14 Tips for New Homeowners
Style My Soul explores, “What is one tip you have for first-time homeowners?”
Pay Attention to Storage Space
It may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but storage space can make or break your experience when moving into a new house. With insufficient space to store your belongings, you’ll only end up feeling cramped and uncomfortable. But if you have plenty of cabinets, built-in shelving, or under-bed storage space, you’ll be able to keep things organized and tidy. In the long run, this is exactly what sets a house apart from a home and makes spaces feel more spacious.
- Jess Rodley, Director of Operations, Dialed Labs
Change the Locks
Change the locks, just in case. Even if the previous owner gave you their key, someone else could have a copy of this key that the owner had forgotten about. This way, you know that only you have the correct key for your new house, making you feel safer.
- Miles Beckett, Co-Founder and CEO, Flossy
Schedule Regular Insurance Assessments
Many first-time homeowners believe that their insurance needs are fixed, but in reality, they can change, and this is why it is important to schedule a reassessment of your needs over regular intervals. Though it may appear that certain types of insurance may be static, changes in surrounding areas can impact the need for different coverage. Zoning laws, new housing construction, repairs to sewage and river channels, and other changes can impact every risk factor from flooding to fire. Therefore, it is important for new homeowners to do a full assessment of their insurance needs every year in order to adjust to any new conditions. By doing a full insurance inventory and considering any recent changes to your property or the surrounding area, you can ensure that you are fully covered for any circumstances that may arise. - David Derigiotis, CIO, Embroker
Get a Home Inspection
Write a contingency for a home inspection in your offer. Then, pay for a home inspection. Hopefully, everything will check out fine with the house. But if there’s something seriously wrong with the house, you’ll have a way out of the contract. Home inspectors will almost always find something wrong. There may be a crack in a window or a place where the carpet is loose. You can expect a house that’s been lived in to have problems like that, and you can either live with it or request that the seller fixes those things. But sometimes, a home inspection will reveal an unstable foundation, a termite infestation, dangerous mold, or other significant problems that can cause you to rethink your desire to purchase the property. It’s in your best interest to know before you buy rather than to become stuck with a disaster beyond your ability to fix. -Michelle Robbins, Licensed Insurance Agent, Clearsurance
Know Your Neighbors
You never know when you’ll need their help, such as when you’re on a trip and need someone to pick up and hold onto any packages left at your door to prevent them from getting stolen. Furthermore, your neighbors may also need your help in similar situations. Befriending your neighbors will contribute to a supportive neighborhood environment.
- Drew Sherman, Director of Marketing and Communications, RPM
Be Prepared to Get Off the Couch
One joy (and drag) of home ownership is that you have more control. You may not have built the structure yourself, but everything inside of it, everything planted around it, and every part of the presentation of it is controlled by you — and it’s a lot of work.
It’s an extension of you, and it generates a desire for you to get up off the couch and go trim the hedges or lay a fresh layer of mulch along the flowerbeds. It gives you an outlet for hard work and even a little creativity. There’s something rewarding about that, but it can also lead to a long list of responsibilities. Most homeowners will say that the rewards outweigh the downsides, but there is no doubt that owning a home is a double-edged sword. There is a lot of work involved in it. - Sean Doherty, GM, Box Genie
Learn About Mortgage Refinancing
As a first-time homeowner, I learned that you never know when you might need to refinance your mortgage. Whether you are looking for a better flexible rate or you are just not in tune with your initial mortgage provider, there will always be reasons to get refinanced. So, it is important to take some time to learn about your options, how refinancing works, and whether or not you indeed need it. Now, this is not to say that you should get refinanced, but it helps to know that you have the options and the knowledge you need to navigate through the process to the best of your ability. Besides, as a homeowner, you will be bombarded by so many mortgage refinance solicitations. At least when you have the right knowledge, it will be much easier to decipher which options are most appropriate for you. - Erik Pham, CEO, Health Canal
Set Up Calendar Alerts Years in Advance
