After months of house hunting, you finally found the home that works for your budget and needs. Congrats! For many, becoming a homeowner is the equivalent of achieving the American Dream. It’s also one of the largest financial investments anyone will ever make. For this reason, it’s especially important for new homeowners to start off on the right foot. From finding a reliable handyman to understanding your property taxes, here are 15 essential tips to make your first homeownership experience a success.
Find a reliable handyman
One of the best things you can do for yourself (and for your house) is to find a reliable and trustworthy handyman to help with home projects. A good handyman should be a “jack of all trades,” who is able to help with a number of home service needs. From hanging artwork to installing light fixtures, you’ll need someone to assist with various tasks once you move in. For advice on how to find a trustworthy handyman and other service professionals, read our tips here.
Get to know your neighbors
Meeting your next-door neighbors is one of the most important things you can do once you move in. After all, you never know when you’ll need a good neighbor to grab the mail or water the plants when you’re out of town. Establishing good rapport with neighbors also goes a long way in making your day-to-day living situation more enjoyable. For advice on how to meet your neighbors, read our tips here.
Take your time with renovation projects
Want to make changes to the home? We recommend taking it one project at a time as opposed to carrying out a massive renovation all at once. This way, you’ll be able to save money and pay for projects as you go. It also helps to first live in the house to see what it is you really need and want to change. That way, you’ll be able to better prioritize renovation projects. For advice on how to budget for a renovation, read our tips here.
Keep all home warranties and manuals in a safe place
As a new homeowner, you’re going to inherit a number of appliance manuals and warranties (that is – if they’re still under warranty). Make sure to keep all of these in an organized folder, so you’ll be able to find them whenever necessary. In addition, you’ll need to pass on any new and existing warranty information and manuals to the new homeowners, if and when you sell the house.
Change the locks before you move in
Don’t wait to change the locks. We recommend hiring a locksmith, changing the locks and getting new keys before you move into the home. After all, there’s no telling who has a key to the home. Former homeowners could have given out keys to babysitters, service professionals, friends and neighbors. Just to be safe, go ahead and change the locks before moving your precious belongings inside.
Replace air filters regularly
Breathing dirty air isn’t healthy for you or your family. If the home was sitting on the market without owners living inside, then chances are good that those air filters haven’t been changed in a while. Dirt and dust accumulate in the filters over time, making your HVAC system less efficient overall. Fortunately, you should be able to find replacement filters at your local hardware store. For more advice on HVAC maintenance, read our tips here.
Paint the house before you move in
There’s nothing more inconvenient than having to paint a home while you’re living inside. Not only will the house be swarming with professional painters throughout the day, but you’ll also have to smell and breath in those less than pleasant paint fumes. To avoid this inconvenience, go ahead and schedule the painters to repaint the walls before the move takes place.
Maintain an emergency fund for unexpected home problems
As a new homeowner, you should be prepared to deal with unexpected (and expensive) problems that might arise with the home. These problems could include your AC system dying, plumbing problems, mold problems, pest problems and structural issues. Unfortunately, fixing these problems is typically costly. It’s helpful to have a safety net – or emergency fund – set up to pay for these type of home problems.
Focus on improvements that will give you the most bang for your buck
Looking to renovate the home? In addition to taking your time with home projects, it’s also a good idea to focus on improvements that will give you the most return on your investment. Examples of projects that typically yield a good return include an updated kitchen, a neutral paint job, an outdoor deck and a bathroom remodel. For more advice on the most valuable home improvements, read our tips here.
Choose your homeowners insurance provider carefully
Finding a good homeowners insurance policy is one of the most important things you can do when you own a home. This type of coverage should provide financial protection from structural damage due to natural disasters (think: a fire or tornado). In addition, having good homeowners insurance will provide you with much-needed peace of mind. For advice on homeowners insurance, read our tips here.
Do a deep clean of the home prior to moving in
It’s unlikely that the former owners had their home professionally cleaned prior to moving out. From scrubbing toilets and disinfecting bathroom surfaces to cleaning the sink and mopping the floors, there are a number of things should be cleaned before moving your furniture and belongings inside. To ensure that you start things out on the right foot (and with a clean slate), we highly recommend giving the home a deep clean prior to moving in. For advice on how to give your home a deep clean, read our tips here.
Take advantage of the tax benefits
Believe it or not, there are number of tax breaks and financial benefits that go along with owning a home. One major tax benefit of homeownership is the mortgage interest deduction, which “allows you to reduce your taxable income by the amount of money you’ve paid in mortgage interest during the year,” according to Nerdwallet.com. For more advice on taking advantage of the financial benefits of homeownership, read our tips here.
Perform a home energy audit
Upon moving into your new home, we recommend scheduling an energy audit as soon as possible. Offered by many utility companies, these audits assess the energy efficiency of the home. After a full assessment has been completed, the utility company will provide you with valuable advice for improving the home’s overall efficiency. Of course, it doesn’t take much to properly energy-proof your home. For advice on low-cost ways to improve energy efficiency (and save money on utility bills), read our tips here.
Plant shade trees
Speaking of energy efficiency, one of the best ways to save money on cooling bills (and improve your landscaping at the same time) is to plant shade trees along the exterior of your home. These shade trees will reduce the amount of sunlight that enters your home, keeping it cooler during the summer months. Adding trees will also improve the air quality surrounding your house.
Be prepared to pay property taxes
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of property taxes when purchasing a home. Your property taxes will be determined by your county’s tax rates and the assessed value of your home. When creating an annual budget, it’s very important that you factor in these property taxes, so you don’t end up with a bill you can’t pay. For advice on calculating your property taxes, read our tips here.
Of course, one of the best things that a new homeowner can do is to hire reputable movers to get from point A to point B. Fortunately, Our extensive network of reliable movers makes it easy to book the best moving company for the job. All relocation companies in our network are licensed and insured, so you can rest assured that your move will be in good hands. Best of luck and happy moving!