National Real Estate Trends

A Fresh New Look (That's Mobile Responsive Too!)

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Vermont Realty Website

We are continually working to keep on top of our industry's trends. But sometimes these trends have nothing to do with the preferred bath to bedroom ratios or predicting the up and coming neighborhoods; sometimes, it has everything to do with how buyers are finding what they want.

The keyword here is MOBILE!

This is why we just went through a website redesign to become mobile responsive. Not just mobile friendly, responsive. Our website will now realize the size screen you are on and determine the best view for you.

Pretty neat huh? So go ahead and try us on your phone vs tablet, laptop vs desktop. No matter where you are or what device you have, we'll always be ready and right at your fingertips with the most up to date information on all things VT realty.

6 Smart Updates to Make to Your Bathroom

We've all heard that the kitchen is the heart of the home and bedrooms are just as important. One key selling point that's often overlooked is the bathrooms. Even if someone loves your floorplan and everything else about your house, they can be turned off by a poorly designed or maintained bathroom. These quick and easy updates, written by Jaymi Naciri, can make to your bathroom look great without having to do a complete remodel. 

The idea of renovating your bathroom can be overwhelming, but you don't have to knock down walls or gut the whole thing to make it feel new again. Making smart updates can get you closer to the look you want without the big budget, or the big hassle.

"You dream about a bathroom that's high on comfort and personal style, but you also want materials, fixtures, and amenities with lasting value," said houselogic. "Wake up! You can have both."

Here are a few places to start.

1. A new showerhead
This is one of our favorite ways to freshen up a bathroom because a new showerhead is: A) inexpensive, even for one that provides multiple heads and functions; B) an easy way to make your shower more enjoyable if you've been dealing with an old showerhead that doesn't provide massage or handheld options; and C) also a money saver since new showerheads are more energy-efficient.

2. Soaker tub

Soaker tubs are the hottest trend in bathrooms right now, and it's getting to the point where anything else makes your bathroom look outdated. Have one of those giant Jacuzzi tubs in your bathroom? It's probably time to yank it out, especially if your jets stopped working long ago. The bonus of a freestanding tub is it can also make your bathroom feel airier and more spacious.
3. Walk-in shower

Your dinky shower with the tired tile and the metal trim isn't fooling anyone. You don't have to tear the whole thing down (but, if you can, by all means!) Removing the tile and replacing it with something more current can do wonders, especially if you're going from something dark and cave-like to a choice that's light, bright, and reflective. A seamless glass enclosure can give the shower a more expansive and current look with minimal work.

4. A smaller mirror

Sounds funny to be think about replacing your large mirror with something smaller, right? After all, it's a bathroom. But if you've toured a model home lately or watched a bathroom be remodeled on HGTV, you've probably seen this swap. Taking down your full-width mirror and replacing it with something more tailored to the size of your vanity will instantly give the bathroom a lift. Have two sinks? Get two smaller mirrors. And make sure they're framed out. A plain slab of mirror is just…plain.
5. New lighting

Those cheap builder lights are making your bathroom look DATED! Some of them are so bad they can make an otherwise stylish bathroom look not so great. Replacing the lights is easy (and inexpensive!). Just make sure to get your mirror situation figured out first so you know what width your lighting should be. A light fixture that's wider that the mirror is going to make everything look off.
6. Vanity overhaul

There are several ways to make an old vanity/sink combo look more customized and more updated. Changing out the faucets, painting the cabinets, and adding hardware can work wonders. But if the cabinet door or drawers aren't in good shape, if the sink shape is just too dated, or if you just want to rip the whole thing out and dump it on the lawn, it might be time for something new.

If you are going to replace your vanity, take a look at floating versions—a hot look today that that's also great for a smaller space because it keeps the eye moving.

To read the original article click here.