There are certain home maintenance tasks that you need to do regularly, but that might mean doing them every few years, which makes it super easy to forget. By setting up recurring Google Calendar alerts to check your water heater, replace your air filters, clean your chimney, etc., you’ll make it a lot easier on yourself to actually remember to do the preventative maintenance that will save you a ton of money or health problems down the line, such as the ever-present respiratory illnesses that are all too common in households that don’t clean their air filters regularly. - Kate Kandefer, CEO, SEOwind
Save Physical Copies of Your Paperwork
After purchasing a house, it’s very important that you keep your paperwork in order for your records. Cloud-based storage is okay for filing documents, but you should always keep physical copies of your closing disclosure, mortgage statements, and other important documents locked in a safe. Be sure that anyone else named on your loans is aware of the whereabouts of these documents and how to retrieve them in case of an emergency. - Andrew Chen, Chief Product Officer, Videeo
Inspect the Wiring and Get Experienced Help
One tip for first-time homeowners is to inspect the electrical wiring of a property before closing. Having an experienced electrician review the location of outlets, switch boxes, fuse boxes, and cords can help identify potential hazards and prevent costly installation or repair expenses down the road. An opaque window material that allows natural light while blocking harmful UV rays can also be beneficial when considering window treatments — this less-common option could save energy costs over time and keep furniture from fading in direct sunlight. In both cases, ensuring quality products are used will make all the difference in establishing lasting safety and efficiency at your new home. - Grace He, People and Culture Director, TeamBuilding
Live Through All Seasons Before Changing Landscaping
New homeowners may be eager to change and improve their landscaping, but they will serve themselves best by holding off and first living in the home through one of each season. Natural weather conditions, directions of the rising and setting sun, and even the way water flows after rains will provide important guidance. Consider, for example, how certain elements in place, such as the neighbor’s big tree, create a surprise shadow. The hoped-for rose bushes may be diminished, and wouldn’t it be great to know that before those expensive and delicate flowers are planted? Gardens that are dreamed of can also be surveyed around the neighborhood, asking about some of the successful lawn treatments and, not to be avoided, asking about failures that you don’t want to repeat with the same soil. And, take the time to observe contractors that your neighbors hire. Perhaps you will meet your new team or some that have earned a “no thanks.”
This priceless education is available right outside your door. - Ashley Kenny, Founder, Heirloom
Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst
One tip I have for first-time homebuyers is to budget and plan for unexpected expenses that may come up after purchasing the home. It’s important to remember that having that first home comes with ongoing maintenance costs such as buying a lawnmower, hedge trimmer, patching drywall from active children, etc. and repairs (hello, water heater anyone?) that can add up quickly. There’s also the question of varying utility costs that can be quite surprising for a long-term renter. To prepare for unexpected expenses, create an emergency fund that can cover at least three to six months’ worth of expenses, including utilities and repairs. By budgeting and planning for unexpected expenses, first-time homebuyers can better prepare for the costs of homeownership and avoid financial stress down the road. - Shawn Harris, CEO, UniqueGiftCards
Be Realistic About Your Budget
For first-time homeowners, my tip would be to set a realistic budget. It is easy to be overwhelmed by all the possibilities when buying a new house, so take a step back and set a budget.
Prioritize what is most important to you and don’t forget to include a buffer for unexpected expenses. Additionally, research the area and the market before you begin your search so that you can find the best deal. This can help save you a lot of money and provide peace of mind. - Michael Lazar, Executive, ReadyCloud
Take Advantage of Assistance Programs
Before purchasing a home, look into first-time homebuyer assistance programs. Many states help people who haven’t bought a home before. Examples include low-interest mortgages, down payment assistance, and help with closing costs. Depending on where you live, you may also receive a tax credit as well. Do your research ahead of time, so you don’t end up paying more than you need to. - Andrew Meyer, CEO, Arbor
Style My Soul Explores …
“What are some behavioral red flags when interviewing job candidates for a role?”
Lacking Excitement for the Position
Although this one is a little more difficult to gauge, a lack of excitement is one of the red flags that I look for in an interview. Having a positive work culture is extremely important to our company, as we want our team to not only enjoy being a part of our company but look forward to their responsibilities and serving our customers.
A candidate who does not smile during an interview, does not greet me warmly, speaks negatively about their past work experience, or just has an overall downtrodden vibe, is a definite red flag.
