Working with clients who are buying their first home, whether it’s a single family or multi-family, it is a consistent discussion of expectations.
As a buyer trying to get into the market, very rarely are you going to have the advantage in a buying situation. You are going to have to be willing to go the extra mile to get where you want to be. The most common advice I give my buyers is to take the house that needs the elbow grease and doing the extra work to make it exactly what you want it to be. The other option, is the honest fact that you may need to over-pay for something to get your foot in the door.
The reason my first advice is to clients is to buy the property that needs the work, is simple. It immediately puts you in a better long-term situation. As a first time buyer, you are going to be an owner-occupant of the property that you are buying. It allows you to take on small projects on your own time and slowly start to build equity. This route is going to take longer, but it is the best way to get in the game and build equity with less risk.
The other option you have is to over-pay for a property to get yourself started. Over-paying varies from person to person and property to property. If you are not a fan of sweat equity and putting in the work during your down time, then this is the path I discuss with other clients. Buying a property that is move in ready, exactly how you want it. In a perfect world, this will speed up your turn around time if the market values continue to increase, and your property value increases with it. I am a plan for the worst, but expect the best kind of person, which is why I always encourage the sweat equity route.
Again, each person and situation is different, but if you want to get in the game these are the two roads most travelled.