter home right now. With a bigger home, I’d have to ask myself questions like:
Should we hire someone to help us keep up with the cleaning?
Will we need to buy additional tools to take care of the lawn?
How will we find the money to maintain more systems that come with a bigger house
Right now, our yard is a decent size and whenever my husband wants to clean the gutters, we can simply go on the roof of our ranch-style home with a ladder and get the job done rather quickly.
By remaining in our modest home for now, we are saving a lot of money and time so we can actually enjoy the space we do have.
3. We Learned How to Fix Stuff
Buying a starter home has also taught my husband and I how to fix some things and DIY when necessary. Yes, if we bought a newer dream home, we may not have had many repairs to make but there’s also no guarantee of this.
Plus, we both learned some valuable ways to save on home repairs and work with contractors. Owning real estate someday is a goal we both have so it’s been nice to see how we can fix up and maintain a smaller home while also meeting other financial obligations.
4. Our Home’s Value Did Increase
Contrary to what some people may believe, your starter home’s value can increase over time – especially if you make valuable updates to the house. Having a starter home doesn’t have to mean you own a money pit. If you maintain the home and make strategic improvements, you could increase your equity by a lot.
Initially, we made some changes like waterproofing the crawlspace, replacing all the carpet with wood flooring, installing a backsplash in the kitchen, and getting rid of some trees in the yard to start. Add in the fact that property values in our area have also increased, and in just 3 years our home’s value has increased by 25%.
This means that whenever we do sell, we’re bound to make a nice profit.
5. Great Way to Test Out Homeownership
Finally, buying a starter home is a great way to test out homeownership. You may have always dreamed of becoming a homeowner, but there are some serious pros and cons to consider. When you buy a starter home, you experience all of those benefits firsthand. You own a property and can paint the walls or even knock a wall down to customize your home as you set fit. On the other hand, things will break, taxes will increase, and surprise problems will arise.
I find comfort in knowing that if my husband and I ever want to go back to renting for a while, we can sell out home easily. There is always someone who will buy a starter home. If you find that we love homeownership despite the drawbacks, we can always upgrade to a bigger home in the future. Either way, we’ll have some priceless homeowner experience under our belt.
Buying a starter home was one of the best decisions I ever made. Yes, I’ve made some costly mistakes during the process and am still learning. But I don’t feel trapped financially at all. We still have money left over to save, pay down consumer debt, and just live our lives.
I’ve also learned how to be more content and make the most of the space we do have here. Despite all the house projects and seeing our mortgage payment increase a few times due to property tax changes, I can confidently say that we are in a better financial place than we were 3 years ago.
Would you ever consider buying a starter home? Why or why not?