First time home buying can be a confusing and complicated process. Lucky for you, our team has tons of experience with first time home buyers. We’re here to walk you through the entire process from beginning to end, as well as educate you as much as we can along the way.
In this blog post and featured video, we will be covering the four popular first-time home buying options. Our team has completed transactions in each one of these categories, so our knowledge is as up to speed as ever.
A good exercise to do while reading this blog and watching the video is to picture where you see yourself living. Do you picture yourself in a townhouse in Minnetonka? Perhaps you see yourself in a single-family home in Minneapolis, a condo in Blaine, or new construction in St. Louis Park… Any of these could be great options for you and your family, but it’s important to know what each of these is, and the pros and cons that each one has to offer.
Single Family Home | #1
The first home buying option we’ll start with is the single-family home. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a single-family home is one that is fully detached, semi-detached, or a townhouse. If it is connected to another unit there must be a wall from ground to roof.
However, when most people think of a single-family home, they picture a standalone residential structure that is intended for a single dwelling. This means there is one kitchen, unshared walls, and unshared utilities. Since the second definition of a single-family home makes more sense to many homebuyers, picture that.
Pros: There are some advantages to having a single-family home. The first, and probably the most obvious is the privacy that you will receive in this type of dwelling. They usually sit on private property and tend to be quieter since most of the time there are no shared walls between you and a neighbor. The second pro would be the ability to customize your property. If you want to change how the outside of your home looks, you can easily do some landscaping or change virtually any aspect of your home. If you live in a townhouse or a condo, these options are usually not readily available to you. The last pro that we’ll cover for single-family homes is the amount of space that you’ll receive. Even if you don’t own a large ranch down in Texas, you’ll often find yourself with more space in a single-family home compared to a townhouse or condo. This can usually be attributed to a bigger yard, more square footage, and extra storage space within the home.
Cons: The biggest and most obvious drawback for some people is that there is the potential for more responsibility. Many single-family homes are not a part of a homeowners association, so lawn care, snow removal, exterior maintenance, utilities, cable, etc. are all the homeowner’s responsibility. However, if you’re someone who likes total control over your property, then this could be a major pro. The second drawback worthy of noting is that usually (not all the time) single-family homes cost more. Part of this comes from paying for the lot that the home is on. Usually, they come with more outdoor space and privacy, so that can be reflected in the price of the property.
A single-family home can be a great option for you and your family, but it depends on where you want to live, and what your budget is. Talk to one of our team members if you think this option could be right for you.
Condominium (condo) | #2
A condo is a privately-owned individual unit within a building of other units. Condos often share amenities such as pools, recreation rooms, tennis courts, lounging areas, etc. Many condos are a part of a homeowner’s association (HOA) which advises tenants on covenants, restrictions, rules, and for many homeowner’s associations, you will pay a monthly or annual fee that helps pay for exterior maintenance, some utilities, and maintaining shared spaces.
Pros: The biggest pro for some people living in a condo is the low level of maintenance that they require. Typically, all of the exterior maintenance is covered by the HOA, as well as repairs that were not caused by the tenant such as a leaky roof or damage from a storm. Another pro to living in a condo is a sense of security. Many condo buildings have a security staff, and there is a secure entrance into the building so if living alone is not something you’re ready for, a condo can provide a good sense of security. Lastly, condos are often more affordable than single-family homes because they’re more compact, and often have lower property taxes.
Cons: The most obvious con to living in a condo is the lack of privacy that you will receive. Because you’re living in a shared building, you have neighbors on the other side of a wall and many areas of the building such as the lobby, hallways, and social areas are shared amongst all the tenants in the building. Secondly, condos can sometimes have restricted outdoor space. Because condo buildings are trying to maximize real estate by building up, it doesn’t leave as much room outdoors for green space. However, this does depend on where the condo is located and the lot that it was built on. Another drawback to living in a condo that many tenants complain about is the HOA rules. These rules can range from noise levels, what you can have on your patio, to the size and number of pets that you’re able to have.
Condos are great for people who might not be ready for a single-family home, but still want to exercise owning property and developing equity in the real estate market. They can also be good for people who would rather not have to deal with excess amounts of maintenance.
Townhouse | #3
Townhouses are similar to condos in that they typically have an HOA and are more compact than a single-family home. The main difference between a townhouse and a condo is that condos are typically in a large building with many units per floor, while townhouses can have two levels much like a single-family home, are on the street level, but typically have a shared wall(s) with neighbors.
Pros: Typically, townhouses cost less than a single-family home because you can get a lot of space in the same area as a single-family home. But because you’re sharing a wall(s) with a neighbor, you’re more paying for the inside of the home rather than the yard space you might pay for a single-family home. Since townhouses are typically smaller than single-family homes, they require less maintenance, and if there is an HOA they usually take care of the exterior of the house such as lawn and snow care. If your townhouse is a part of a development, they may have shared amenities such as a pool or clubhouse. Some townhouses even have access to their own yard, a patio, and a private garage.
Cons: Since you’re usually near your neighbors, there may be some noise pollution that you’ll have to deal with, which you typically won’t find in a single-family home. Another drawback of living in a townhouse could be HOA rules. If you’re someone who doesn’t like restrictions or covenants on your living, then a townhouse might not be for you. The third drawback may only apply to some people, as many townhouses are multi-level living. If you’d rather have all your living spaces on one level, then a condo might be a better option.
New Construction | #4
The last section that we want to cover is new construction. This category will almost always fall into single-family homes and can be a great option if you’re looking for more space, and a new house to live in. Like AJ mentioned in the video, you can either go with a custom home designer which entails working with an architect and usually buying a piece of land, knocking down whatever structures are currently on the property, and moving forward with your design. However, some major homebuilders such as Lennar have lots ready to go, and homes that have already been designed. With major corporations like Lennar, you won’t have as many options right out of the gate, but the process is usually a little quicker.
Well now that we’ve covered the four major categories that first-time homebuyers typically exercise, it’s time to think about where you might want to live. Be mindful of your habits and what you like to do in your free time, as this is a major factor for many buyers when deciding what type of home they would like to live in. Until next time…