As Windsor real estate agents, we see lots of people this time of year making the decision to buy their first home. And who can blame them? With house prices rising yet interest rates still low, buyers recognize that this may be as good as it gets.
I am often asked what advice I would give homeowners, after they sign on the dotted line. Whether it’s their first home or not, I believe I can offer some helpful suggestions to make owning a home less stressful and certainly more fun. How often have we heard, or uttered ourselves:
“I wish I would have done this!”
“Why didn’t someone tell me about that?”
So here is some of the best advice I can give when you walk into the front door for the first time as a homeowner.
1. Keep up on repairs. Walk around your home monthly to see if you see anything looks amiss. Take care of it before it becomes a bigger problem and expense. Ignoring any repair issue means it has the potential to create havoc and a big drain to your wallet.
- Water is your number one enemy and is known as 90 percent of a homeowner’s problems. Always inspect bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, basements, foundations and roofs. Make sure water is draining at least 5 feet from the foundation. Clean your gutters!
- Check your roof periodically, especially if it is more than 12 years old. Don’t climb on the roof, but examine with binoculars to see if there are missing shingles or other issues.
2. Keep all important warranties and receipts for appliances and repairs neatly filed. This way, when there is a problem you will know where to find the answer.
3. Know where your breaker box is located and make certain that each is correctly labeled with a permanent marker. The last thing you want to be looking for when you need it is the breaker box.
4. And the same can be said with your main water and electrical shut-off. When going through a home inspection, ask the inspector where they are located.
5. Find a list of repair people by asking friends and family for recommendations. Keep the numbers in a file so when that emergency does occur, and at some point in a homeowners life an emergency WILL appear, you will be ready to call.
6. Be a good neighbour. Introduce yourself and develop a good relationship as there will be times when you need advice, or maybe to have someone watch your property when you leave. It also makes living in a home so much fun and stress free when you have neighbours you can trust and enjoy.
7. Don’t go overboard with buying for your new home right away. Take your time and don’t feel you need to furnish every room if you don’t have the finances or if you are unsure what you want. Buyers that get in too deep right away will miss the joy that owning a home can bring. Take your time.
8. Adjust your life insurance coverage to make sure it can cover your mortgage expense. This is especially necessary if you have a family. While this is never a fun subject to consider, it can give you peace of mind.
9. While it’s unfortunate, it’s also true that first time homebuyers are prey for scammers. Be careful of those contractors whose offers sounds too good to be true, want payment in full before the job starts or don’t get the proper permits. Don’t hire any contractors that show up uninvited to your door. Also, watch out for home security alarm scams. Research, get recommendations and don’t sign anything until you are absolutely sure you are getting the work you pay for.
10. Get proper homeowner’s insurance that will fully replace the property in case of total loss. Too many times we have seen buyers not get the amount of coverage they should have simply to save money. Talk to a professional and respected insurance agent in your area to find out exactly what type of coverage you need.
Owning a home allows a buyer great freedom, but also means great responsibilities. Getting familiar with your home takes some time, as it doesn’t happen overnight. But knowing what makes your house tick and when it doesn’t gives you a head start if anything goes wrong. Also, make sure you are properly insured and careful with your finances. This means that you can stay away from oversights and bad decisions that can jeopardize your financial security.