It is a priority for us to keep the positive work culture that we have thriving, and recognizing a lack of excitement in a candidate in an interview could represent a potential negative employee, and that is all the rationalization I need to eliminate a questionable candidate. -- David Derigiotis, CIO, Embroker
Hopping From Job to Job
If you see a lot of stops on a candidate’s resume, that might raise a red flag. If someone works at a job for six months at one place, 12 months at another place, 18 months somewhere else, etc., you have every right to wonder whether the candidate has any staying power. I’ve seen candidate resumes with 10 or more job stints that lasted a year or less, and each time I see such a trend, I don’t give that candidate a second thought. That’s a clear-cut sign the candidate lacks commitment; they pull the ejection handle at the first whiff of boredom, conflict, or intimidation. A few short stints on a resume is fine, but five or more should raise a red flag.
-- Brittany Dolin, Co-Founder, Pocketbook Agency
Beware of tangents, and especially interruptions. Were you required to interrupt the candidate’s long-winded stories in order to move the interview along? That’s a red flag. It’s your responsibility to bring a person into the office who will fit well into the environment. You don’t want to be the person who unleashed the person who would not stop talking or inserting themselves into conversations. Unless you’re willing to coach them out of this behavior because of their other positive attributes, a candidate who doesn’t come across too strongly will save you a headache later. -- Jonathan Zacharias, Founder, GR0
Not adhering to a basic code of appearance may show problems with motivation, such as a lack of care or respect for their potential new employer as well as themselves. This would lead to having to rationalize eliminating the candidate shortly after, because acceptable attire and honorability are vital in any professional field. -- Carly Hill, Operations Manager, Virtual Holiday Party
Speaking Negatively About Past Employers or Colleagues
Candidates who repeatedly complain about their experiences may also show a lack of gratitude or perspective, and may not be the best fit for a team-oriented work environment. It’s important to probe and ask follow-up questions to understand the context behind their negative experiences, but if their attitude is consistently negative, it may be a sign that they are not a good fit for the role or the company culture. One thing that we at Leena AI always keep in mind is to evaluate candidates on cultural fit. We consider the candidate’s personality, communication style, and work ethic. Do they align with the company culture and values and will they work well with the team and be a good fit? -- Sanya Nagpal, Head of Human Resources, Leena AI
Swearing in an interview isn’t necessarily an indicator that a candidate will be a poor employee; however, it shows a lack of awareness and poor judgment. Candidates should know swearing did not bother some people, but there are many who find it offensive and unprofessional. A candidate should always go into an interview intending to put their best foot forward (first impressions are everything), and should understand that certain words are off limits.
-- Dakota McDaniels, Chief Product Officer, Pluto
Displaying a Lack of Accountability
One behavioral red flag to look out for during a job interview is a candidate’s lack of accountability for their actions or behavior. This could include blaming others for mistakes or refusing to take ownership of their work. This can be a significant concern because it suggests that the candidate may not be reliable or trustworthy in the workplace. If you encounter a candidate who displays this behavior during an interview, you might eliminate them from your search. However, it’s essential to remember that no candidate is perfect, and it’s important to evaluate each candidate based on the specific needs and requirements of the role you are hiring for. Before making a final decision, consider additional factors, such as the candidate’s experience, skills, and overall fit with the company culture. It’s also a good idea to verify the candidate’s references and conduct a background check if necessary to help you make a more informed decision. -- Jason Moss, President and Co-Founder, Moss Technologies
Asking the Same Question Repeatedly
Encourage questions in an interview, but if you notice a candidate is circling back to the same one repeatedly, that is a red flag that there may be a problem. Having a candidate request you go into further detail regarding an answer you provided is fine if it remains in the framework of the original question, but having to do it repeatedly, or having to circle back to the same answer later, means they are not listening or comprehending. It is important that you listen to their requests, determine if it is an expansion on your answer or if it is the same one you already provided, and look for signs of comprehension. If you notice a tendency to circle back, that is a red flag, and it’s rational to decide that this individual may not fully understand the role they have applied for, so you can reasonably eliminate them from the hiring process. -- Alexandre Bocquet, Founder and CEO, Betterly
Attempting to Extract Trade Secrets
It’s important to make sure that any candidate you’re considering is not actively trying to solicit trade secrets or other confidential information from your team. If you suspect a candidate for attempting this kind of behavior, it’s best to eliminate them from the search and move on. -- Leo Vaisburg, Managing Partner, Amazon Suspension Lawyer
Style My Soul Explores…
“What are your favorite nutritious snacks that working professionals can prepare within fifteen minutes?”
