So, You Just Bought A House
Guest post via Trisha Miller
Owning your first home is both an exciting and nerve-wracking endeavor. There a lot of things to factor in before you take the dive into homeownership, but once you sign the paperwork there is something incredibly empowering about being a first-time homeowner. However, since many of us plan on owning our home for 5, 15, or even 30 plus years, you should know that having the key in your hand isn’t the last step of owning a home - it’s the first. Here are a few things you can start doing immediately in order to make your homeownership a breeze, even 30 years from now.
Homeownership is unpredictable. Even if you think you have a nice little nest egg, it’s always a good idea to continuously add to your savings account. If you’re like me, you didn’t have barely anything saved when you bought your house (and you bought your house quite young - I was 25 at the time). This can and will lead to situations where you’re forced to take out loans, additional credit cards, or ask family members for money.
Things will go wrong, but they can always be fixed - at a cost. For example, last year I had a major pipe breakage occur in my front yard. Depending on your home insurance and depending on where the problem occurs, some insurance may not include property damage such as this within your coverage. In addition, the city I live in wouldn’t cover the cost because it was about 5 feet under the surface of my property. So, I was forced to call a plumber and fork out a couple thousand dollars in repair costs - not pretty.
Of course, this is a very strange scenario that doesn’t happen everyday, but you never know when you might have a more common problem, like a faulty light switch or leaky faucet. In addition, if your house is a few years old, like mine, you’ll need to think about the age of your appliances, including sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. You should have enough money in the bank to cover any reasonable issue that comes up. Some of these may or may not be covered by your insurance plan, which brings me to my next point.
Opt for (the Right) Insurance
You can’t own a home without getting insurance, but you do have control over what type of insurance you get. Chances are, if you bought your house already then you have homeowners insurance, but if you aren’t locked into some kind of contract with your insurance company it’s a good idea to look around at what others are offering too. Homeowners insurance packages can vary wildly from company to company. Take your time checking out what each package entails.
Many groups will offer an additional home warranty, which is a fantastic option that every homeowner should take advantage of during the first year or more of their homeownership. Basically, the warranty will cover many issues, such as the ones listed above, when things break in your house. Your home will have to be inspected before you move in, which will likely catch items that are due for repair. Although, things do slip in-between the cracks and after dropping so much dough on your new abode, you probably don’t want to shell out any more if you don’t have to.
Home warranties are often included in your home insurance package and are free for the first year, but even if it’s not, it’s likely a low price that is well worth it. You can also usually extend your warranty after your first year of ownership, which can take a lot of stress of your shoulders if you’re trying to build up a nice savings.
Keep Organized Records
Create a filing system that works for you. Inexperienced buyers and disorganized folks, like myself, may overlook this step, but it is one of the best tips for new homeowners out there. Even if you plan on owning your home for just a few short years, you’ll need records of every repair done to the home during your stay. When you go to sell the house, you are required to give the new owners information about every repair that was done so they can ensure it was completed properly.
What’s more, after a few years, it may be hard to keep track of which renovations and repairs were completed at what time. Some jobs will come with lifetime or limited warranties, which you will want to take advantage of. If their work doesn’t hold up like it should, you shouldn’t be required to pay for the same job twice.
Lastly, if you decide to do some major renovations down the line, it could mean great things in two different ways for you. First, big projects will usually boost the selling price of your home. This means, you’ll want to keep a record of everything you did so you can back up exactly why your asking price for the home is higher than what you bought it for. Secondly, if you make your home greener or more energy efficient in any way you might be entitled to a tax credit. Keeping a record of those changes will make it much easier to complete your taxes properly and get the tax credit you deserve.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have all of the above tips in order just yet. Owning a home is a process and some of these things just take time. Simply taking the steps necessary to purchase your own home is an achievement that should be celebrated. Going forward, pick one task to focus on and set a goal for when you’d like to have it finished. Before you know it you’ll have everything you need to make homeownership a walk in the park!