Things to Know Before Owning a Home

Homeownership is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your lifetime. It’s not just a lifestyle choice; it’s an investment. And like any investment, there are obligations and responsibilities to understand before you sign on the dotted line.

Before Buying a Home

While buying a home might seem like an easy thing, the fact of the matter is that there is quite a bit that goes into the process. First and foremost, it is important to find a home in a city, county, and/or state that offers an affordable cost of living. A cost of living calculator makes it easy to determine if a specific location boasts favorable rates as far as living expenses go. Beyond that, you will also need to ensure that the home you’re looking at is a fiscally-responsible purchase. There are plenty of tools available online that can determine what you can afford based upon your annual income, as well as the amount you put down as a down-payment.

It’s important to know how many people will be living in the property and ensure that the floor plan is suited for their lifestyle. For example, if you have three young children under the age of five, look for homes with at least two bedrooms on the main floor so they won’t have to climb stairs or share a bedroom.

A formal dining room may not be necessary unless hosting family celebrations or large dinner parties are part of your lifestyle. If entertaining more casually, then an eat-in kitchen might suffice. And don’t forget about lifestyle amenities like having space for bikes and other outdoor equipment

Here are 10 things new homeowners should know:

1. You’re responsible for the upkeep of your home

Maintaining your home is your responsibility as a homeowner. This includes everything from repairing damage to mowing the lawn. You can either do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you, but it’s up to you to make sure it gets done.

2. You’re responsible for the mortgage, even if you don’t live in the home

Even if you’re not living in the home, you’re still responsible for making your mortgage payments. If you stop making payments, you could lose your home and damage your credit rating.

3. You’re responsible for property taxes

Just like you’re responsible for property taxes on your home, you’re also responsible for property taxes on any rental properties you own. This can add up, so be sure to budget for it.

4. You’re responsible for your home’s insurance

Your mortgage lender will require you to have homeowners insurance, but it’s ultimately your responsibility to make sure the policy is in place and up-to-date. If something happens to your home, you need to be prepared to rebuild or repair it.

5. You’re responsible for the safety of your home

As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your home is safe for you and your family. This includes making sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and that there are no obvious safety hazards, such as a rotting deck or faulty wiring.

6. You’re responsible for making sure your home is livable

Your mortgage lender will have a list of items that you need to look at before closing on the house. These include checking all of the systems in the home, including appliances and heating or cooling units, to make sure they are working properly. Be sure to check these items so you can get any repairs made before moving in.

7. Your lifestyle may change once you buy a home, but it doesn’t mean you should stick with what worked in your rental apartment

You’ll have more control over your lifestyle once you own a home, but this also means that lifestyle changes may be more costly. For example, you can probably paint your rental walls pretty easily, but if you want to change the color of your living room’s wall in your new home, it’ll likely cost more because it will involve repainting an entire room instead of just a single wall.

8. You may need to upgrade some items you wanted for your lifestyle or budget

Buying a home is different from renting a place to live mainly because there are typically initial costs associated with purchasing that aren’t always present when you rent. For example, when you buy a home, you’re going to need furniture and household appliances such as washers and dryers. You might also have higher utility bills since heating and cooling a home uses more energy than an apartment.

9. You’re responsible for the security of your home

Just as you’re responsible for the safety of your home, you’re also responsible for its security. This includes installing and keeping up with security features like locks, alarms, and cameras.

10. You may need to get a mortgage to buy a home

Mortgages are typically required to buy a home, so be prepared to take on that debt if you want to become a homeowner. There are many types of mortgages available, so be sure to do your research and find one that best suits your needs.

Becoming a homeowner is a big step, but it’s one that comes with many responsibilities, especially if it’s your first time experiencing this. By knowing what to expect and being prepared for them, you can make the process much smoother.