A single-family home is a home that only has one residence assigned to it. For example, a duplex is considered a multi-family home because more than one residences exist within the building's design.

A starter home is often referred to as a family's first home, with enough features to meet a family's needs without being overwhelming. As you look for a starter home among all the single-family homes available in your market, it's easy to get lost in the options available to you. Talk to your real estate agent about what you should look for in a starter home when shopping for single-family homes.

An affordable price

You want to buy a home that won't stretch your budget too far. In general, your home's mortgage should not be higher than 28% of your monthly earnings, so calculate your monthly earnings before taxes and figure out your budget for a home's monthly payment prior to going shopping for single-family homes in your area. An affordable family home will have a mortgage, including taxes and insurance, of 28% of your monthly earnings or less.

If a house is just out of your budget, you can still buy the property if you have a larger down payment: the more money you put down on a home, the lower the mortgage rate will be. Your real estate agent and your home lender will help you figure out how much house you can afford.

A resale value

You want to buy a home that you can put some equity into since a starter home is not likely to be your forever home. On average, people live in their starter homes for around five years or so before buying real estate elsewhere. You want to buy a starter home that will continue to grow in value and not cost you a lot of money to upkeep so you can recoup a lot of your investment — and possibly make a profit — if you choose to sell the home in the future.

If you buy a starter home that doesn't need any work or that is in a good neighborhood, the equity you put into the property will mostly be just be money you put into your mortgage. Your real estate agent can be a great guide to help you select a home for resale value if you don't plan on making your starter home the house you will live in for the long term. Write down what you want in single-family homes for sale in your area before you go house shopping.