Your First Home: Essential Tips for New Homeowners

After months of house hunting, dealing with legalities, and filling out reams of paperwork, you’re finally ready to realize your dream and move into your very own home. This is one of the largest financial investments you’ll ever make, so it’s important to start off on the right footing.

Buying a home is a smart investment with many benefits for you and your family, however, owning a home also comes with many new responsibilities. You now have additional monthly expenses like building insurance and municipal rates and, unfortunately, you can no longer just pick up the phone to call the landlord when something goes wrong – you ARE the landlord. It can easily become overwhelming, not to mention costly, especially if you’ve bought an older home that requires updating. But if you are prepared from the get-go, you will experience all of the joy with few of the potential headaches.

Here are our top tips for new homeowners to ensure a smooth transition to property ownership:

Create a Homeowner’s File

Before moving into your new home, create a binder or allocate a drawer in your filing cabinet for important documents relating to your home, including your mortgage and home insurance paperwork. Once you’ve moved in, add all your appliance user manuals and warranties. Keep all receipts relating to home improvements, as you will need these for tax purposes when you decide to sell.

After your move-in, use the same binder to store all of the guides and warranties for your new appliances. Store receipts for any home improvement and moving expenses here as well. You’ll want to hang on to these for your taxes. You can also start collecting contact information for reliable contractors in this binder.

More here on your legacy file

Start an Emergency House Fund

You never know when something is going to go wrong or how much it will cost, and as repairs are now your responsibility, this can put a strain on your finances if you aren’t prepared. The longer you live in your home, the more likely you are to experience surprise issues like plumbing faults and electrical failures, or even big-ticket repairs like new roofing, plumbing, heating, or roofing issues. Start an emergency savings account as soon as possible and try to contribute to it religiously.

Make Friends with Your Neighbours

Building a relationship with your neighbours has several benefits. It helps resolve disputes more easily if they arise, enables you to get good recommendations for any services you may need, and enhances security, as neighbours who know each other look out for each other.

Put Together a Basic Toolbox

The last thing you want is to become the new neighbour who’s always borrowing something, and you don’t want to have to call out a contractor every time something small goes wrong. Purchasing your first home likely left you stretched thin money-wise, so you don’t need to go overboard. However, it’s a good idea to buy essential tools you're most likely to need. These include a hammer, flat-head screwdrivers, Phillips-head screwdrivers, a wrench, a torch, and a power drill.

Complete Small Projects Before You Move In

It’s a good idea to complete certain small projects such as painting rooms or removing old wall-to-wall carpeting before moving into your new home. This ensures your home is liveable and gives you time to plan bigger projects properly.

Wait to Start Large Projects

Home improvement projects are expensive, and to avoid unnecessary expenses, it’s best to live in your new home for several months before making any final decisions. This allows you to get a feel for your home, understand how the existing layout works, and determine what really needs to be changed. It also gives you time to save for upcoming projects.

Focus on Upgrades That Offer the Best Return on Investment

Unless you have a generous budget, it’s best to focus on improvements that offer the most return on your investment. Take the time to research the most popular features in your area and the cost of the work. Generally, projects that yield a good return include kitchen and bathroom upgrades, repainting in neutral tones, and creating an attractive outdoor living area or deck.

Complete One Project at a Time

It may be tempting to finish all your improvements as soon as possible, but don’t work on multiple home projects at once. This can exhaust your finances, make your new home unliveable, and add unnecessary stress to your everyday life.

Pay Attention to Your Energy Usage

This is especially important if you’ve bought a bigger home than you lived in before. Pay attention to how your home uses energy and learn how to reduce your carbon footprint and save money. Small changes can significantly impact your electric bill and ease your monthly expenses. Some tips include lowering your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees, switching out lightbulbs for energy-efficient LED lightbulbs, and moving your refrigerator away from your oven.

By following these tips, you can ensure a smoother transition into homeownership and enjoy all the benefits that come with it.

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