Woman checking off a list

For starters, congratulations on your first home purchase! Being a new homeowner is an invigorating and truly exciting time of your life. You get to paint, remodel, design, and build up things that represent you and lifestyle. You get to alter and develop the house so that it becomes a home for all who are living there.

There is also a lot to know (or learn about) when you’re a first-time homeowner. Such as scheduling mortgage payments and putting together an attractive yet functional curb appeal. But there’s more. As new parts of this experience emerge, there are a handful of things that you should be prepared for. Here are five facts about being a first-time homeowner that you should take into consideration.

1. Familiarize Yourself with Your New Home

One of the first things you need to do upon move-in (and perhaps even beforehand) is to familiarize yourself with the most important valves, off-switches, and hook-ups around the property.

Know where the water shutoff valve is located. A rush of water into your home can take a great toll on the new digs. Know where—and how—to turn off the water valve. A broken pipe could mean gallons of water inundating the interior of the home, and it has the potential to soak through the flooring and drywall and permanently damage valuable items. The valve is usually located near where the water main comes into the house, just in case you haven’t found it yet.

Don’t do any digging without first checking out where the cables, pipes, and wires are on the property. Calling 811, the national call-before-you-dig phone number, can mean the difference between spending a Saturday putting up a fence and spending a Saturday on the phone trying to find out who to call and how to rectify the problem of a broken pipe or damaged cables. Cover your bases before you dig.

2. Educate Yourself on the Basics of Home Maintenance

In theory, there’s always someone available to call for specialty jobs, but for some of the basics, you can educate yourself on smaller and beginner how-to projects. This will not only build up your knowledge base but can also help you to save more money. Unnecessary spending on home care and maintenance can be drastically reduced with a little bit of effort.

For example, if you want to add some raised beds in the backyard so you can start your long-term dream garden, simply find an alternate way to put them in. If you’re not up to par in terms of following a weekend-long DIY, then ask for help from someone with experience or, at the least, carpentry skills. It could end up being a valuable arrangement for both parties: you get hands-on learning experience and nice raised beds to start your veggie patch, and down the road, you can make a delivery or two of fresh veggies.

3. Have a Money Talk

If you’re sharing a living space with someone and the expenses have changed, be sure to stay on top of budgeting, covering bills, and where the financial responsibilities lie. If you’re decreasing your monthly housing payment by purchasing a property, take a portion of the difference and apply it to the mortgage payment. In balancing your budget, you’ll know exactly where things are with your pocketbook, and you’ll be empowered to make choices that could put you noticeably ahead in 5 or 10 years’ time, increasing equity build-up all the while.

Being a first-time homeowner is both rewarding and exhilarating. By taking charge financially to put yourself in a favorable place in both the short-term and long term means that you can reap the benefits for years to come.

4. Make a Move-In Checklist

This could be anything from inspecting the existing systems, checking out the breaker, and testing outlets and other electrical components to revisiting exterior items, such the gutters and porches. This gives you the opportunity to review the state of things around the house and estimate the next time you’ll have to revisit and inspect them. This can also provide an opportunity to locate any issues or potential problems that should be assessed for safety reasons, such as faulty wiring. Initial home inspections only cover so much, and you should know where yours stops so you can follow-up on the rest.

Having a clear overview of the features of your first home can help you better manage them over time. Caring and investing in your home is a great way to build equity and keep your property valued above market price.

5. Planning Ahead for the Future

A new home for today’s needs is alright, but what if you decide to start a family? Making sure you have enough space in your house for the future is immeasurably important. It would also behoove you to review your homeowner’s insurance. Before closing, lenders require that you purchase homeowner’s insurance, but some of the cheaper plans might not cover all that you need them to. Take another look at your plan, see where you’re covered (and where you might not be), and consider insuring any extras that don’t fall under the protection.

After budgeting for closing costs, move-in expenses, new furnishing, and initial projects, make sure there’s a buffer for any unexpected things. You might notice fixes that slipped under the radar during the home inspection, or maybe a few smaller things creep up, as things tend to do.

Knowing you’ve done your due diligence, now it’s time to kick back and enjoy the new place.

With a specialized lender like Rivermark Community Credit Union, you can move in knowing that you at least have the financial components covered. For any questions you have, feel free to reach out and ask.

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