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  • Writer's pictureCathy Hertler

Top 6 Dos and Don’ts of New Homeownership

Congratulations! You just joined the group of people known as homeowners. As you’ve probably heard, owning a home is the American Dream, and one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

But as a new homeowner, there’s probably a lot you don’t know. If you’re going from renting to owning, we’ve got some news for you—all those things your landlord used to take care of are your problem now. It’s also important to keep in mind that you’re likely to live in your new home longer than you would in an apartment, so the habits you establish now could stay with you for a long time.

With this in mind, here are the 6 things you should know as a new homeowner. This list could be much longer, but we’re going to limit it to the top 6:

1. Get to know your neighbors The best thing you can do for both the short- and long-term is get to know your new neighbors. They will become priceless sources of local information, helping you find the necessary services and products in your new neighborhood. They may even know things about your home from the previous owner that could save you time and headaches. If you’re lucky, your neighbors will also become lifelong friends that will turn your new neighborhood into someplace special.

2. Don’t spend too much to make it your own It’s incredibly tempting when you buy a new home to invest in improvements right away and really make the home your own. Resist this temptation. You’ve just spent a large portion of your life savings to buy the home and move in, so money is probably pretty tight right now. On top of that, you’re still getting used to all the monthly expenses that come from owning a home. Give yourself some time to adjust to the monthly expenses of being a homeowner before you pay someone to start swinging that hammer.

3. Get all the necessary insurance Your lender requires you to get homeowner’s insurance in order to finance the loan with you, but that’s not the only type of insurance you should get. If you’re sharing the home with someone who depends on your income to pay for the mortgage, like a spouse or family members, you should get life-insurance with that person as your beneficiary. That way the mortgage will be covered should something happen to you. For the same reason, disability-income insurance is a smart investment should something happen to your ability to earn an income. 4. Learn about important maintenance We’ve already said it a couple of times, but you’re in charge of taking care of your property now, not your landlord. And while we’ve already warned you about spending too much to improve your home, there’s one area that you should never skimp on—maintenance. Get to know your appliances and mechanicals, especially your heating system and hot water heater. If any of them require some work or to be replaced, take care of it right away. These aren’t the most exciting things to be spending money on in your home, but you do not want anything to go wrong with them. Then you’ll be looking at more money to replace them, and perhaps even the cost to clean up the mess that not fixing them in the first place made.

5. Organize all your warranties and manuals You likely received a file folder of manuals and important documents about all of your appliances from the previous owner. And you likely also put that folder away somewhere and forgot about it. Well, go find that folder and go through it. It will have information about troubleshooting and repairs for your appliances, as well as warranty information. If something is to go wrong in these big ticket items, you’ll know the first place to look. It’s also a great idea to scan digital versions of these documents, so you’ve got a digital backup. 6. Change the locks You don’t know who has a copy of your home’s keys when you first move in, and you don’t want to find out the hard way. Call a locksmith and have them change the locks and you’ll sleep easier every night you spend in your new home.

Owning a home is a greater responsibility than renting, but most people agree there’s also a greater reward from homeownership. It may take you a little while to get used to all of your new duties, but once you do, you’ll take great pride in making your new house feel like a home.

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