America's Love Affair with Bedrooms and Bathrooms

We recently found this very insightful article from Lawnstater.com about the amount of homes with more bedrooms and bathrooms. While the kitchen might be considered the center of the home, bedrooms and bathrooms are just as important. You're not going to buy a home with less space than you and your family needs. While it's no secret that houses are getting bigger you might be surprised by some of the statistics shown below. The cost of living in Vermont, in particular, is very high and there is a trend towards multigenerational if not multifamily ownership. 

We love our bedrooms and bathrooms.

In 2015, the share of new single-family homes sold that had at least four bedrooms and at least three bathrooms hit a more than three-decade high. And one expert suggests this bedroom and bathroom trend is being driven by a fundamental change in American living arrangements.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows 53 percent of new single-family homes sold in 2015 had at least four bedrooms and 41 percent had at least three bathrooms. Back in 1978, just 27 percent of new single-family homes sold had at least four bedrooms and just 8 percent had at least three bathrooms.

Of course, in order to squeeze in more bedrooms and bathrooms, the average American home has grown bigger. In 1975, the average new single-family home took up 1,975 square feet, the Census Bureau says. Today, that number exceeds 2,600 square feet. That's a four-decade jump of more than 30 percent.

Multigenerational Ownership

Daren Blomquist, senior vice president of RealtyTrac, which specializes in housing data and analysis, says the trend toward larger homes — featuring more bedroom and more bathrooms — reflects the "increasing acceptance" of at least two generations of a family living under one roof.

"Part of this acceptance is brought about by cultural changes influenced by a higher percentage of foreign buyers who are open to multigenerational homeownership," Blomquist says, "as well as millennials who put more value on their social network than their personal space.
"Blomquist says multigenerational homeownership is being spurred by the overall lack of affordability and inventory in the housing market. According to RealtyTrac data, up to 14 percent of home sales last year in the U.S. involved multigenerational buyers.

In 2012, a record 57 million Americans (18 percent of the U.S. population) lived in multigenerational family households, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. That compares with 28 million in 1980 (12 percent).

In this infographic, we examine the growing number of bedrooms and bathrooms in American homes — a development being fueled in large part by the rise of multigenerational households.

To see the original article click here

Why Putting Up A little More May Cost You Less

Maurie Backman has excellent advice for home buyers. Sometimes paying a little more upfront could save you much more later.

You've worked. You've saved. You've scraped together enough for a down payment, and now it's your turn to get a piece of the good old American Dream in the form of your very own house. But before you bust out that bottle of celebratory champagne, be prepared to do a little extra number-crunching, because while your down payment is certainly a good start on the road to homeownership, there are other costs you'll need to account for as part of the process.

Making your down payment
Let's talk about that down payment for a second. Though you might get away with less, it's in your best interest to come up with 20% of your home's purchase price to avoid private mortgage insurance, or PMI. To minimize its risk, your lender will probably slap you with a PMI requirement if you fail to put down that sought-after 20%, in which case you could be looking at an extra 0.5% to 1% of your loan amount.

Say you take out a $200,000 loan and are hit with PMI at a cost of 1%. That's an extra $2,000 a year, or $166 per month on top of your regular mortgage payment. Plus, unlike regular mortgage interest, your PMI isn't even guaranteed to be tax-deductible. In other words, if you can come up with that 20% payment, you'll avoid what's essentially a penalty for not putting enough down. But even if you do manage to plunk down 20%, there are other up-front costs to consider.

Closing costs
There's a whole load of paperwork that goes into buying a house, and naturally, you'll pay for it. Your closing costs might include things like attorney fees, loan origination fees, recording fees, title fees, and survey fees. Is that enough fees for you? Closing costs typically encompass 2% to 5% of your home's purchase price. This means if you're buying a home for $220,000, you can expect to shell out anywhere from $4,400 to $11,000 in up-front fees. Now the good news is that your lender is required to provide a good faith estimate of what your closing costs will be so that you're not in total shock when those fees come in. The problem, however, is that your estimate can change by up to 10%, so you'd be wise to stash away a few extra thousand dollars to be on the safe side.

