Adjustments That Take New Homeowners by Surprise

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Being a first-time homeowner is so exciting. It marks a transition into a new phase of life. For many individuals, buying a home means they’re ready to start a family. Or, it could mark a major financial improvement in their life. With that in mind, there are two things that you can never really be totally prepared for: parenthood and home ownership. Your home will feel like your new baby, constantly requiring attention and challenging your patience. Here are adjustments that take new homeowners by surprise.

Nobody will fix it but you

You may not have realized just how many things needed to be repaired around your apartment or rental property, because your landlord handled those. You noticed it when something inside your actual unit required attention, but there were a lot of other problems going on outside your unit—from the laundry room to the parking structure to tree overgrowth—that you never even knew about. Now that you own your whole structure, you’ll learn about those quickly, and you’ll realize that you can’t put them on somebody else. It’s up to you to fix them or find someone to fix them, and you should research reputable companies to do so.

Bill overload

Your landlord likely picked up a few bills for you like garbage collection, sewer, and possibly water. Suddenly, your mailbox may fill up with bills you hadn’t even thought about. So, be sure to research the cost of all of these services—from garbage collection to landscaping—and make room for those in your budget.

Service providers will come knocking

A “Sold” sign and moving boxes tell the handy workers, landscapers, and other home care service providers in your neighborhood that a new potential client has moved in. So they’ll come knocking, trying to make sure you hire them. Hear them out, but also do your research to make sure they’re legitimate. It’s best to ask some of the long-time residents on your street who they go to for such repairs and services.

A good neighbor relationship is important

Maybe you barely took the time to get to know your neighbors in your apartment building or rental property because you knew you wouldn’t be staying long. But it’s important to get to know your neighbors when you buy a home. They can help you with so many things later, like pet care, child care, notifying you of hazards in the neighborhood, or just lending you some batteries during a power outage.

You’ll take an interest in HOA meetings

You’ll become that person you never thought you’d be—that person your mom or dad was—who is at every homeowner’s association meeting, with a list of concerns and comments. You finally have a little power in your hands to address things that bother you about your neighborhood, like streets that need speed bumps or blocks that need better streetlights.

You should get homeowners insurance

You’ll need homeowners insurance. There’s no getting around that, nor should there be, because it can truly be the reason you get to stay in your house should disaster strike. Disaster, by the way, could range from a flood to a robbery. So make sure you’re covered for all of the worst-case scenarios. But know that you may need to put aside a couple thousand dollars for the premium.

Insurance is a responsibility

Homeowners insurance comes with a lot of responsibility because, if your provider doesn’t believe you’re taking good care of your home then, just like a doctor who sees you smoking cigarettes, they’ll raise your premium. On that note, should your home require repairs, you’ll probably need to do those right away. Delaying repairs can be a red flag to your insurance company, and they could increase your premium.

The maintenance never ends

The maintenance doesn’t only apply to major things like plumbing issues. There are little things like patching up light fixtures, cutting down weeds, and mowing the lawn. Maintaining a home is almost a full-time job, but it can be worth it when you get the hang of it.

But don’t hire someone for every fix

Don’t get in the habit of hiring someone to fix every little thing. You can do things like mow your own lawn, or clean your own pool. There are thousands of DIY tutorial videos online to help you do things like patch up a leaky hose or switch out a light fixture. Hiring someone to do every little thing adds up.

Thermostat costs are through the roof

Your power bill may shock you because you’re cooling or heating a much larger space. This could be a good time to install a smart thermostat, and spend some time thinking about your habits and temperature needs, and scheduling the thermostat accordingly. Needlessly running the air conditioning in a house where no one is home, for even a few hours, can result in a big power bill.

Homeownership is, for the most part, very freeing. You’re free to renovate and decorate however you like, and you’re no longer at the mercy of a landlord’s decisions. But, that freedom comes at a price that it’s best to be prepared for.

Posted on Wednesday, August 1st, 2018