Once all the papers are signed and you are given the keys, congratulations, you are officially a homeowner! While the paperwork and process may be behind you, there are still some important things to note, especially if you are a first time homeowner. To help get you started, we put together the most important things to note about caring for your new home, preparing for your finances and taxes, and how to handle any financial hardships that could come your way.
It takes a while to get used to a new house and starting some great habits from day one to caring for your new home can make a huge difference in the long run. The best way to keep your home functioning efficiently and well cared for is to have a plan up front. This plan should include cleaning as well as maintenance and it’s important to think of everything from your countertops to your HVAC.
Regardless of if your house is a new build or an older home, there are a few maintenance checks you should perform periodically. These help you get the most out of your appliances and home products. Here’s a helpful home maintenance checklist to keep handy:
- Clean gutters and drainpipes: check these regularly and clean out any leaves or debris you may find to help prevent any water from backing up.
- Check for signs of leakage: in obvious places and anywhere water runs. This includes faucets, the roof, around skylights, and even in crevices in the basement.
- Change or clean filters and vents: wherever you have vents like in heating systems, dryers, and even fans, to help keep clean air circulating and equipment functioning properly.
- Keep appliances clean: some of our most used appliances like refrigerators, freezers, and ovens take a beating and a simple cleaning and check can help these last.
- Seal any spots you feel a draft: like around doors, windows, and skylights. This helps prevent future water damage and helps keep your home temperature regulated and comfortable.
- Schedule maintenance appointments: especially for home heating and cooling systems and pool systems (if applicable). This equipment can be expensive if broken and the best way to ensure they last a long time is to have experts check on them periodically.
- Trim tree branches close to the house: to avoid any issues during storms. These include branches that are in close proximity as well as branches that are hanging over the house. Not only will this help you cut down on the amount of leaves and debris in your gutters, but it will also help protect you in the event of an extreme storm.
- Vacuum and dust your whole home: and not just common areas. Dust has a tendency to settle in hidden places and can damage the finishes on surfaces around the home and can reduce your air quality in the home.
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Buying a house is one of the most expensive purchases you’ll ever make and the financial commitments don’t stop at closing. In fact, after you receive your new keys, you may find yourself facing some upgrades, repairs, and major expenses right off the bat. The best ways to help prepare for this is to ensure you don’t give away all your money at closing so you can have some left over for inevitable expenses and to budget well in advance.
Big Purchases to Anticipate
Unless your house is a brand-new construction, you’ll likely have a few things you want to change or upgrade to fit your aesthetic and lifestyle once you move in. Towards the end of the home buying process, you’ll likely do a walk through with a home inspector and it is then that you can request specific repairs or other help from the sellers based on their findings.
In a perfect world, the sellers will fix everything on the list from the home inspection. If instead they do not fix everything on the list or you choose to forgo a home inspection prior to closing, you’ll likely want to make a few upgrades or repairs when you move in.
Another big expense to anticipate is upgrading and purchasing furniture and appliances. Especially when you’re upgrading to a larger house, filling the new home with furniture can be expensive. Couches, tables, and rugs can be cheap or pricey depending on your preferences, but they do tend to add up, particularly when you’re looking to furnish a whole new room.
While it may feel like a lot up front, it’s important to focus on what repairs and upgrades matter most to you first so you can avoid feeling pressured to make all big purchases or renovations on day one.
Remember back in the beginning of the home buying journey when your lender determined your qualification status based on your DTI ratio and residual income? While the monthly debt you incurred just a few months ago was easy to calculate, your new monthly bills may take a while to get used to as you are now in a new place with a new mortgage.
The main bills that will change after you buy a home are your mortgage statement, and your utilities. While you should know what to anticipate in terms of your monthly mortgage payments, utilities are harder to determine. When you upgrade to a larger home, it’s naturally going to cost more to heat or cool the space, and other factors like proximity to a city and weather in your new location can also make your utilities fluctuate. If you’re moving from a home without an HOA to a complex that includes monthly HOA fees, you may find yourself with an added expense you’ve never experienced before.
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Life happens and even if you plan to be financially secure after purchasing a home, an emergency or change in life can turn an otherwise stable situation into a dire one. If you find yourself facing financial hardship and are in need of some cash, you may want to consider the VA Cash-Out Refinance. This loan allows a veteran or active duty service member to tap into the equity in their home and pull out cash to use at their disposal.
Buying a house is a big financial decision and the best way to protect yourself is to build a safety net for the expenses that come after. This will not only give you a sense of security but it will help to set you and your family up for a successful and comfortable move.