Prepaid escrow fees
Many lenders have a practice of escrowing money for real estate taxes and homeowners insurance. If your loan comes with an escrow provision, the upside is that your lender will make these scheduled payments for you so that you don't have to worry about them. The bad news is that since lenders generally aren't willing to take many chances, yours will likely require you to pad your escrow balance when you close on your loan. This could mean prepaying anywhere from two to six months or more of real estate taxes and homeowners insurance. Let's say your annual taxes and homeowners policy cost $6,000 and $1,000, respectively. If your lender requires a three-month deposit, you're looking at an additional $1,750 at closing.

On top of these costs, you'll need to think about things like home repairs and moving fees. Professional movers could cost several hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the amount of stuff you've got and the distance it needs to be hauled. Similarly, unless you're buying brand new construction, there's a good chance you'll need to tackle a few up-front repairs before settling into your home. While your home inspection should clue you in to the types of repairs you're looking at and their associated costs, you could be in for some surprises once you take ownership of your new abode. This is why it's crucial to set some funds aside to cover the unknowns of owning a house, many of which could rear their ugly heads from the get-go. So before you get ready to empty your savings account and convert that money into a down payment, make sure you've got enough cash on hand to cover the additional costs of buying a house. Otherwise that nice bottle of champagne may be the last one you'll crack open for quite some time.

The $15,978 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook 
If you're like most Americans, you're a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known “Social Security secrets” could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. In fact, one MarketWatch reporter argues that if more Americans knew about this, the government would have to shell out an extra $10 billion annually. For example: one easy, 17-minute trick could pay you as much as $15,978 more... each year! Once you learn how to take advantage of all these loopholes, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we're all after.

View the full article here: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/11/29/buying-a-house-why-your-down-payment-isnt-enough.aspx

 

 

How Do Homeowners Accumulate Wealth?

We found this very interesting! This is important for anyone considering renting or buying. Evaluation of financial investments can make or break your return on an achievement scale. Check out what Lawrence Yun had to say:

The differences between buying and renting are massive. According to the Federal Reserve, a typical homeowner's net worth was $195,400, while that of renter's was $5,400. The data reflects 2013 and the next survey of household finances, which is conducted every three years, will be out in 2016. Based on what has happened since 2013 and projecting a conservative assumption of what could happen next year to home prices if we see only 3% price growth, the wealth gap between homeowners and renters will widen even further. The Fed is likely to show a figure of $225,000 to $230,000 in median net worth for homeowners in 2016 and around $5,000 for renters. That is, a typical homeowner will be ahead of a typical renter by a multiple of 45 on a lifetime financial achievement scale.

Though there will always be discussion about whether to buy or rent, or whether the stock market offers a bigger return than real estate, the reality is that homeowners steadily build wealth. The simplest math shouldn't be overlooked. A vast majority of homebuyers take out a 30-year fixed rate mortgage to make a home purchase. After 30 years, there is no mortgage payment (nor rent payment). So the home price growth over that time period would be the equity that the homebuyer would have accumulated. For example, the median home price of a single-family dwelling in the U.S. thirty years ago in 1985 was $75,500. This year, it will be at least $220,000. That figure of $220,000 is the housing component of the person's wealth. Even had home prices not risen, the person would still have $75,500 in wealth today - on top of not paying any further monthly mortgage after 30 years.

This simple example does not play out nearly as neatly in the real world, since people do not stay in one residence over the 30 year period. Almost all homeowners trade up, change neighborhoods, or move to a better school district at some point. However, they are able to make those residential relocations due to the housing equity accumulated, even over a shorter period, and can immediately apply that equity to the next home as a downpayment. Therefore the conditions of steadily building housing wealth still hold.

