Turning the key in a lock that no landlord (or parent) has access to, reading a good book in your very own veranda, painting the walls to your heart’s desire—what could be more exciting than taking the plunge and buying your very own home? Let the wonderful feeling sink in. Welcome to the Homeowner’s Club!
Now that the theatrics are out of the way, let’s get down to business. It’s easy for first-time homeowners to get swept up by all the excitement and make mistakes that could jeopardize what they worked so hard to earn. To avoid this, take a beat and consider the following ideas to ensure your new residence is the place of luxury and financial freedom you always dreamed of.
Don’t Overspend Just to Personalize
You’ve just spent A LOT of your savings on the downpayment, insurance, and moving expenses. Unless you’re a trust-fund baby, money is tight for every new homeowner and temptations to personalize your new home will arise. If you were a serial renter or family home-dweller, you are craving for an upgrade, but don’t go splurging on that marble countertop just yet. Don’t jeopardize your new homeowner status for that elegant oak slab table. Take the time to adjust to your new expenses that home ownership brings, hustle hard, and replenish your savings—that crochet hammock chair will still be there when you can afford it.
Don’t be shy, DIY
Ninety percent of a DIY (do it yourself) project is having the guts to try. Worst case scenario—you mess up and then bring in the professional. Best case—you save money, learn something new and feel a great sense of accomplishment. Better yet, turn your housewarming party into a DIY-themed event with friends and family. Do away with gifts and have your loved ones spend the day assembling a crate bookshelf or a custom herb garden while you feed them with their favorite dishes.
Prepping the House
Ideally, house work and renovations are done before moving all your belongings in. If time and budget allow, consider painting, flooring work, and cleaning before the move-in date. However, this writer believes it’s best to live in a house awhile before deciding on colors, carpeting, or a new kitchen backsplash. Every new home is a work in progress and requires that you get a feel of the place. Doing too much at once can be overwhelming and will kill the experience. Take a chill approach and live in your house for six months to a year. Who knows – it might grow on you.
Identify Potential Issues in Your New Home
One of the best homeowner maintenance tips is to detect minor problems before they become huge issues. After purchasing your home, take some time to learn about some of the common issues homes face, especially if you’ve purchased an older home or one that was unoccupied for a period of time. Being able to identify a potential problem early on could save you money later. Learn to recognize a leaky roof or foundation issues. Catch these issues early and you can prevent further damage to your home and save yourself a lot of headaches.
Hire Qualified Contractors
Don’t try to save money by doing certain things yourself unless you’re qualified. While it might seem like this slightly contradicts the first and second point, it really doesn’t. Your new home is just a residence and an investment, and requires the same level of care you would give to anything else you value. Go ahead and paint your walls yourself, put up some shelves, but if your lights are on the fritz, call an electrician. By hiring a professional, you are ensuring your home is in top condition. In addition, you’re ensuring you and your family’s safety.
Start an Emergency House Fund
You never know when something is going to go wrong or how much it is going to cost. A great homeowner tip is to start an emergency savings account as soon as possible. The longer you live in your home, the more likely you are to experience a surprise plumbing or roofing issue. Start saving early to take a little stress out of this typical homeowner experience.
Pay Attention to Your Energy Usage
Owning a home means paying your own utility bills. Pay attention to how your home is using energy and use the information to reduce your carbon footprint and save money. You’ll be surprised how small changes can affect your electric bill. Homeowner tips and tricks include opening up your home to natural sunlight, purchase only energy-efficient appliances, and switch to LED light bulbs.
With great freedom and homeownership comes great responsibilities. Manage your financial priorities and protect your investment. Don’t let the excitement of being a new homeowner lead you to bad decisions or oversights that jeopardize your financial or physical security.