Five Things Homeowners Should Know

1. Expect an adjustment to the costs of home ownership.

For many first-time homeowners, the adjustment to the costs of owning a home can feel unexpected and expensive. Going from renting where most maintenance and upkeep costs are covered by a landlord to footing the bill yourself can come as a surprise. 

In addition to the basic costs of a mortgage payment, property taxes, and homeowners insurance, other costs to consider are homeowners’ association costs, lawn care, energy costs, insurance deductibles, and more. 

2. Plan for maintenance, repairs, and improvements.

Experts recommend aiming for an annual savings rate of 1% of the home’s total value to prepare for and offset these costs. If the home is valued at $300,000, plan to save 1%, around $3,000 per year or $250 per month to cover the costs of owning the home. When there’s a cushion of savings set aside, having to replace a hot water heater or meet a $1,000 deductible for a roof repair won’t sting as badly.

By carefully and methodically keeping your home in maintained, repaired, and improved condition, you are ensuring that your asset is well taken care of for your own future enjoyment or ready to sell without a lot of work needing to be completed beforehand. 

3. Have a team of professionals to assist you. 

While some repairs and general maintenance can easily be DIY’d, to ensure that work on your home is done properly it’s usually best to bring in the professionals. Skills like electrical work, plumbing, and HVAC often require specialized training. Use sites like ThumbTack, Angi, or Home Advisor to direct you to competent, local providers. If you are new to an area and aren’t sure which pros may be reliable or not, your real estate agent likely has some recommendations to pass along. 

In addition to the tactical home improvement professionals you may need, don’t forget about also having an honest and dependable insurance agent and accountant who will be invaluable in making sure your home and other assets are best represented during tax season. 

4. Set up systems of documentation.

One area that many first-time homeowners overlook is the idea of setting up proper systems of record-keeping and documentation for their homes. This will look different for each household. Perhaps it’s simply a small box or binder where you keep instruction manuals and warranty information for large appliances and paper copies of home maintenance or service records. For others, it might be a digital file with scanned copies of the same. 

As the years roll by and your memory may not be as reliable as you had hoped, having a system for documenting all things home-related will be a huge help. Saving and storing this information will also help you to access names and contact information for home servicing needs quickly when certain items need repeat maintenance. Having your system set up ahead of time will make maintaining it much simpler. 

5. Remember your home is one of your biggest investments. 

Finally, remember that for most people, their home is one of their largest and most important financial investments and it should be treated as such. From personalizing your space and making it your own, to keeping up with repairs, if you care for your home well it will care for you well in return. 

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