We also know that not everyone can or should be homeowners. The memories of easily accessible subprime mortgages and subsequent harsh foreclosure pains are still fresh, and remind us of the devastating impact on the families involved, local communities, and to the broad economy. In addition most young adults have not developed the financial standing or have found a stable, desirable career and, therefore, choose not be homeowners until later. The homeownership rate among households under the age of 35 is 35% currently and rarely rises above 40% historically. For those under the age of 25, the current ownership rate is 23% and rarely rises above 25%. But the time will eventually come when people want to convert to ownership. By the time people are in their prime-earning years of 45-to-55, nearly three-fourths do eventually become homeowners. By retirement, nearly 80% are homeowners.

A recent survey of consumers commissioned by my organization revealed that 80% believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision (2015 National Housing Pulse Survey). Most consumers appear to already understand the simple math and the benefits of homeownership. So don't overthink the matter of whether now is a good time to buy, or whether stock market returns will be better. The exact timing of a home purchase will have little financial impact in the big scheme of things. Just know that homeowners generally do come out ahead of renters in the long run.

View the original article here:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/lawrenceyun/2015/10/14/how-do-homeowners-accumulate-wealth/

 

Homeownership and Wealth Creation - NYTimes.com

Homeownership and Wealth Creation - NYTimes.com

By THE New York Times EDITORIAL BOARD NOV. 29, 2014

Since the housing bust, renting has been in and owning a home has been out, especially among young adults who in earlier decades would have been first-time home buyers. As the rate of homeownership has declined, from a peak of nearly 70 percent in 2004 to a 20-year low of 64.3 percent recently, the number of owner-occupied homes has barely budged, while the number occupied by renters has increased by nearly 25 percent.

Those trends have led to questions about the future of homeownership. Would more and longer rentals be a bad thing? Are the benefits of homeownership overrated? The answer to the first question is yes; the answer to the second is no.

Homeownership long has been central to Americans' ability to amass wealth; even with the substantial decline in wealth after the housing bust, the net worth of homeowners over time has significantly outpaced that of renters, who tend as a group to accumulate little if any wealth.

A recent study by researchers at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University analyzed the reasons for these differing outcomes. Paramount among them is that homeownership requires potential buyers to save for a down payment, and forces them to continue to save by paying down a portion of the mortgage principal each month.

Renting, in contrast, offers the potential for comparable wealth building only if renters invest an amount equal to a down payment plus any savings from renting. As a practical matter, most renters do not do that. Even in instances where renters have excess cash, saving a substantial amount is difficult without a near-term goal, like a down payment. It is also difficult to systematically invest each month in stocks, bonds or other assets without being compelled to do so.

The analysis does not downplay the risks of homeownership or the devastation of the housing bust. But the lesson of that debacle is not for individuals to avoid homeownership or for policy makers to devalue its importance. Rather, the lesson should be to foster conditions under which middle- and lower-income Americans can sustain homeownership and avoid the ruin of foreclosure.

For starters, legal and regulatory protections against practices that inflated the housing bubble need to take root. The Dodd-Frank financial reform law, for example, requires lenders to ensure that borrowers have the ability to repay their home loans and outlaws complex mortgage terms that enrich lenders but expose borrowers to payment shocks.

The law also established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with the purpose of looking out for consumers' interests in financial transactions. The C.F.P.B. has gotten off to a good start, but Republicans, who now control Congress, have consistently tried to weaken the agency and the provisions of Dodd-Frank generally. President Obama must be prepared to veto legislation to repeal or weaken mortgage-finance and consumer-protection reforms.

Equally important, larger economic forces that make homeownership less possible for working people need to be in the forefront of political debate -- even if Republican control of Congress makes actions to address them unlikely. Long-term wage stagnation, for example, has made it increasingly difficult to accumulate enough for a down payment, and has led many homeowners to refinance their mortgages in order to pull out equity for consumer purchases.

