5 things you should know AFTER you move into your new home
YOU MADE IT! You did! The stress is over, the tears of joy and maybe a little panic have been shed. You’ve probably cracked open that bottle of wine (or if you are like me that beer) and sat on a box in your probably empty living room and just took it all in.
If this is your first home and you didn’t have a lot of support about what to do about what happens after the home buying process, have no fear, I made all of the mistakes, or as I like to call them “discoveries” for you.
Read carefully and enjoy.
1. Get to know your neighbors.
This is one of those things that doesn’t happen anymore but I cannot stress doing this enough. We’ve all seen this in movies. Someone moves into the neighborhood and immediately the door bell rings and there’s this family with a creepy smile and some casserole or baked goods in their hands welcoming you into the neighborhood. Yeah, that doesn’t happen in real life. The most you will get as you are unloading your UHaul is the neighbors outside pretending to water their driveways to get a peek at who moved into the new house and maybe a wave.
Seize that opportunity to walk over and introduce yourself. You wouldn’t believe the things I found out in one conversation. I got all the tea. I bought my house in Orlando, FL sight unseen from the un-comfort of my tiny apartment in San Diego, CA. I was completely dependent on my realtor to give me the scoop and have my back on whether or not this was a good choice and she didn’t I just lucked out…barely. My lovely neighbors let me know which vendors wouldn’t rip me off, they let me know where I can take my children to have fun and which place to stay away from, they let me know the real history of the home and that my house was a rental (something my realtor failed to tell me) which explained why the home was in such disrepair and why everyone in the community seemed so thrilled to have us move in. They also gladly watch my home when I travel. Get to know your neighbors.
2. Read your paperwork
I know you are probably exhausted from paperwork by now. I know I was as well but listen to me when I tell you to read your paperwork. It was but just one week into becoming a brand new home owner did my washer, dryer and fridge broke on me. I was planning on replacing these appliances anyway but I wasn’t ready to do it so soon and it wasn’t quite in the budget yet but these were major appliances. So I moved some money around from my remodeling budget ( which we will talk about next) ran over to what became my second home, The Home Depot and gave up my left kidney…I mean swiped my card and took home a brand new washer and dryer set plus the 4 piece kitchen appliance set. No big deal right? WRONG. My wife was shuffling through the papers the following week and asked me why we had two home owner’s insurance policies. I thought to myself that couldn’t be right so I picked up the paper and began to read Home Warranty and in this Home Warranty that the seller graciously had paid for included appliances should they break. I broke. You think I would learn my lesson. Oh no. When you become a home owner, you receive tons of mail. Some of it looks very official, very urgent and makes it look like you forgot to order and pay for title things. READ IT ALL THE WAY. I can’t tell you how many times I panicked and began to fill out a check before realizing it was just an advertisement of a service trying to get me to pay for documents you don’t need and all ready have. Save yourself time and money and frustration and just read your paperwork.
3. Don’t rush the remodel
The home improvement shows ruined me. I’m just going to get that out of the way. I think for me, the most exciting part of becoming a home owner is getting to turn the house into a home. Design it how I would like it to be designed and pretending I’m on one of those shows I binge on tv. I didn’t really have a budget in mind I just knew that once I set foot in the home the first thing I would do was tear it up. (See photos) And that is what I did. I got to the point that I lived in Home Depot they knew me by my first name. A few tips. Get a Home Depot credit card. If you don’t have a lot of credit cards already this will help with your cash flow. Trust me you will need to conserve your cash as unexpected things will come up. This will also help you build more on your credit, just make sure to not max it out right away and to pay it on time. When I first moved it I made sure to do almost every room in the house at the same time one right after the other. It was pure madness. No I’m not rich, yes my wife and kids voted me off the island. I quickly blew through my budget even as I was doing most of the work myself and ended up leaving some rooms unfinished because of it. My suggestion is to choose one maybe two smaller projects every 6 months to a year. Take your time. Your home is not going anywhere. Remember there are a lot of new expenses that come with a home. In my case, as you read above all new appliances. Plan out your budget, put in a little padding for incidentals but STICK TO IT. If it doesn’t work for your budget don’t do it. Be mindful of how much you are putting into your home because oftentimes the value you feel you are putting into your home, you will not get in resale value. For example do not put in $150K into your kitchen alone when your whole house is only worth $120K and the house next door only sold for $110K yesterday. Be realistic.
4. Contractor Vetting
So I have always been known to be pretty handy and I’m glad I saved myself some money by doing a lot of the work myself, however I couldn’t do everything myself. Since I realized that I was starting to bite off more than I can chew with time and my HGTV inspired over confidence in my abilities, I decided to hire a contractor. Lucky for me I did the smart thing and asked my dad for tips with this one. As you may have read in my earlier blog, my parents were real estate investors buying, selling and renting homes and apartments and have hired their fair share of contractors. I was lucky enough to grow up with all the good, the bad and the ugly stories around the dinner table about this very subject. There are a few things you want to make sure you do when you vet and hire a contractor. The first thing would be to verify the contractors licenses. There is nothing worse than ending up with violations or liabilities in your home that will be costly in the long run. Make sure that you get at the very minimum of three quotes and that they are all within 5 to 10% of each other, anything lower or higher than that is a red flag. Verify references and work. In the age of social media its easy for contractors to steal pictures and pass the work off as their own. Make sure that the work doesn't start until all the material is on the job and always ask about subcontractors.
5. Change your air filter!!!!
This was a $10k mistake. I know you are probably wondering why the heck is this number 5 but let me tell you....because no one told me. I live in a two story home with two air conditioning units and I never bothered to check the air filters nor change them when I moved it. Turns out they hadn't been changed since God knows when and they clogged up my system and it broke my air conditioning units. And just like the fridge I didn't realize I had a home warranty and I had to replace both units. No matter where you live keep up regular maintenance of your property whether it's changing your air filter regularly or maintaining your gutters, pool, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, chimney or anything else depending on where you live. Keeping up with routine maintenance will save you thousands in the long run.