Making the leap from "renter" to "owner" is a bit daunting, but the payoff is huge. As any veteran homeowner will tell you, there isn't anything quite like it.
But before you starting jumping at the thought of never paying rent again, remember that there are certain gives and takes to owning your home – for every perk that comes with it, there is an equal amount of added responsibility. So, to get you on the right track and ahead of the game in home ownership, here are some things that will make your experience much smoother:
• Eventually, it will break
There's no getting around it – with so much that could possible go wrong (even in a brand new home), something eventually will. Be it the water heater, A/C unit, plumbing, electricity, or anything else, you'll find that home maintenance is going to become a regular occurrence in your life. So, make your life easier by preparing for the expected – as a rule of thumb, you'll want to save around 1-3% of your home initial cost annually to cover any emergency maintenance issues.
• Get in the habit of checking things twice
When you own a car, it's generally a good idea to take an extra couple of seconds for a "walk around" before you go anywhere, and the same goes for when you own a home. If you're just grabbing the vacuum from the basement, take a look around for anything that looks out of place. In the attic? Make sure nothing is leaking through the roof. Making a habit of looking for problems with give you the upper hand in catching them early, and possibly saving you a mountain of cash.
• Know your appliances
If you're getting anything installed by a professional, do your best to hang around and watch them at work. Ask question about general life expectancy, simple maintenance, and what needs to be done to get the most out of the product. Whoever is installing it knows what they're doing, and can give you the answers you need to take the best care of your new appliances.
• It's never too early to prepare for the resale!
As you work and add on to your home over the years, you can add significant value to your home. But, it's important that everything you do to the home can be easily verified. For every professional service done, make a copy of the invoice and keep it in a specialized folder recording everything that is done to the home. Even when you do something yourself, consider taking before and after pictures and saving receipts – you'll be able to easily prove to any potential buyer that your home has been greatly improved, and is well worth the asking price.