You just went from being a first time home buyer to a new homeowner. Congrats! You got the house! Now what!?
Picture this: you’re a first time home buyer. You’ve successfully navigated this wild and crazy market and finally got under contract on a beautiful new home. The closing goes smoothly, and you’re handed the keys to your new digs. You’re officially a new homeowner…but now what!? As a homeowner myself, and a real estate agent specializing in buyers, I’d like to share 5 tips for new homeowners. We’ll cover important topics that people often don’t think about.
Tip #1: Start a home binder.
Whether it’s online or in print, begin to compile any and all documents related to the purchase of your home into one file. You may need to reference your financing documents or the closing statement at a later date, and in the shuffle of moving, you don’t want to misplace these papers!
Tip #2: Create a separate binder for all things “home upgrades.”
Planning to paint before you move in? Write down the brand and color for every room you paint and label which room it went in. Keep your receipts!
Additionally, if you hired a contractor for a project, write down the total cost of supplies and labor.
Why take the time to do this?
Eventually, when you go to sell your house, any upgrade you made can be used as a selling point to list at a higher price point! Any painting work you did, trim work, floors, carpets, etc. If you upgraded the look of your home in any way, write it down along with the pricing and keep it in one place.
The same goes for any new appliances or finishings. Keep a record of anything you purchase to improve the function and look of your home. Save it all in one place for safe keeping (including the manuals and warranty documents!). For each purchase, also note the brand name, store name, model number, color, warranty information, purchase date, and price.
For example, did you install a new HVAC system? Perhaps you switched out the old water heater for a tankless one? All of this should be filed together and kept in one place.
Trust me, this information will come in handy down the road. Not to mention, think about how happy you’ll make the next homeowner when you hand them an envelope with all of the manuals and warranty books for the home!
Tip #3: Locate your water shut off & water main.
Make sure your home inspector pointed this out on your home inspection report. If your water shut off is in a crawlspace, consider hiring a plumber to move it up to the main level and/or purchase a curb key to the curb water main. In the event of a water emergency, you don’t want to crawl under your house to stop a flood damaging your home upstairs.
Even if it’s not an emergency, if you want to switch out some faucets or replace your garbage disposal, you’ll still want to turn off the water completely for safety. And that’s where easy access to the water comes in handy.
A curb key is used to shut off the water at the curb. You can find it at any local hardware store. Ps. you’ll also want to know where your water main is located in your front yard.
Tip #4: Buy and install spigot covers for the winter.
You can find spigot covers at your local hardware store, and they typically cost less than $5 per cover. When winter rolls around & the weather channel predicts the first freeze, these will come in handy. To help winterize your new home, unscrew all of the outdoor hoses from their spigots, make sure knobs are turned off tightly, and protect your spigots with these covers.
When temperatures dip below freezing, spigots are susceptible to freezing and bursting, just like your inside pipes. Installing a spigot cover can save you hundreds of dollars in a frozen plumbing emergency. Spigot covers are also reusable, so you can store them over spring and summer and reinstall them next winter!
Tip #5: Make a plan for roof and gutter maintenance!
Your roof and gutters protect your home from wind, water, and pests. Don’t let lazy roof maintenance create problems for you down the line.
If you’re not comfortable going up on a ladder, hire a trusted professional to clear your roof and gutters every 4-6 months. If your new home has heavy tree overhang, consider cleaning them more frequently.
During the cleaning, have the contractor clean off leaves, branches, and pine needles from your roof and gutters. In addition, have your landscaper trim back tree branches hanging over your roof and gutters.
Why all this maintenance?
If left unchecked, leaves and pine needles will pile up on your roof and gutters, hold water, and cause significant damage. Not only that, clogged gutters create an overflow of water when it rains. The water overflows right down into the area surrounding your foundation. This can be very bad and cause foundation issues or basement flooding. To top it off, overhanging tree branches can break off and damage your home in strong storms.
Your roof and gutters are an investment in your overall home property, so you want to maintain them well, just like your home interior!
Again, congratulations on your home purchase! Being a new homeowner comes with many responsibilities but also so many rewards. By caring for your home and focusing on preventative maintenance, your time as a homeowner can be a great one with fewer bumps and unforeseen expenses.
If you’re in the market for a home or have a home to sell, our team at Shenandoah Realty would love to talk to you about how to get the most house for your money or the most return on investment for your home sale. Just let us know how we can help!
About the guest author:
Stephanie Ross is a Buyer’s Agent for Shenandoah Realty at eXp. Stephanie has proudly called herself a Durham-ite for over a decade and knows the Triangle and its neighborhoods well. She is an acting Secretary of the Durham Women’s Club and an active member in the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties. In her free time, Stephanie can be found on the tennis courts participating in league play through the Eno Community Tennis Association and the UTSA.