(Image source

Purchasing a home is a big decision and huge financial commitment. First-time homebuyers may find that the size, style, or location of the home they thought they could afford is a bit out of their price range, at least for now.

As someone who’s in the middle of selling my starter home, I can attest to the fact that there is good, and bad, when it comes to deciding whether to continue renting and wait it out, or jumping in and buying a home that’s okay – but not perfect. Here are the considerations, along with homes currently listed in Sonoma County that would be considered starters;


3263 Boron Ave

3263 Boron Ave, Santa Rosa – $449,950. 3 beds 3 baths 1,265 square feet. (Image source Linda M Owen)

If you know you want to invest in a home, deciding how quickly you’d like to do so can be important when it comes to getting your money in place. For first time homebuyers, making sure they qualify for a low rate, have the cash for a down payment as well as closing costs, is key to a less stressful move.

23440 Millwood Rd

23440 Millwood Rd, Cazadero – $347,500. 1 bed, 1 bath, 901 square feet. (Image source Vanguard Properties)

An existing lease for an apartment or rental home will need to be taken into consideration; if a new lease was just signed, the tenants may be held responsible for the remainder of the lease.

Consider Rates 

525 Pinewood

525 Pinewood Dr, Santa Rosa – $359,000. 3 beds, 2 baths, 1,047 square feet. (Image source Coldwell Banker)

Mortgage rates are always changing, depending on the market. If a homebuyer can lock in a 2.8%, or lower, loan, it may be a good time to commit.

710 Camellia C

710 Camellia Ct, Santa Rosa – $357,000. 3 beds, 1 bath, 1,088 square feet. (Image source Focus Real Estate & Investment)

Refinancing is always an option, too. Even if your initial loan isn’t stellar, after a year or two of making timely payments homebuyers can consider offers from different banks.


8242 Windmill

8242 Windmill Farms Dr, Cotati – $349,000. 2 beds, 2 baths, 989 square feet. (Image source Bradley Real Estate)

Starter homes usually need a bit of fixing and upgrades, but the upside is that the homebuyer will be upgrading the home in order to (hopefully) sell it for more than they paid for it.

11800 Ridge

11800 Ridge Dr, Guerneville – $349,000. 2 beds, 1 bath, 660 square feet. (Image source Zephyr Russian River)

The downside is that if they want to sell when the market is down, they may not profit at all.

Planning Ten Years Ahead

418 Terrace Blvd, Healdsburg – 499,000. 3 beds, 2 baths, 1,638 square feet. (Image source Century 21)

First-time homebuyers may plan to stay in their starter home for only 5 years, but the reality is closer to 10. If a long-term goal involves having children, a two bedroom may seem far smaller much more quickly.

2139 Lansbury

2139 Lansbury St, Santa Rosa – $419,000. 3 beds, 2 baths, 1,103 square feet. (Image source W Real Estate)

For those who are more career-oriented, the size of the home may not be as important as the time it will take to complete renovations. A smaller home that was affordable but needed major renovations may cause long-term stress when the time to sell comes around and the unfinished work becomes a bargaining point.

Location Is Key

5310 Coronado

5310 Coronado Ct, Rohnert Park – $449,982. 5 beds, 2 baths, 1,573 square feet. (Image source Linda M Owen)

When a home buyer is ready to buy and has the cash for a down payment, they may be willing to jump at the first affordable place they find without looking at the neighborhood first.

2070 Cazadero

2070 Cazadero Hwy, Cazadero – 369,000. 2 beds, 2 baths, 1,630 square feet. (Image source Real Estate eBrokers Inc.)

A neighborhood with a lot of ‘for sale’ signs, foreclosures, vacant homes, or a bad crime rating, it can be expected that the resale value won’t be great, and the home may be harder to sell.