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
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