Buying your first new home is exciting. From how to decorate to deciding who to invite over for a dinner party first, owning a new home comes with many decisions and fun times ahead. But owning a home means responsibility, too. For many homeowners, it’s easy to fall for some common mistakes. To learn three rookie homeowner traps you should avoid, read on.
1. Neglecting Upkeep and Repairs
Many new homeowners fall in love with older homes because of their charm and, often, price points. But what is new to you is not always so new from a functional standpoint. Older homes have heating systems, air conditioning systems, plumbing issues, and more that need immediate attention. Unfortunately, many new homeowners move into their older homes strapped for cash and don’t attend to the repairs and upgrades they should when they first move in.
Many homeowners put off heater repair, boiler cleanings, and septic checks simply because they didn’t budget for them or because they’re too caught up in the excitement of a new home. But making air conditioners, heating, furnace repair, and other major system treatments and checks a priority will pay off in the long run. Calling a heating technician for a furnace cleaning, for example, could be far less expensive than a hot water heater replacement or bigger heating repair down the road. Take the time to fix those home cooling and heating systems now and you’ll thank yourself for it later.
2. Overextending Finances
When buying a home, the best option is to set money aside for things like plumbing, heating, and cooling needs upfront. At the very minimum, you’ll want to be sure you don’t entirely drain your savings account for your down payment. That is, buying a house while you’re in debt is not the best option when it comes to setting yourself up for successful homeownership.
Unfortunately, whether it’s because of the housing market, bidding wars, or even something different like a large car loan or student debt, many go buy a new home without savings. If this is your situation, the good news is that there are financial advisors who can work with you to come up with a budget.
Look at your credit utilization, monthly budget, payment history on your biggest loan, and more. Refinancing some repayment plans or tackling those credit card balances one at a time will help you fix your financial situation fast if you don’t ignore it. In the end, getting back on track will make homeownership all the better.
3. Too Many Changes Too Soon
It’s easy to take on too much, too fast. The same way you dump the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle out on a table, you’ll want to make a bunch of changes to your house all at once. But you have to start with the edges. Get to know your home before you prioritize projects and fill in the middle f the puzzle. Take a look at your house expenses. Once you have a budget and have been in your new home for a few months, you’ll want to prioritize those projects, but not sooner. When you first move in, take time to learn your new homeowner patterns. You may quickly discover you don’t eat out as much and your time is spent in the kitchen. Or, you could decide that the gravel driveway needs paving. But the only way to know what you’ll want to tackle first is to live with it. Instead of taking on too many projects too fast, take a step back and time to enjoy your home, flaws, and all.
In the end, a home is a work in progress. There will be plenty of time down the road for changes and upgrades. Pay down debt, make those repairs, and set realistic priorities. In taking these simple first steps, you can avoid many of the rookie homeowner mistakes that’ll cost you a fortune. Congratulations on your new home! Don’t forget to put out the welcome mat.