With affordable home prices and low interest rates, buying a home is an appealing option to many, especially renters tired of spending their hard-earned money on rent and having nothing to show for it. However, homeownership also comes with many unexpected costs and concerns. These are the top things first-time homeowners need to keep in mind:
Every time you make a repair or improvement to your home, it adds value to it. If you save your receipts for any improvements you make to your house while you’re living there, you can use them to maximize any tax-free earnings you make when you sell your house. If you live in your house for at least two of the five years before selling it and it was your primary residence, you could earn up to $250,000, tax-free, from your sale.
When you own your home, you have to pay property taxes, and your mortgage lender usually requires you to have homeowner’s insurance. Even if you’ve paid renter’s insurance, you’ll find that homeowner’s insurance is generally more expensive, because you’re paying to rebuild your home and replace your possessions if something were to happen to them. You also might need to carry supplemental insurance, such as earthquake, hurricane, or flood insurance, depending on where you live.
While a home without a bathtub may be fine if you don’t have any children now, that bathroom can become nearly useless when children enter the picture. Additionally, consider the size of the bedrooms. A small bedroom that’s the perfect size for an infant will be too small by the time the child is in school and needs a bed, desk, and more. When you’re looking at new homes, don’t just consider what works for you now — keep in mind what you might need in the future.
If you had any green space at your rental, chances are you didn’t have to take care of it. However, when you own your home, you’re responsible for mowing the grass and trimming the trees. You can pay someone to take care of it, or you can do it yourself. However, it’s not just landscaping you need to worry about. You also have to take care of the roof, clean the gutters, and deal with the exterior of your house.
Unfortunately, things have a way of breaking down in a house, typically at the worst possible times — your refrigerator quits working right before company comes over, for example, or the air conditioning breaks down on the hottest day of summer or your dryer stops running in the middle of laundry day. While it’s good to keep some money saved for these issues, you can also have some peace of mind with a home warranty. Home warranties cover appliances, plumbing, electrical, and more and can help you cover the expenses of repairing or replacing these items.
While owning your home is a major responsibility, with the right planning and knowledge, you can also be part of this American dream.
Sources:1: David Watson Architects. 2: Asher Associates Architects. 3: Patrick Ahearn Architect. 4 &5: Logan’s Hammer Building & Renovation. 6: Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc. (Photographer: Anice Hoachlander from Hoachlander Davis Photography, LLC Project Architect: Melanie Basini-Giordano, AIA).
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