6 Pitfalls to Avoid in Your First Year of Homeownership

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/20/16 11:32 AM

Topics: Home Ownership

As a first-time homebuyer, you have a lot on your plate. From saving for a down payment and closing costs to keeping your credit score mortgage-ready and finding a home that suits your needs, you’ve accomplished a lot even before purchasing your first home.

Now that you’ve closed on your home, there are still some mistakes you should avoid to keep your first year of homeownership a positive experience.

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Not Planning for the Other Immediate Costs of Buying

You’ve made your down payment and paid the closing costs, so you’re done writing checks for a while, right? Well, it depends. Even if your new home is move-in ready, you’ll still have to consider various other costs for making your new home your own, including but not limited to:

  • A moving company (or moving truck, at the very least)
  • Exterminator, which is suggested if the house has sat vacant for even a period of time
  • A starter tool kit
  • Cleaning supplies and lightbulbs
  • Service bills to set up cable, internet, etc.
  • Paint and painting supplies

Making Large Purchases on Credit Post-Closing

Your mortgage banker likely told you to avoid making large purchases on credit or opening up new lines of credit prior to closing, but first-time homebuyers should also be careful with taking on additional debt after closing.

It’s suggested to wait on making any large purchase on credit until acclimate to the monthly costs of your mortgage, utilities and home maintenance projects.

Not Expecting the Unexpected

Speaking of home maintenance projects, no one plans for their A/C to give out or a major appliance to break. Even if you invested in a home warranty or your home inspection came back with no apparent issues, it’s important to budget for things that could happen down the road.

Many experts suggest budgeting at least 1% of your home’s purchase price per year to spend on home maintenance costs. So if your home purchase was $150,000, expect to spend somewhere in the ballpark of $1,500 per year keeping your home and its major systems running efficiently.

Turning DIY Projects into What-Did-I-Do Projects

You’re empowered and inspired; you just bought a home, you can do anything! While even long-time homeowners have encompassed the do-it-yourself agenda to save time and money on home improvement projects, there are some repairs, ugrades and renovations that should be left to the pros.

This includes roofing, tree removal, making structural changes to your home, electrical work and plumbing repair. Know your limits and expertise. Ask family members or neighbors for referrals to area professionals who can help you complete these tasks correctly.

Ignoring “Small” Problems

Maybe your toilet seems to constantly run or your dryer feels hot to the touch during a cycle. Homeownership comes with major responsibility, meaning you need to take care of even the simplest of issues as soon as they arise. A constantly running toilet could mean you’re wasting hundreds of gallons of water every month and an overheating dryer could mean your vent hose is clogged with lint and could be a major fire hazard.

Addressing issues upfront will help keep your maintenance costs down and will keep your home running efficiently and safely.

Starting Remodeling Projects Right Off the Bat

Unless you purposely bought a fixer-upper, it’s often suggested to wait at least a year before taking on any major remodeling or renovation projects. While cost is a major factor in inserting a waiting period, it’s also important to fully grasp the function and flow of your home.

What bothers you the most about your home’s layout or design? You may move in thinking your outdated bathroom is where you’d like to budget your home improvement dollars but later realize that money would have been better spent on flooring. Give yourself time to settle in!

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