Southern Maryland Best Buys


They Don't Teach Home Ownership in School

They don't teach it but they should! What good set of tips on things to think about that will cost you over time so you prepare for these in your budget. It is no different than preparing for things to budget in your business.

Home OwnershipSadly, No one really teaches Home-ownership and for what could be the largest investment in a persons life, way too many homeowners have no plan for owning and maintaining a home.

There is no shortage of information on how to qualify for buying a home and how much home one can afford. What is not out there in abundance is everything else about the home and it is significant.

Taking a buyer through the paces of qualifying and getting a mortgage to close is a service and it is natural that some can help the new homeowner better than others. But what about the next day after they move in and the reality of what's coming begins to face the new homeowners.

Many first time buyers who have rented see the rent money going out and into the pocket of the landlord and figure they could just as easily own a home as pay rent. And yes that is true but there are costs associated with owning it that far surpass the mortgage that you were told you could qualify for.

Home Insurance: One tip here is to be sure to get enough insurance with an escalating clause that covers the replacement of the home should it be destroyed. So how much did you budget? Humm, No Budget?

Homes are subject to all kinds of maintenance issues from the really expensive to just the little annoying things that seem to accumulate. The roof has a useful life span. How long is it? If it is not new and has a shorter life span, how much have you budgeted for its eventual replacement? A roof should be inspected at least once every three years. Have you budgeted for it? Humm, No Budget?

What about painting the exterior? Is there a garden? Do you have all the tools and the supplies to tend it? How about the lawn, will you be paying someone to take care of it? If not, do you have a the lawnmower and edger and other maintenance tools budgeted? Remember, Lawn movers also have a useful life and the less expensive ones break down. 

Utilities: When you renting, the cost of electric for the small apartment wasn't all that much. But if your new home is much larger, the heating and cooling costs go up exponentially. What are you budgeting for utilities and cable and water. Remember that lawn watering at the apartment was paid by the landlord and the coin operated laundry was cheap in comparison to owning you own washer and dryer and paying the water bill. How much have you budgeted? Humm, no budget?

That new office at home with the new computer, printer, and all the other equipment that needs charged made the electric bill surge. Don't forget about the heating and cooling bill in the oh so wonderful new space. It can cost plenty. What have you budgeted for the extreme hot and cold months on your utilities bill. 

Then we get down to pests. It is good to have a pest inspection on your home annually. You should be budgeting the inspection. But what if you get termites or have have other infestations. There will be a nice bill for remediation. 

How Old are the appliances? Typically they have a 10 to 15 year life cycle. If you appliances are not new, chances are during your ownership they will either break down or fail. How much are you budgeting for repairs or replacement ? Humm, No Budget?

Carpets and some flooring wear out or get soiled or stained to where they can't be cleaned. How much are you budgeting for replacement costs. Investing in well designed hard surface flooring can last decades and wood floors can be for a lifetime. The caveat here is if you take care of them and maintain them. How much are you budgeting for their care?

These are just some of the costs associated with owning a home. Maintenance costs when budgeted properly will help maintain the value and any new capital improvements can increase the value. Conversely, lack of maintenance and not having a well established budget for replacement costs can decimate the value. 

Sadly they don't teach Home ownership in school. But if you connect with the right real estate professional, they will help establish these budgets and show you the benefits of a well maintained and well managed clean home. 

I am going to step out on a limb and suggest that every home owner should have an active home warranty. I have had my home warranty renewed for every year that I have owned my home and it has saved me thousands and thousands of dollars in repair and replacement costs. This home warranty like my home insurance is a key part of my household budget. 

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William Johnson, The Vice of San Diego real Estate





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Comment balloon 1 commentCheryl Ritchie • March 10 2013 08:09PM
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