Of all the major milestones in life, homeownership is among the most rewarding. Not only do you feel a major sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, but now you get to actually live in this wonderful symbol of all you’ve achieved.
There are, however, some things that you need to remember. First off, actually buying the home? That’s just step one. There is a lot more to do and you need to keep your eye on the ball. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
The key is to not get lost in the weeds. Focus on the big-picture factors ahead and you will have a more rewarding, pleasant experience in the months and years to come.
Specifically, look to these three tips that every new homeowner should follow as soon as your key hits the lock.
1. Prioritize Your Projects
It’s possible that your new home is already perfect. Congrats if so. Most people, however, will want to make some additions, renovations, and overhauls. Whether that’s re-doing a bathroom, going energy efficient, undergoing some major landscaping, or all of these things — plus more! — there may now be a ton on your plate.
Figure out which project should come first. Then tackle it aggressively and get it done before moving on to the next one. That probably sounds easy, but many new homeowners get a little too ambitious and end up overwhelmed when they kick off several renovations at once. Each one ends up half-finished or abandoned due to shifting attention spans or financial realities. Instead, take things one at a time and make sure they are completed properly. There will always be more time and more to do.
2. Prepay Your Mortgage
Unless you’re a multimillionaire — in which case, you may not need any tips at all — you probably have a mortgage. Most people have either a 30-year or 15-year mortgage, and the longer option is the most common. This is a sensible choice and keeps your payments lower, which can become a godsend if you experience a job loss or financial hardship.
Still, it’s usually advisable to pay more than you have to each year. This can be done in the form of adding a little more to the payment each month or simply adding one extra payment in full each year. Many people find tax return time as the perfect opportunity, for example. While this isn’t mandatory, prepaying your mortgage can potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars and knock years off your timeline to be debt-free. That makes dollars and sense.
3. Protect Your Investment
Beyond equity, the big difference between renting and owning is that what you have is now yours. That’s probably exactly why you made this move, but it also means you need to take a lot more responsibility. You need to perform maintenance and care to ensure that the water heater doesn’t flood the basement and install all the necessary fire safety precautions.
You will also need insurance — potentially including homeowner’s, fire, flood, and natural disaster — and physical protection should be a no-brainer. Look for a home security system with cutting-edge modern tech options like smart home monitoring, surveillance, motion detectors, remote access, and more. It’s now up to you to safeguard everything under your roof — especially your family.
Doing Homeownership Right
It’s hard to express the emotion you get from signing on the dotted line for the first time. You are now a homeowner. Now, the goal is to get the most out of this experience by staying prepared, confident, and knowledgeable about what it takes to really turn a house into a home.
While there are countless dos and don’ts about homeownership, you should consider each of the following carefully: prioritize your projects, prepay your mortgage if possible, and always protect your investment with smart home monitoring, insurance, and other common-sense safeguards.
This will likely be the biggest purchase you ever make in your life. Put your all into it and try to be the best homeowner you can be.