Working professionals often have little time to craft nutritious meals and snacks throughout their busy day. An uncommon — yet balanced and healthy — snack they can create in fifteen minutes or fewer is a chia seed pudding bowl. This involves combining chia seeds with non-dairy milk, such as almond or coconut, along with fresh fruit and nuts of your choice. Chia seeds provide an array of essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other compounds that are beneficial for optimal health. The sweetness from the fruits paired with the crunchiness from the nuts makes for an enjoyable fortified snack that can easily be made when short on time crunches! -- Michael Alexis, CEO, swag.org
Chickpea and Couscous Salad
This uncommon dish is a simple, healthy, and vegetarian-friendly meal that doesn’t take long to make. Chickpeas are full of fiber and protein, which provide energy throughout the day, while couscous provides carbohydrates for sustained energy levels. The addition of fresh vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and onions adds both nutritional value and extra flavor to this savory dish. Preparation time comes to around 10–15 minutes, depending on how much you would like to chop the veggies. It’s always a great idea to make a large batch near the start of the week so you can eat it multiple times during your workdays!
-- Tasia Duske, CEO, Museum Hack
When I’m in a rush, cutting up a range of vegetables, lightly frying them in olive oil in a wok, and splashing over some soy sauce is a tasty, filling, and nutritious meal that I can make in under fifteen minutes. To note, it takes me even less time to eat it; it’s so delicious!
-- Joe Flanagan, Founder, 90s Fashion World
Ranch-style eggs, frequently known by their Spanish translation (huevos rancheros) appear to be a time-consuming breakfast, but they’re surprisingly quick and easy to make. Lay down some tortillas on a pan and add canned black beans and shredded cheese. You can cook the eggs any way you like. I prefer a sunny-side-up egg, but scrambled eggs and over-medium or fried eggs are fine, too. Heat the tortillas and black beans and cheese while you cook the eggs and once the tortillas are done, lay the egg on top. You can add a second layer of cheese on top if you’d like, along with chives or any other topping you want. You can even add a dash of salsa. You’re likely to have enough for leftovers, so be sure to refrigerate them and have them ready to put in the microwave the next time you need a quick breakfast. -- Brittany Dolin, Co-Founder, Pocketbook Agency
For professionals who have only a few minutes to cook dinner before getting back to work, steak fajitas are one of the easiest and most flavorful. Many professionals want a meal that is low in carbs and high in protein, but unfortunately, many pre-packaged dinners also contain the unhealthy qualities that often come with processed foods. Steak fajitas only require the prep time of chopping up a few vegetables, such as onions and peppers and slicing a small steak. Then, throw it all in a pan with a little olive oil and seasoning to taste, and in about 7 to 10 minutes of cooking time, you have a healthy meal. If you are looking for a flavorful meal that also registers high on the health scale, then steak fajitas are hard to beat. -- Cody Candee, CEO, Bounce
Avocado Toast With Whole-Grain Bread
Go to a bakery or your local grocery store and find some whole-grain bread. Then go to the farmer’s market (or simply move to the produce aisle of your neighborhood grocery store) and find some ripe, delicious avocados. Mash the avocados into a guacamole-style blend, coat it with some lemon juice, and store it in your refrigerator. Every morning, toast some bread and spread that avocado on your toast. Add a little sea salt and a slice of tomato — and if possible, a fried egg. It’s a quick, easy, and healthy breakfast, one that you can whip up in a matter of minutes. -- Rachel Blank, Founder and CEO, Allara
This grain is high in fiber, protein, and vitamins and is easy to prepare. All it requires is a few minutes of simmering on the stove. To make it more exciting and flavorful, top it with fruits like banana slices, blueberries, or strawberries; nut butter; cinnamon; and a touch of honey for sweetness. This combination provides long-lasting energy to help manage the day ahead!
