Owning a house for the first time is exciting and stressful. There are so many variables and possible mistakes that make the experience interesting, to say the least. You can avoid a few rookie issues by following financial adviser’s opinions, but there are a handful of unspoken rules as well.
So, what are the mistakes new homeowners make? Whether it’s buying a house at the wrong time or getting the wrong insurance, we’ve all been there. Luckily, you can follow the suggestions throughout this article to save time, money, and energy.
Without any more hesitation, let’s review the most common mistakes of new homeowners below.
The 15 Mistakes That Most New Homeowners Make
1. Halfway Budgeting
Probably the most common mistake of all is that new homeowners forget to make a budget before they buy a house. If you have a mortgage that’s $2500/month, it’s only the beginning of your bills for the home. You’ll also have to factor in water, gas, electric, trash removal, lawn care, and more. Even if you work on the lawn yourself, the fuel will cost you a bit.
Unfortunately, random repairs are necessary. What happens when the water heater goes out, or the dishwasher stops running? Creating a budget that has wiggle room allows you to stay relaxed, and it prevents financial disasters.
2. Forgetting to Maintain the Exterior
When most people think of the word, ‘home,’ the interior comes to mind. A cozy bedroom, a luxurious living room, and a kitchen made for a chef are all in order. There’s far more involved with the process of taking care of a house than there is with an apartment.
- Old shed, that needs to be repainted.
- The gutter that’s clogged with wet leaves. Have a ladder?
- The trees will need to be trimmed, the backyard picked up and cut back.
- Don’t forget about the dead tree in your backyard if you have a woodsy area – that needs to be cut down. When we moved in our house we had to cut down two dead trees shortly after we moved in. This can set you back $2000+.
- What about the old fence that needs to be replaced? Your neighbor behind you may not want to pay for it so you may have to come up with the cash if it is your fence. This is another $1500-3000 often overlooked expense.
3. Getting Rid of Additional Rooms
If you have a clear vision of what you want the house to look like, stop for a minute and consider how it might affect the resale value. You’re probably not planning on selling your new home yet, but keep in mind that houses with more bedrooms and bathrooms often have a higher price tag.
An open floor plan seems like a great idea…until it lowers your resale value. There are situations where they make sense but you should talk with a realtor since they can tell you what other comparable houses in the area are doing for their renovations. If anything you should add bedrooms but that is an issue for another post.
4. Painting Everything Too Soon
Moving into a house is exhausting. Adding an entire painting job on top of that is far too much for most new homeowners. Not to mention that you might hate the paint later on, or it might not fit modern color schemes next year
5. Spending Too Much Money Right Away
You might want to renovate everything from the second you walk into the home but wait for a minute. Do you really need to change the carpet right away? Does the toilet really need an overall this week? Save the extra money and use it for possible repairs. The renovations will happen over time.
6. Trying to DIY Everything
Some people are more mechanically inclined than others; there’s no way around it. But you can save a lot of money by having someone professional do it for you. How so? If they mess up, you can blame them and charge for the costs. If you mess up on your own, there’s nobody else to blame.
Don’t try to be an electrician or plumber if you are not trained or experienced. Depending on the “repair” you may need to bring your plumbing and wiring up to code depending on where your house is and the age of it.
7. Not Following a Maintenance Schedule
Nobody wants to think about cleaning the kitchen, pruning the bushes, and cleaning the carpets. That being said, every chore plays an essential role in preventing repairs and keeping it all clean. Create a schedule right when you move in to stay on task.
Keeping to a schedule will also reduce your stress in the long term since Murphy’s Law tends to strike when you least expect it.
Expect things to break but prevent them if you catch them during their life expectancy.
8. Investing in Other Areas of Life
When you’re buying a house, you shouldn’t purchase anything else that’s considered a ‘big’ investment. Cars, motorhomes, boats, and other luxuries can become liabilities very quickly. You’ll also have to deal with a horrible debt to income ratio. Instead, wait for a few months after you’ve settled in.
