Going from renting to owning a home for the first time is exciting, to say the least. While renting offers many advantages, the ability to build equity in a property, make a variety changes to it without approval from a landlord and the simple sense of ownership are all especially attractive.
If you're moving from a rental property to one you own for the first time, you can use this advice to adjust to the title of homeowner and make sure you keep your house, condo or other living space as safe and enjoyable as possible.
Maintaining your property
One major responsibility you have to take on as a homeowner is keeping your home and the land around it clean, attractive and in good working order. This is a major shift for some renters, who haven't had to worry about the financial impact of a broken major appliance or the need to fix or replace a roof or siding in the past. Simply calling a landlord to fix or replace something, even at a major cost, is one of the advantages of renting. Homeowners need to take a different perspective.
If you had a home inspection before moving in, you can use that to help identify and address potential problems that could arise in the future. It's generally cheaper to fix something before it breaks, so keep that in mind if you're torn on the cost/benefit analysis of fixing a weak spot in the roof now versus when it starts to actively leak, for example.
With appliances and home systems, you should consider a service check to assess their condition and start planning regular maintenance and, if necessary, eventual replacement. Bob Vila suggested starting with your chimney or fireplace, HVAC and hot water heater to start, as well as any major appliances. Additionally, you should check and replace any filters, from the one in your central HVAC system to smaller ones, such as water filters in a refrigerator with a water and ice dispenser.
Getting home insurance
Homeowners insurance is an effective method of protecting your home and belongings - and yourself, in the case of legal liability tied to a person injuring themselves on your property. It's also mandated by most mortgage agreements, so many homeowners need to seek out this coverage as they complete the homebuying process. There are lots of home insurance policies out there, including variations based on the amount of coverage you want or need, as well as taking the unique nature of structures like condominiums and older homes into account. For an in-depth look at home insurance, check out our guide.
Knowing your responsibilities
Understanding exactly what you're responsible for early on can save you a lot of headaches down the road. For individual homes, finding your property line and assessing the area for hazards such as dead trees or large branches extending over a neighbor's house allows you to make important decisions before any kind of incident occurs. While you should check local laws to determine liability for cross-boundary accidents like a collapsing tree, you can also remove the potential for any disputes with a little pruning or a more thorough removal for a dead tree. Understanding property boundaries also helps you avoid extra work, such as mowing part of a neighbor's lawn.
If you own a condo or similar unit within a building, you should clarify which responsibilities are yours and which fall with the association or management group. You may have to fix plumbing issues for pipes inside your walls, but not for those that extend throughout the building or into the central water main, for example.
No matter where you own your first home, the professional movers and packers at Atlas make getting there as easy as possible. To find out more, get in touch with your local agent today!