The solution is to lift wages, not only with new policies like higher minimum wages and toughened labor standards, but also with approaches to managing the economy to ensure that a fair share of growth goes to wages and salaries, rather than going disproportionately to corporate profits.

Renting can make sense as a lifestyle choice or because of income constraints. As a means to building wealth, however, there is no practical substitute for homeownership.

via Homeownership and Wealth Creation - NYTimes.com.

 

3 Tips to Sell Your House in the Fall - Sell - realtor.com

Fall Home Sales

Although the real estate business tends to slow down in the fall, the season still can be an attractive time to put a home on the market. If you want to sell your house in the next few months, it can be done. Potential buyers--such as empty nesters or millennials who aren't worried about moving after the school year has started--will compete for fewer homes on the market and will likely want to seal a deal before the holiday season kicks into high gear. Here are three tips to help make your home more attractive in autumn, so you can sell your house before winter comes.

1. Clean Up

As many regions slowly shift from a sellers' market to a moderate or buyers' market, you'll want to do everything you can to make your house look its best. Pay particular attention to eliminating clutter and safety hazards that can crop up with cooler weather: Make sure your yard, walkways and gutters are free of leaves and debris. Mow your lawn so it looks neat. Trim trees so unexpected winds don't knock down branches that could damage your home or hurt anybody. If it is rainy, be sure you have a good doormat so visitors can wipe their feet and not traipse mud and water through the house.If you already have snow, be sure stairs and walkways leading to your front door are not icy.Wash decks and wipe down windows so they sparkle instead of appear streaked by rain. Vacuum and wash down the fireplace, especially if it hasn't been used in months. If you live in a region where it's still warm enough to use the patio, make sure the area is inviting and arranged with the views from indoors in mind. Above all, make sure your doorway and the rest of the house is clear from knick knacks, bicycles and toys that make your home appear cluttered.

2. Create Autumn Curb Appeal

If your house's exterior looks drab, you may want to consider painting it a warm color, planting seasonal flowers, or placing pumpkins strategically along your walkup to accent your home's appeal with instant color. Potential buyers will make an instant judgment when they see your home, and you want to be sure it's positive. While you don't want to go overboard with fall decorations that detract from the home itself, a few displays like a festive front-door wreath--and lighting so people can clearly see the path to your front door--can make your home feel fresh, even in the fall.

3. Keep the House Cozy

Entering a cold house could leave an unfavorable impression. So warm up your home with a fresh coat of paint and set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature. Another way to warm up a home is with light, especially as days get shorter leading into winter. Be sure to open blinds and curtains so plenty of light illuminates the home's interior. A few embellishments like red, orange or golden yellow pillows can breathe new life into dull sofa--or a fall centerpiece can highlight a certain area of the home. While you don't want your home to look like the latest department store display, well-chosen embellishments that give potential buyers the impression you've paid attention to the fine details and taken care of any problems with the home will help you put your best face forward. And remember, there's nothing wrong with trying to sweeten the deal with the comforting aroma of a freshly-baked, cinnamon-laced apple pie or pumpkin cupcake to leave a lasting impression of your home as the potential buyer takes a bite.

 

Updated from an earlier version by Michele Dawson/Realty Times.

 

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NAR Report's Homeownership is a Priority

Renters Thinking More about Owning a Home, Say Homeownership is a Top Priority

Reposted from National Association of Realtor's

WASHINGTON (July 25, 2013) - Americans overwhelmingly believe owning a home is a good financial decision and a majority of renters say homeownership is one of their highest priorities for the future, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors®. The 2013 National Housing Pulse Survey also found that renters are thinking more about purchasing a home now than in past years, while the number of people who say they prefer to rent has declined.

"Homeownership matters to Americans who consistently realize the many benefits it provides to communities, families and the nation's economy," said NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty, in Villa Park, Calif. "Due to high housing affordability and today's interest rates it makes sense for people to consider homeownership over renting. In fact, in many parts of the country it's cheaper to own a home than to rent one. Therefore, it's no surprise that renters recognize that owning a home offers tremendous long-term benefits and is an investment in their future."

