First-time homebuyers should expect to stay in their home for some time. When buying a home, one expert told, they should consider whether the property will be suitable for at least 10 years, even if they might leave sooner.

This attitude affects most aspects of the search for and decision to buy a home. For example, if a home’s location is suitable in the short-term but may not be in a few years, it might not be as good a buy as the other factors suggest, particularly since the location cannot be changed.

Things to watch for

One thing a first-time home buyer may have difficulty with is assessing the condition of a home. All homes need some maintenance over time, and if the previous homeowners have not cared for their residence the new ones may find themselves coping with the cost.

Experts suggest focusing on certain key areas of a home can help prospective buyers figure out whether there are problems. On the exterior of a home, damaged gutters, a crumbling roof or rotten trim may be warning signs that the current owners have not been diligent in their care. If the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems have dirty ducts or filters, that may also serve as a signal.

Buyers may also want to focus on major things like the electrical wiring, windows and plumbing or heating systems. Updates and repairs to these are often expensive, so those planning to move out after a few years will likely want to avoid costly investment in a home.

Remodeling and updates

New home buyers may think remodeling can be a good way to add value to a home, or consider buying an older property because of the lower price. While lower purchase prices may be helpful, they should not overestimate the return on investment generally provided by remodeling, renovations and updates.

Improving a home is generally a task suited for owners who intend to stay there long-term, although home sellers may undertake some projects if they seem necessary.

Taste varies enough that major and minor changes may convince prospective buyers to go elsewhere, in some cases, rather than serving as selling points. The desirability of a particular feature will also vary by location. Typically, up-to-date kitchens are popular in most places, for example, while a deck might be less of a draw depending on the region.