9. Leaving Boxes Around
After a long move, you might find yourself leaving most of the boxes piled up in the garage. It’s tiring to go back and forth to unload everything repeatedly. While it’s okay to leave boxes around for a little bit, you shouldn’t let them sit for weeks in a row. Mice, spiders, and other critters get comfortable in your belongings. It’s also stressful to realize that you haven’t fully finished the moving process yet.
10. Trying to Fill Every Room Right Away
If you’re moving from an apartment to a house, you’ll notice that the rooms seem a bit empty. You probably only had enough stuff to fill about 700 sq. ft., but now you’re living in a 1500 sq. ft. house. Don’t make the mistake of buying furniture and accessories to fill every room right away. It’s a money dump, and you’ll end up finding things over time anyway.
11. Refusing to Get Insurance
Homeowner’s insurance can be cheap if you have good credit. Refusing to get the insurance can net you serious losses if you encounter a problem. You can cover fire damage, flood damage, theft, smoke marks, and almost everything else by calling a company and getting a good plan set up. In most cases, it’ll be less than $100 per month for homeowner’s insurance.
Get an additional water line and plumbing insurance. It is often offered from your water or electric utility company. It should be around $7/month but is well worth it. This will cover the water line going from your house to the street.
- Many houses built after the 1980s used a cheaper plastic water line that breaks after several years. If your house is now 40 years old then it is on its last leg.
- Two of our neighbors have had their waterline break in the last 5 years which has cost them thousands of dollars to call out a specialty plumbing company to fix. This is $5000 on the low end. I’ll pay $7 to not pay $5000 if something breaks. Money well spent.
12. Buying a House with Too Many Problems
Houses that need repairs right away (aka fixer-uppers) are pricey. Even if you have the predicted money in your bank account, you could end up way over your head. If you’re buying a house that needs repairs, make sure that you consider wood rot, mold, leaky pipes, and other common issues that happen to old homes.
13. Avoiding Rugs
Rugs are some of the best items that you can get to keep your home updated. Without them, carpet and hardwood can become damaged quickly. Foot traffic and heavy furniture leave indents and put pressure on the surfaces throughout the year, ruining the integrity and forcing you to have to buy new flooring too often.
14. Not Getting a Tool Kit
If you’re moving into a house, it’s almost essential that you buy a basic tool chest. Small repairs around the home can cost a fortune if you don’t repair them by yourself. While you certainly shouldn’t try to change the garage door alone, you can replace a showerhead or a sink drain with a basic toolset at home.
You don’t need to be Bob Villa but you should have a decent set of tools to fix the regular maintenance that will need to be fixed regularly.
We have reviewed thousands of tools and listed a few of the popular ones below in these posts. They will help you get quality, time tested advice. I wish I had this knowledge when I bought my first house.
15. Buying Too Soon
You might feel anxious and excited to buy a new house, but don’t jump the gun too quickly. Watch the housing market to see if it’s dipping. Make sure you are not making these mistakes with your home as well. Your marriage may be over but you can still save your home. When you’re ready to sell it again, wait for the market to get high. You can net a massive profit by flipping your house properly.
Owning a house for the first time or the fifth time is a journey. There are plenty of repairs, regardless of how old or new it is. Always make sure that you have a nest egg waiting in case you need to make an unexpected call to a handyman. The most common house issues revolve around money constraints. As long as you have the money tucked away, you’ll be fine.
Here are some takeaways from the post:
- DIY the small projects but pay someone else to do the hard work.
- Rugs are great because they prevent damage to the floor.
- Get yourself a tool chest to repair whatever comes your way.
- Don’t forget to follow a routine maintenance schedule.
- Get homeowner’s insurance as soon as possible.
- Always have a bit of fluff in your monthly budget.
- Atlantic Bay – Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid As a New Homeowner
- Blue Matter – 5 New Homeowner Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid