5 Things No One Told You About Owning a Home
Owning a home comes with a lot of responsibilities. Some are fun, while others...not so much. If you want to go from being a window shopper to being a homeowner, it’s time you get the real story about owning real estate.
Down Payment or Disneyland?
Life is all about choices. Have you ever budgeted to go to Disneyland? It’s sometimes called The Happiest Place on Earth, and I absolutely agree. But the costs of tickets, flights, food, and hotels add up quickly. You could be faced with choosing between saving for a trip to Disneyland or saving for a down payment to invest in your own home.
This isn’t to say that choosing Disneyland is a bad option. My own family has chosen the trip multiple times. But in order to afford the home you want, may have to choose which you want more.
And it’s not just Disney. Really, this has to do with being intentional with spending, and setting priorities for your money. It may not be the Land of Mouse that pulls you away from your savings goals. Perhaps it’s cutting back on eating out, retail therapy, or driving a less expensive car. Whatever it is, saving for that down payment is rarely easy, and can happen only through intentional choices with your money.
The Crawl Space and Attic are Scary
It is a rare breed of human—a hero, really—that doesn’t mind crawling in tight and dark spaces. These heroes are typically skilled plumbers, electricians, and inspectors, although I’ve met plenty of people in those trades who don’t enjoy shimmying into those dark access holes, either!
Hopefully, this expedition will be a rare occurrence for you. But if you’re going to own a home, you should gather your courage, secure a headlamp, and check out the dark areas of your property at least a couple of times each year.
The main things you want to look out for are cracked or blocked air vents, and signs of moisture. If you have any cracks in your attic or crawl space vents, you’ll want to seal those up ASAP so critters don’t move in. If vents are blocked on the outside by debris, clear it. Find the source of any debris on the inside and address it. Often this is from a critter or perhaps a faulty dryer vent.
If you have an older roof you’ll probably want to climb into the attic and make sure you don't have any moisture spots on your sheathing (the layer of material attached to the structural frame of the roof).
If you do see any of these things, get a pro out immediately to take a closer look.
Choosing a Paint Color is Stressful
For real! Have you ever chosen paint colors? Turns out paint isn’t cheap! And getting that just-right color is a challenge. If your property needs some paint protection, I highly suggest buying sample-sized containers. Use them to paint 24 x 24 inch squares on each side of your house. This can also be done for interior walls by painting some swatches on different walls in the rooms you want to repaint.
Lighting can make all the difference in how a color appears. Let the sample patches sit for a few days, or even weeks, to see how you like them in various lighting conditions at different times of the day. Then you’ll be much more prepared to dive into the big paint purchase with the peace of mind that you won’t be repeating the painting process—and the expense—for a while.
Curb Appeal Fades
Some of us love new construction: the on-trend designer color for the front door, the fresh and perfectly placed plantings in the front flower beds, and even the allure of brand new toilets are really important to some.
(Funny enough, I have heard some version of “I need to know that no one else’s butts have been on the toilets” from various clients multiple times now. By the way, you can replace toilet seats pretty easily…).
Others want to build their homes themselves to completely customize it for their wants and needs.
Regardless of whether you're buying new or existing construction, keep in mind that those once-new items will eventually age, and curb appeal typically needs to be refreshed or replaced. What? You mean I’m telling you that owning a home takes work and upkeep?!
Yes. That is exactly what I want you to remember.
It isn’t all a big chore, though. To keep my front porch fresh, for instance, I opted to make a statement with some big black metal planters. About twice a year I replace the fading annuals or past-their-prime perennials with new plantings. This simple change refreshes the entire porch. Other simple ways to freshen up your curb appeal might be to add some seating & accent pillows.
Everything Costs At Least $1,000
Have you ever heard anyone complain about the expense of owning a boat? One boat-owning friend told me that the word boat is actually not just a simple word— it’s an acronym for Break Out Another Thousand.
The same seems to be true for owning a home.
“Everything costs $1,000!” is a joke my husband, Josh, and I have going. Since we opted for a fixer upper we have found out why real estate is classified as an investment! Okay, so maybe some projects are less than $1k, but you can bet that most projects will cost more than you anticipated and will take longer than you wanted.
To help keep projects and spending on track and prioritized, Josh and I have a “Honey Do” list that we share electronically with each other. We use it to track our upcoming tasks and wish list items for the house. Every time we learn the cost of something we’re considering we update the list. This helps us to budget appropriately and makes the process way more fun.
Even if we had purchased brand new or built custom, eventually we would have projects or updates to do. Understanding up front at the time of purchase that home ownership costs more than just the down payment, monthly mortgage, and property taxes is super important.
A good rule of thumb is to annually budget 1%-4% of the purchase price of your home for routine maintenance. On top of that, you need to consider the costs of any extra projects to update or upgrade items on your wish list. And the older the home is when you purchase it, the higher the amount you need to budget to spend.
But Fear Not...
I certainly hope none of this scares you away from owning a home. One of my values it keeping it real. I want to help people fulfill their home ownership dreams, but I also want to make sure they’re as prepared as possible.
Are you ready to dive in a little more deeply into seeing how ready you are, or explore the next steps to home ownership after Step Zero: Daydream? Download my helpful guide 6 Steps To Becoming A Homeowner and let’s get you on the path to home ownership!