Your first year of owning a home is a whirlwind— you go from looking at your dream home to signing on the dotted line and becoming a homeowner. Once you’re handed the keys to your new home, you have to worry about moving expenses, securing insurance, and getting settled in and unpacked. With so many new things happening around you while you’re getting used to your new home, it’s easy to forget a few minor things here or there your first year. However, there are a few mistakes you should avoid making that most first-time homeowners often overlook.
Taking on New Debt
The first year in your home, try not to take on large sums of new debt while you’re acclimating to homeownership. Once you’ve become accustomed to the changes in your monthly bills, which can include higher monthly utility bills, a mortgage payment, and property taxes, then you’ll likely be better prepared to assess your financial situation to decide if you have the money in your budget to take on additional debt. You should also remember not to neglect your emergency savings, which can come in handy if there’s an unexpected expense that comes up, which can happen when you own a home.
Jumping into Renovations
Now that you no longer have to answer to a landlord, you don’t need permission to hang up shelves or photos, paint your living room, or get a pet. With all this newfound freedom to do whatever you want around your house, it can be tempting to start major renovation projects to make your house feel more like a home. However, unless there’s something that needs immediate attention to make your home safe and livable, it might be best to hold off on any projects the first year. Often, major home renovations come with hefty price tags, and unless you previously budgeted for a remodel in your housing budget when you purchased your home, you may end up over your head in a project that can’t be completed until you have more money.
If you’re lucky, the prior owner of the home will leave you a helpful list or file with information about major appliances around the home, when and where they were purchased, and the schedule they followed to keep them in good working condition. Many first-time homeowners forget to follow a routine maintenance schedule their first year because they likely never had to worry about things like air conditioning or heating maintenance, fireplace cleaning and inspection, and gutter cleaning. However, if you neglect to keep a maintenance schedule around your home, you may wind up with an unexpected repair, which can cost you more than regular maintenance.
Trying to Do it All Yourself
Nobody ever said that owning a home is easy right from the start, and many homeowners are often challenged with minor repairs around the home, such as leaky toilets, clogged garbage disposals, and blown fuses. Some of the easier repairs can be done yourself and might even teach you a new skill that can come in handy from time to time. When it comes to larger repairs such as a busted furnace, broken water heater, or plumbing problem, these jobs may be best left to the professionals. You may want to try to save money by making repairs yourself, but if you don’t know what you’re doing you could only make the problem worse, and the overall cost to make the repair more expensive.
You have years to be a homeowner, plan for and take on new renovation and remodeling projects around your home. Enjoy your first year in your new place and use the time to adjust to homeowner living by keeping these tips in mind, which can help reduce stress and make the transition from renter to homeowner go more smoothly.