What Buyers Want in Starter Homes

By Kelly Leighton | Nov. 27, 2019 | 2 min. read

When buying their first home, most people know sacrifices need to be made.

A starter home is generally the building block to later affording a dream home, and since most people stay in their first home for about a decade, there are features they aren’t willing to compromise on, according to a new Clovered survey.

Men and women both agreed that the affordability of the area is the most important factor to consider when buying a first home. Low crime rates was second and proximity to workplace was third. What’s not important to people buying a starter home? A gated community, proximity to nightlife and proximity to religious life, respondents said.

Features that most people consider must-haves in their first home are central air conditioning, according to 62.7%, followed by a private backyard and storage. An outdoor fireplace, an elaborate front door and separate vanities in the bathroom are low on the list of priorities for those searching for a home.

However, Pennsylvania residents luck out. The average starter home cost in the commonwealth is $147,222, which is $13,211 below first-time homebuyers’ expectations of the cost of a starter home. However, if people can’t afford their dream starter home, how do they adjust their expectations?

More than 40% reported they search for a less pricey home, while 17.4% said they would continue to rent. Another 13.4% said they would increase their mortgage monthly budget and 12.3% would expand their search areas.

Across generations, all agree that the ideal size of a starter home is less than 1,800 square feet, with less than three bedrooms and 1.5 to 2 baths.

“When exploring both the most desirable starter home features and what potential buyers want from a location, we found some interesting contrasts. While millennials are moving towards a more minimal lifestyle and having fewer children than previous generations, our study revealed they want starter homes with more square footage than previous generations desired, including nearly three bedrooms and two bathrooms. We also noted in the study that despite an increased cost of living, buyers are willing to put off purchasing that starter home for three years in order to allow the market to normalize,” said Sean McCahill, vice president of Clovered.

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