Congratulations! Buying a house is a huge accomplishment! It’s also a big investment that will pay you in the future according to how well you take care of it along the way.
Our goal is to help you maintain your new asset by expecting the unexpected costs and getting the most bang for your buck as you continue to build wealth in real estate ownership. Below are a few ways to start:
(1) Secure Your Home
- Change your locks (often included in your home warranty, with trade call fee)
- Check smoke detectors
- Check carbon monoxide detectors
(2) Budget Like a Landlord
The biggest surprise of home ownership is how much things cost to repair when you become the lord of your own land. (Fun!) Regular maintenance of your home should cost about one percent of the value of your home each year.
- Set Aside 1% of your home’s value starting with your purchase price, in a separate account each year, reserved for maintenance. If you don’t use it after a few years, consider it a great start toward an investment property. Spoiler alert – you will probably use it.
- Stay Current with the Market Value of Your Home. If you don’t know what your house is worth, ask your realtor! We monitor the value of our clients’ homes to help you manage your finances.
(3) Prepare for Emergencies by Knowing Your Utilities.
Get your head in the game while you’re sane. It’s easier to get numbers handy when you aren’t dealing with an emergency. Start with collecting phone numbers for your utility companies and corresponding tradesmen to solve problems. Our brokerage has a robust list of tried and true vendors that we’re happy to share, request it here. We highly recommend you save these numbers in your phone and post phone numbers by each of your access points to mitigate stress in crises. Those moments will come.
- There are different water companies for each municipality.
- Know where your shut off is and share it with everyone in your house. (Usually located in the basement or near the water meter location on the outside of your house. Call your plumber or water company if you don’t know.)
- Label it well for your partner and kids so they can find it when you’re not home.
- Know Three Plumbers: Usually the best plumbers are booked, but they will make time for loyal customers. Even if you don’t call them very often, use the same person every time and build a relationship with them when they work for you.
Find your circuit breaker and test all of the shut offs to ensure they’re connected and accurately labeled. If you don’t know where this is from power-boxing as a kid, then here is a little refresher, go to the power box on the outside of your house and pull the lever on the right side of the gray box.
- Rocky Mountain Power (888) 221-7070
- Stash some flashlights in easy spots where you can find them during power outages.
- Know Three Electricians: Same advice as plumbers.
It is rarely necessary to shut off the main gas valve on your home. Your best bet with gas-related issues is to immediately call Dominion Energy if you sense that something is off or gas is leaky. It’s free to have them come assess before it becomes a bigger problem.
- Dominion Energy (800) 323-5517
- Most natural gas-related issues can be solved by a plumber, so keep your three plumbers at the ready
- Your provider is usually your city or municipality
- A plumber is a good place to start, but we recommend having a main line sewer rooter on hand for when the worst happens.
(4) Avoid Deferred Maintenance
Avoid deferred maintenance by following a schedule. Save money later by taking care of your biggest asset on a consistent basis. Use the inspection report from your purchase as a to-do list before you tackle aesthetic updates. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Focus on maintaining your structure will save you money in the long run.
- Change Furnace Filters. Set a calendar reminder to change your filters every 3-6 months. I do it in April and October and write on my filters the date in Sharpie, so I know the last time they were changed. Regular changes will keep your home efficient and save you money on utilities.
- Pro Tip: Change your air filters more often than you think. Set them up on “Subscribe and Save” on Amazon and change them every time they come to your door. Maintain Your Roof. Keep your gutters clear to avoid back ups and water in the wrong places. Get into your attic and familiarize yourself with the pipes coming through. Take regular pictures to monitor change. Penetration points are the most likely to have leaks.
- Live With It. Live in the house for a year before making major changes to see how everything holds up in all seasons so you don’t end up spending money twice.
(5) Home Warranty, Homeowners Insurance, and Supplemental Insurance, oh my!
Take the free(-ish) money and run! Set yourself up for success so that when unexpected things happen, your wallet doesn’t suffer. There’s nothing quite like a surprise $20,000 main line break when you’re about to start a kitchen remodel, so set up the right back up plan before that happens. Use your Home Warranty first and use Homeowners Insurance as a second option, only if you need It.
(A) Use Your Home Warranty for Everything During Your First Year of Ownership
- Ask your realtor to negotiate a home warranty into your home purchase.
- Mark your calendar for 30 days before it expires.
- Print out what it covers and what it doesn’t and paste it in your furnace room. You’ll never see it until you need it.
- Keep a list of fixes that need to be done by trade (plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc.).
- Bundle the maintenance in the first year together by trade and only pay one trade call fee.
(B) Utilize Homeowners Insurance Only If Needed
- If you didn’t shop for your own Homeowners Insurance, you could save a little by shopping around and switching to someone and bundling with your car insurance.
- You can use it for fire, water, natural disaster damage, or even if your bikes get stolen. Use it wisely! It’s there for emergencies, but just like any other insurance—they’ll increase your rates in the future if you take advantage, regardless of the size of the claim.
(C) Enroll in HomeServe Coverage for Your Sewer Line
- If you live on a tree-lined street (lucky you!) or in a neighborhood with older infrastructure, we highly recommend enrolling in HomeServe. It’s $6-8 per month, depending on what you add on and can end up saving you thousands in the event of an emergency.
- It’s painful, but always read the fine print so you know what it does and does not cover.
(6) Boost Your Savings and Get Another Downpayment Ready!
Your home is a long-term investment. Real estate is one of the best ways to build wealth, so get that account and start building on it little by little and then start saving for another down payment.
We are always here if and when you need us after you buy your home! There are a lot of moving parts and we are here to serve if you run into hiccups along the way.
Niche Homes Realtor Betsy Broadwater has been supporting clients with their homeownership goals since 2021. She’s an expert in national and international relocation to and from Salt Lake City, with a focus on working with refugee families resettling in Utah.