Buying an apartment or house makes sense if you intend to live in it at least five to ten years; any less, and you may wind up losing money in the transaction. The seller in a real estate transaction can quickly expect to pay up to 10 percent of the sales price of the home in closing costs, allowances, commissions, necessary repairs, and other negotiated expenses. Also, sellers rarely get the full asking price for their apartment or home, unless the housing market has a shortage of inventory. It’s also possible to get the full asking price if a home has been well-renovated, is in a great location, or if it features distinctive and appealing architectural detail.

What does that mean for the first-time apartment or homebuyer? It means trying to predict the future.

  • In the next seven years or longer, do you plan to start or grow your family?
  • Is there a possibility your employer will transfer you to a location in another part of the country?
  • Do you have an ailing or aging parent who may need to move in with you?

Predicting the future also means buying only as much apartment or house as you think you’ll need, but not much more. In the past, the trend in a first-time apartment or home buying was to purchase a smaller, more affordable “starter apartment or home,” and then sell it in a couple of years when the family (and the household income) grew.

Given the variables in the real estate market, that no longer seems like the best strategy.

Today, you’re better off buying the apartment or home you think you’ll need for your family for the next ten years.

Condos and homes with multipurpose rooms, like a dining room that can be converted to an office, or an attic that can be transformed into a bedroom, make sense as you try to arrange your home to meet your family’s changing needs.

Resist the temptation to buy too much house. The additional taxes, utility payments and maintenance and repair costs restrict your ability to save for other family necessities. As the saying goes, no matter how big your apartment or house is, you can only sit in one chair at a time.

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