The 5 Things a Real Estate Editor Learned 2 Years Into Homeownership
Homeownership has its ups and downs. It's essential to be prepared for the financial and labor commitments it entails and to embrace the experience, knowing that it's not just about investments but creating a meaningful life.
1. The Unforeseen Costs: Homeownership has brought pride and self-expression, like painting our front door as we wish. Yet, the expenses for maintenance, repairs, and unexpected issues have exceeded my expectations. Alongside routine maintenance like gutter cleaning and chimney servicing, we encountered surprising issues, like a dishwasher breakdown due to the previous owner's mistake. This resulted in extra costs for installation. Electrical problems on the second floor and various unexpected projects further added to the financial burden.
The physical labor involved, from lawn care to home repairs, demands constant attention. While homeownership builds equity, the costs and labor have been more than expected.
2. Delay Major Changes: Living in the space before making significant alterations is wise. Initially, I had ambitious plans for a kitchen island and bathroom replacement, but the practicality of these changes became evident after moving in. The island would obstruct the kitchen, and the bathroom, though in need of an update, was not a top priority given other expenses.
3. Consider Larger Mortgage Payments: Making extra mortgage payments, if feasible, can result in substantial long-term savings. It reduces the interest on the loan and can save thousands or more over time. However, this option should be considered alongside maintaining savings for unexpected home issues.
4. Get to Know Neighbors: In suburban living, getting to know your neighbors can be highly beneficial. They provide insights into local services, schedules, and are a source of assistance when needed. Building relationships with neighbors can be a valuable part of homeownership.
5. Don't Obsess Over Home Value: Frequently checking your home's market value can lead to unnecessary stress. Your home is not just an investment; it's where you create memories and build a life. Home values typically appreciate over time, so don't worry too much about temporary fluctuations. Focus on enjoying your home.