One year ago I bought my house with my husband, along the way I documented all that I had learned. We started off asking tons of questions! Asking ourselves we were ready to buy or continue to rent? We then found our realtor and then asked were asked lots and lots of questions about our credit! Once we were pre-approved, we went house hunting. (My favorite part!) We found our awesome house, and had a home inspector visit. We had lots of discussion about "the players" involved like our mortgage lender, attorney and insurance agent. Then came the closing and moving in! Woo, quite a lot of learning happened. As I reflect back on the last year, here are some tips and things I've learned the hard way.
- 1. Plan for 10-15 percent of your budget to be expenses on your house (over your mortgage)
As a renter, there were things I didn't realize that as a homeowner we needed to do. My best example is buying solar salt. Our home inspector gave us great advice, and made us fully aware if we didn't put in solar salt – bad things would happen! Other things that we hadn't considered but knew we needed to do were things like cleaning the chimney, mowing and fertilizing the grass, and winterizing our home for the winter. Doing these things all cost money. Some months were more than others, but keeping that 10 – 15 percent of our budget for home expenses has helped!
- No Home is Perfect
One good reminder for all new homeowners is that no home is perfect. There will be things about your new house that will annoy you or make you scratch your head and say "what were the previous homeowners thinking when they did XYZ?" I had to come to this realization early on, overall our house is wonderful but there are little things that bug me. If you really want to change them it's going to cost you, so decide what needs to be done ASAP and what can wait.
For the bigger purchases (like for us we'd like to switch out some carpet for hard wood) planning for those expenses is one way to get them done. Decide what you want to have done, do some research on costs for purchasing and labor, and then save up for it. If you can do it yourself, then go for it! Little changes can add value to your home, so decide what is worth it and what isn't!
- Keep that emergency fund funded
In life, we never know what can happen. A tree could fall on our house or our air conditioning unit could go out. Just remember to keep that emergency fund funded. Some educators suggest only $1,000 (or enough to meet your insurance deductible) others recommend three to six months worth of your expenses. Only you know what is right for you and your family. Whatever you decide, keep that money separate and make sure you only use it in the event of an emergency.
Your first house may not be your forever house, but remember that it may not be completely perfect, but it's perfect for now. Make sure you have some money for expenses for household necessities, and keep your emergency fund funded! We can get caught up "Keeping up with the Joneses" but at the end of the day you've accomplished something great! You're a homeowner and it's something to be proud of! I hope you enjoyed my Sasha Learns: How to Buy a House series and it's helped you along the way with your own home buying!