The survey, which measures consumers' attitudes and concerns about housing opportunities, found eight in 10 Americans believe buying a home is a good financial decision and more than two-thirds (68 percent) said now is a good time to buy a home. Since the last survey in 2011, more renters are now thinking about purchasing a home, up from 25 percent to 36 percent, while those who say they prefer to rent dropped from 31 percent to 25 percent. Half of renters say that eventually owning a home is one of their highest personal priorities, up from 42 percent to 51 percent.

Attitudes toward the housing market have also improved over the years. Nearly four in 10 Americans (38 percent) identified an increase in activity within their local housing market in the past year, compared to just 22 percent who reported a slowdown in activity. By contrast, in 2011 some 51 percent reported a slowdown in activity. There was also less concern than in the past about the drop in home values; a majority said housing prices in their area are more expensive than a year ago.

In addition to these improved attitudes about the housing market, respondents also showed an improved outlook about the national economy. Just under half (48 percent) said job layoffs and unemployment are a big problem, down from 61 percent in 2011. The concern over foreclosures showed a steep decline from 2011 when 47 percent characterized distressed properties as "very" or a "fairly big problem"; today only 29 percent say it's a problem.

For many Americans, the perceived obstacles to homeownership have remained unchanged over the years; low wages, student loan debt, and little savings for a down payment and closing costs continue to make it difficult for many to become homeowners. Respondents across the board - young and old, college graduates and non-graduates - consider student loan debt to be a large obstacle.

"Student loan debt is a concern for many consumers in today's market, especially first-time buyers," said Thomas. "Buyers with student loan debt may find it difficult to access mortgage credit, as well as save for a down payment. Pending mortgage finance regulations requiring higher down payments could also contribute to the already tight lending environment. Realtors® are working with regulators to address this issue and are committed to making sure those who are willing and able to own a home have the opportunity to pursue that dream."

When asked for reasons why homeownership is important, respondents' top reasons underscored basic American values and freedoms; they were building equity, wanting a stable and safe environment, and the freedom to choose where to live. While these reasons have remained virtually unchanged since 2011, they do vary slightly according to demographics. The top scoring reason for African-Americans and Hispanics was that homeownership provides stability and a safe environment; women also placed more emphasis on environmental factors than men. Non-college graduates placed stronger emphasis on public schools, owning a home before retirement, and living in asafe and stable environment.

The 2013 National Housing Pulse Survey is conducted by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NAR's Housing Opportunity Program, which aims to position, educate and help Realtors®promote housing opportunities in their community, in both the rental and homeownership sectors of the market. The telephone survey polled 2,000 adults nationwide and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

 

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Shop and Lock

Are you shopping for a home and concerned about the potential of increasing interest rates?  Are you getting quotes for mortgage interest rates today and finding that two weeks later the rates are 0.25% higher?  Do you know what a 0.25% in interest rate means to your monthly payment?  How much could you afford if the rates went up a half point, or even 1 full point?

At today's rate of 4.5% on a 30-year fixed mortgage, the principal and interest payment for a $250,000 loan is $1,266.71 a month.  If that rate goes up to 5.00% the payment would go up to $1,342.05 per month.  An increase of $75.03 a month in payment.  If it increased a full point to 5.5% the same loan would cost you $1,419.47.  An increase of $152.76 per month as compared to the 4.5% rate. That is over a 10% increase in each payment.

Interest rates do not typically jump a full point very fast, but I have seen them increase a half a point in a matter of days.  In typical fashion they go up faster than they come down.  So, the question becomes, if you are shopping for a house, how do you protect yourself from the unstable economic market?

