How To Buy Your First Home

When it comes to the place you’ll call home, forget about quick profits— you’re in it for the long term.

FLIPPING HOUSES isn’t without its risks—as thousands who lost money in markets like Florida and Nevada in the run-up to the 2007 real estate bubble can attest. “If homeowners take on a project and don’t have a clue what they’re doing, they’re just looking for disaster,” Jonathan Scott tells MONEY. “As soon as you’re not organized, it starts becoming very expensive, and you start missing deadlines,” he adds. Just looking for a place you and your family can call home? You need to use a different playbook—one focused on owning for the long term, not profiting from a quick price bump. “Find a home that you can grow into,” says Jonathan.

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“If you know you’re going to have kids and a growing family, get a house where maybe you can fix up the nursery and fix up the space—but get the square footage that you need.” In 2016, 35% of home sales went to first-time buyers—a jump from a 30- year low of 32% in 2015, according to the National Association of Realtors. Today, American homeowners are staying put more than in recent years, with the average length of time spent in a home at 8.7 years in 2016, according to data compiled by the New York Times. There’s good reason for that. When you factor in all the expenses— including a broker’s commission, the staging, and the mortgage—the cost of selling your home typically amounts to about 10% of its price, according to Bankrate. In other words, unless you plan to turn pro, it usually pays to stay in one place.

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