Becoming a homeowner is a huge accomplishment that benefits your family as well as the surrounding community. People who have moved from being renters to homeowners are more likely to keep up their home's appearance, involve themselves in the community, and are even more likely to vote. But owning a home is also a large commitment and you have to be willing to keep your end of that social contract.
You may think that closing on your new house is the end of the homeownership process. But the reality is, you’re only just now beginning the homeownership journey.
What follows is a rundown of the most important 5 ways to be a responsible homeowner:
5 ways to be a responsible homeowner
1 - Understand the major systems of your home
You don’t have to understand your home’s systems like a professional electrician, HVAC tech, or plumber, but you should have a basic understanding of the systems and their functionality. During the buying process, you will have a home inspector perform a home inspection where they will test and check all of your home’s systems. If you can, arrange to shadow the inspector during the inspection and will learn a lot about your home.
2 - Budget wisely
Buying your new home can be a pretty exciting time, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. You might be thinking about fully updating your kitchen and bathrooms, converting the family room into a home theater, building a deck across the entire back of the house, and going off-grid with solar panels. It’s important to resist the urge to go all in and do everything at once.
Owning a home is very different from renting, and you just spent a lot of hard-earned cash to get into your new home. The chances are your savings have been tapped out and you might even be spending more per month with the added expenses of homeownership.
That doesn’t mean you can’t dream big. One day you could gut and completely remodel that kitchen, and do all the other things as well. Just give yourselves some time to get used to your new life.
3 - Build up a basic tool kit
You don’t need a full-blown workshop, but you will need some basic tools to take care of the minor repairs that come up. Basic tools would be something like this:
- Work gloves
- Pliers, channel locks, vice grips, monkey wrench
- Set of screw drives (#1 and #2 flat head and phillips head, short and long-shanked)
- Measuring tape
- And more as you need them (i.e. PVC pipe cutting tool if/when you have a PVC pipe job to do)
- Another great addition to your tool kit is the best selling book, “Ultimate Guide to Home Repair and Improvement”
Related article: 5 Tools Every Homeowner Needs
4 - Don’t postpone repairs
As a homeowner, maintenance responsibilities are yours. You no longer have a landlord to call for a leaking faucet or broken toilet. Many projects and tasks can be done by homeowners like clearing clogged pipes, lawn care, replacing air filters, and clearing gutters. Use contractors for the heavy lifting and technical things like repairing or replacing your HVAC, electrical work, roofing, or structural repairs.
If you're working on saving money then you can postpone unnecessary projects like remodeling or update fixtures. But don’t put off any maintenance that compromises your personal safety or the safety of your house such as a leaky pipe that will lead to water damage and possibly a mold problem down the road. Maintaining your home will also keep expensive repairs to a minimum and will help you hold your home’s value or even increase it.
5 - Good record keeping
Homeownership involves quite a bit of paperwork and you can’t know when you will have to file an insurance warranty claim. You're going to want to know where your documents are when you need them. So, create a filing system to organize your receipts, warranty papers, legal documents, your closing documents, photographs for insurance purposes, etc. It would be ideal if you kept all of this protected in a fireproof documents box.
6 - Build up an emergency fund
Having some savings set aside as an emergency fund is the best defense for covering the costs of unexpected major repairs. Imagine if your roof began leaking or your air conditioning unit completely died in the middle of August. How nice would it be if you would be able to pay for this and put off the repair while you scrimped and saved to cover the costs? Also remember, insurance seldom covers all the expense from a casualty loss either. Just having some money put aside is better than none at all.
Call us at EP Realtors® and ask to speak with one of our experienced Realtors® about any of your real estate needs, (407) 704-8030.
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