Homeownership is a dream come true for many people, but the process can be filled with a roller-coaster of emotions, starting with searching for a property, seeking financing, to finally signing those papers and moving into the house.
Unfortunately, all this excitement can quickly sour soon after moving in, if you are inadequately prepared to manage and maintain your home.
To learn how to manage your new home effectively, follow these tips from professional property managers, whether you are a first-time or veteran homeowner.
5 Tips for Homeowners from Expert Property Managers
- Establish a Budget and Stick to It
- Get to Know Your Neighbors
- Expect Contractors to Disappoint You
- Learn How to Maintain & Repair Your Property
- Take Home Inspections Seriously
1. Establish a Budget and Stick to It
The entire process of buying a home is costly in terms of money and time. You need to save money for the down payment, seek financing, and most importantly, spend sufficient time hunting for the ideal home for your budget and needs.
One of the biggest homebuying mistakes you can make is to be handicapped financially in the middle of closing on a property. Sooner than later, unexpected maintenance or repair costs will creep up, which can be a recipe for disaster.
It’s also important to stress that making a budget is one thing while sticking to it is another discipline altogether. It’s critical to stick to your budget and avoid being emotionally carried away when making a purchase. You need to take the approach of “owning a house” and NOT “the house owning you”!
Expenses to budget from the on start include: the down-payment; utility bills; closing costs; moving costs; homeowners insurance; HOA fees; property taxes; maintenance slush fund; and miscellaneous expenses. Identifying realistic recurring expenses upfront will help you buy a home within your budget, without exhausting your finances or savings.
2. Get to Know Your Neighbors
Moving into a new neighborhood can be intimidating to some people especially for introverts and people who cherish their privacy. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for many homeowners to brush off the idea of getting to know their new neighbors before and after they have moved into their new home.
However, being friendly with nearby neighbors can be especially beneficial to a new homeowner and is one of the best pieces of advice offered by seasoned property managers. Making a concerted effort to establish connections with neighbors will not only get you integrated into the community, but these contacts can also help you solve a number of future problems.
Your neighbors can be an invaluable source of knowledge about and resources for your new home, especially if they have been in the area for many years. A single conversation with a neighbor can solve problems that could take many months, or even years, to figure out on your own.
Neighbors may likely tell you what your homeseller will never disclose. They can provide context on renovations that happened before and why, explain if the area is prone to flooding or not, give numbers to call in case of emergencies or when you require fixes, and so many other issues.
You can potentially get the kind of information the seller may withhold by interacting with your neighbors. Remember to exchange contacts with your neighbor to make it easy to reach out in case you require help or information.
3. Expect Contractors to Disappoint You
The experience of homeownership will undoubtedly come with disappointment, especially involving contractors. If this is your first house, then prepare yourself that, sooner or later, one of your contractors will disappoint you. Do not be surprised, for example, if ghosted by numerous contractors for a project you have been anxiously trying to commence.
Contractors like electricians, masons, and plumbers are often overwhelmed by work given the huge demand for their services, attributable to the homebuying boom over recent years, and the large number of older properties throughout the country. It is this labor shortage that has made it a common experience to be disappointed by contractors. Many contractors have been guilty of accepting more work than they can handle.
As a homeowner, you should be prepared for contractors failing to send quotes as agreed, never returning calls, or simply failing to show up on agreed dates. This does not mean that a reputable property management company or contractor cannot be found, but that it will take time, patience and persistence to find a reliable one.
You can find out from neighbors if they know any reliable contractors. Additionally, have a line-up of at least 3 or more contractors and request quotes for work. You should also test their responsiveness with follow-ups.
Additionally, you can get the list of previous contractors from the prior homeowner. Most sellers will willingly share some of the contacts they used in the past. Nonetheless, buyers are not obliged to stick to these contractors, but a call for an initial check can be helpful.
Previous contractors may have invaluable insights into how past problems were resolved. They may even have diagrams, or photos of wiring, plumbing and other “behind the wall” information that will prove valuable for current decisions and future renovation plans.
Remember to ask a lot of questions when a contractor is resolving an issue in your home. Simple questions on fixes in areas, such as piping, wiring, and drainage can help you DIY some future fixes.
4. Learn How to Maintain & Repair Your Property
One of the biggest challenges you will face as a homeowner is basic home repair and maintenance. When renting, this responsibility rests primarily with the property maintenance manager or property owner. All simple fixes are handled on your behalf when renting but not with homeownership. It will now be your time to step up and figure out how things work and how to repair or maintain them. If not, you most assuredly will need to establish and maintain a sizeable maintenance and repair budget to cover the costs of future professional services.
To keep your appliances running smoothly, you can learn industry tips from professional property managers, especially basic repairs and common maintenance tasks. You need to be well-acquainted with basic maintenance and repairs such as how to change various air, water and gas filters, wintering outdoor faucets, cleaning the oven, greasing movable parts in household machinery, replacing faulty lighting, changing a door, hanging a picture, building a shelf, and the list goes on. You can also incorporate physical labor tasks, such as yard maintenance, as part of an on-going fitness program.
Many basic maintenance tasks of household appliances are easy, with many and most of the problems can be fixed with a quick search on your browser. It is also important to understand how frequently maintenance tasks should be conducted, with reminders embedded in your home calendar.
You can save a lot of money by simply taking over the task of appliance maintenance in your home. Replacement costs tend to be high and hence the need to DIY as many home maintenance tasks as possible.
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5. Take Home Inspections Seriously
One of the best home maintenance tips from property professionals is to take home inspections seriously before making a purchase. You have perhaps come across houses that have been listed “as is” as part of the proposition. These two words are perilous as they can end up costing you more than you can afford.
The term “as is” is included in certain properties for sale with the main reason being that the seller has not provided a warranty for defects in the property. This simply means the buyer will take over the house with all its problems.
It is thus important to carry out a property inspection with the help of a licensed professional. This might cost anywhere from $200 to $500 depending on the size of the home, but with a reputable inspector this is always a good investment. The professional can also identify hard-to-see defects that can help prevent future, more costly repairs.
The certified inspector will check and confirm the home’s condition. Some of the areas inspected will include the exterior, overall structure, plumbing, and electrical connections and condition. The inspector will then give a detailed report regarding all these areas and highlight a prioritized list of any issues they have identified.
Bonus Tips from Professional Property Managers
It’s important to conduct a personal tour before performing a home inspection. Video tours might give a glimpse of a house but will not cover all the important details that can affect your decision. Visit the house to get an intuitive feel for it and its neighborhood. Viewing a potential home before deciding to commit can save you time and money.
You should avoid rushing to make an offer after you have completed a house tour and inspection. Take your time before making such a decision. You will also find it helpful to check out other houses to expand your range of options. Once an offer is made it only means you have committed to pay for the house for a specified amount. Therefore, make an offer only when you are 100% certain the house meets your needs and requirements and is truly what you want.
One of the mistakes you can make while buying a home is to make an offer and later have a change of heart. You will be refunded if you make the offer and put in a down payment only to fail to close the deal due to a failure to secure the financing. Unfortunately, you are bound to lose your earnest money deposit if you made an offer, put a down payment, and then later found a better house.
About the author
Liran Koren is a real estate pro and co-founder of Luxury Property Care. Liran believes that through aligned goals we can create a healthy ecosystem that serves investors, landlords and tenants equally well.
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