-- Carly Hill, Operations Manager, VirtualHolidayParty.com
Breakfast Egg “Muffins”
It’s called a muffin, but it really isn’t — not in the traditional sense. There’s hardly any sugar content in this type of muffin. It’s a breakfast consisting of eggs, spinach, bacon (or sausage), and cheese. Whisk those ingredients together and pour the mix into some muffin tins. You can bake them for 15 minutes and they’re ready to eat (but give them a few minutes to cool off). You can put the remaining muffins in an airtight container and store them in the fridge, and you will have a pre-made breakfast to last for days. All you would need to do is zap them in the microwave. It’s a hot, delicious, healthy, and protein-packed meal — the perfect kind of meal to kick off your day. -- Sean Doherty, GM, Box Genie
A non-perishable food that is rich in protein, fiber, and several vitamins and minerals is roasted chickpeas. These have 5 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein in 1/2 cup (125 grams). Because they contain most of the essential amino acids, their protein is said to be of greater quality than that of other legumes. Eating legumes with high-quality protein might enhance feelings of fullness and may help with weight loss, according to research. Drain and pat dry a can of chickpeas before roasting them. They should be tossed with olive oil, sea salt, and other seasonings of your choosing before being baked for 40 minutes at 350°F (180°C) on a prepared baking sheet. -- Brian Clark, Founder, United Medical Education
Mediterranean Cod With Roasted Tomatoes
For a good nutritious meal on the go, I love to make Mediterranean Cod and roasted tomatoes. I typically keep frozen fish on hand and pull it out in the morning to thaw. Then, when I am ready to cook, I combine oregano, thyme, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper. I sprinkle this on both sides of the cod before placing it on one side of a non-stick pan and adding chopped tomatoes and garlic. After, I cover it with the remaining mixture of spices and olive oil on the other side of the pan. Within about 10 minutes of baking at 450 degrees, I have a plate of tasty food ready to eat. -- Andrew Adamo, VP, Bullion Shark
An uncommon example is curried red lentil soup; this high-protein soup takes only fifteen minutes to make with canned lentils, vegetable stock, curry powder, and other spices, garlic, onion, and tomatoes. The prep time is minimal, as it just involves chopping the ingredients before putting them all together in a pot to simmer. This bowl of soup packs a punch of nutrients while appealing to the palate at the same time — an ideal snack or meal for busy working days!
-- Grace He, People and Culture Director, teambuilding.com
Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
Anyone can easily prepare a peanut butter and banana sandwich within 15 minutes. Toast two slices of whole-wheat bread, spread peanut butter on one piece, and slice bananas on the other. Put the two slices together to make a sandwich. This filling snack provides protein and healthy fats from the peanut butter, and fiber and vitamins from the bananas.
-- Matthew Appleton, E-commerce Manager, Appleton Sweets
Grilled Cheese Sandwich With Avocado and Tomato
Toast two slices of whole-wheat bread and spread mashed avocado on one slice and top with cheese and sliced tomatoes. Put the two slices together and grill in a pan until the cheese is melted, and the bread is toasted. This sandwich provides fiber and healthy fats from the avocado and fiber, vitamins, and minerals from the tomatoes.
-- Alice Hall, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Rowen Homes
Turkey Spinach Wrap
For individuals who don’t have a lot of time but are looking for a quick, nutritious meal, a turkey spinach wrap is a great option. Purchase good smoked turkey from a deli, along with spinach wraps, and your favorite veggies. Personally, I prefer romaine lettuce, spinach, bell peppers, and tomatoes with a bit of light mayonnaise or Sriracha sauce. In just a few minutes, you can create a healthy and filling meal. -- Mary Kay Bitton, Head of Product Innovation, FLO Vitamins
Overnight oats are an easy and fast snack to prepare and then keep on hand for grabbing and going. They stay good for a while and take almost no time to make. I typically create mason jars with 1 part oats, 1 part milk, and 1/4 part chia seeds. Then, for sweetness, I add some honey, jam, fruit, or Greek yogurt topped with a high-protein granola. -- Taylor Ava Smith, Athlete, Taylor Ava Smith