Choosing Your First Home: What to Look for When House Hunting

It's important to remember that the first house you buy isn't likely to be the one you'll live in forever. Instead, you might consider looking for a starter home when you are tired of renting and unable to afford your dream house. Approaching the house-hunting process with this caveat in mind will allow you to forgive some of the property's shortcomings and put you in a good position to profit when you resell the home. Here are a few tips to consider:

Investigate the Neighborhood
While it might seem like a good idea to take advantage of the potential profitability of an up-and-coming neighborhood, you likely won't be living in your starter home long enough to see a major shift. Instead, look for your first home in an already established, safe neighborhood because it'll probably keep its desirable status, and this can be an advantage for you when you want to sell your house in the future. Many first-time buyers are also in the process of starting a family, which is another good reason to ensure that the neighborhood will be a comfortable and secure place to live. It's also a good idea to figure out how likely it is that you will have school-age children while you are living in this house. Accessibility to good schools really drives up home prices.

Maximize Resale Value
While you are in the process of buying your starter home, you should also be thinking ahead to reselling it. Put yourself in the shoes of other prospective buyers and figure out whether a property would meet most of the average buyer's criteria. Homes with fewer than two bedrooms or bathrooms can be difficult to market, for example, because they often exclude larger families. Even if you don't need two bathrooms at the moment, it might still be a good idea to look for a home that has them. Similarly, while you may not care about an open concept living space, trends show that most buyers want a home that feels spacious. Invest now in a property that will impress others, and you will have less trouble selling it in a few years.

Look for Potential
Your starter home might not be 100 percent perfect when you move in, so it's a good idea to look for a house that could be improved by a few cosmetic tweaks. You may be able to get a better deal on a house that needs work, and it will be relatively easy to increase its resale value. So if you aren't crazy about the countertops, consider buying the home anyway and install granite yourself. In addition to being able to customize the house to your tastes, you'll also likely see a decent return on your investment when you list the property for sale.