There are programs that allow you to lock a rate while shopping for a home.  Here's some insight into how these programs work.  You complete your pre-approval application, put in a TBD (to be determined) address, and lock in your rate for a specific period of time.  You then have time to both identify a property and finalize the purchase.  During this period of time you should consider getting started on the credit approval portion of the loan to speed up the back process, leaving you with only the appraisal and title work to be completed.   This makes your contract offer look especially desirable, as you would not only be pre-qualified, but fully pre-approved.

Now you ask, what happens if the economy swings and interest rates improve? Normally, once you are locked in, you are locked in to that rate.  But, be sure to ask if the lender offers a "float down."  What this means is that even if the interest rates improve you can still get the better rate.  This is a true win-win situation.

Article written for NELR by Jeff Teplitz, Mortgage Loan Officer, EverBank.

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Buying Your Starter Home: Setting Expectations

Watch enough HGTV, and you'll quickly realize that the majority of first-time home buyers have no idea what types of amenities they can actually afford. Going from renting to owning your home opens up a wide range of opportunities in your life, but it also requires some sacrifices. It's important to consider whether the first house you shop for is one that you want to live in for your entire life or if it's more of a starter home. While you may still be wary about giving up too many amenities when buying a starter home, you have to realize that some demands are going to cost you big bucks for a place you only plan on staying in for a few years. Here are six things you might need to sacrifice when buying your first home. Prepare yourself now, and you will fell much less anxiety during the actual house hunting process.

 

1. Giant Yard - After you've been cooped up in an apartment for several years, it's only natural to dream of a house with a big yard for you to enjoy. Unfortunately, most starter homes are built on relatively small lots. Property is expensive, so you will typically have to sacrifice major interior amenities in order to get a house with a big yard. You should also consider how ready you are to assume the commitments associated with caring for a large plot of land. Between routinely mowing the lawn and maintaining plants and trees, many young homeowners find a big yard is actually more trouble than it's worth.

2. New Appliances - You should never rule out a house just because you walk in and see an ancient dishwasher or refrigerator. While almost all first-time home buyers dream of finding a place with brand new stainless steel appliances, the truth is that the benefits of those machines are mostly cosmetic. A white fridge will keep your food just as cold as a stainless steel one, and you may be able to get a better deal on a house because it has older appliances. Plus, if you save up enough money while living in the home, you can always replace your appliances with the ones you want anyway.

3. Master Bathroom - Everyone wants a home with an en suite master bathroom attached to the bedroom because of the added convenience and privacy, but most people looking for starter homes are either single adults or childless couples. If you don't have kids yet, then there's no real reason why you will absolutely need a dedicated master bathroom. Most couples can survive just fine sharing one bathroom in a home, even if it's not the most convenient scenario. Ditch your demands for an en suite master, and you will be able to open up your pool of potential houses to include several more options.

4. Updated Kitchen and Bathrooms - Similar to new appliances, updated kitchens and bathrooms are mostly cosmetic demands, and you may not be able to find a starter home with granite counter tops and rain shower-heads. It's common knowledge among realtors that kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms in the house to redo, which means that sellers aren't likely to put the money into refinishing them in a starter home. It's important for first-time buyers to insist on functionality over appearance--as long as everything in the bathroom works, you can live with it for a few years.

5. School District - If you don't have kids (or even if you do have very young children), you shouldn't worry too much about finding a home in a good school district. Desirable school systems make housing prices skyrocket, so you should only put that extra money into a house if you know you'll be living there when your children begin their education. For many buyers, it's better to buy a cheaper starter home now and work on saving money so that you can afford to move into a good school district when it comes time for your little one to enter kindergarten.

6. Move-In-Ready Condition - So many first-time home buyers are scared of doing any sort of renovations on their starter homes. For this reason, some people rule out perfectly good properties just because they don't like the color of the walls or the type of flooring. As long as your house has good bones, you can fix almost all cosmetic issues--and many fixes cost next to nothing when compared to the overall price of a home. Do your best to look past anything that can be easily changed, and you may be able to find a diamond in the rough.

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