I was on a cross-country flight recently and overheard one flight attendant congratulating another on his purchase of a new home. “I’m a homeowner and I’m telling you, man, just take one room at a time or you will be overwhelmed.” The exchange reminded me of how monumental- or at least significant– a home purchase is. And with it the feelings of responsibility. I have buyers that are moving out of Manhattan soon. The husband has been a city kid his whole life. The thought that he is now responsible for what a monthly maintenance fee covered, from faucet leak to changing from heating to cooling was overwhelming to him.
Here are three tips to take the mystery out of home ownership:
1. Educate Yourself: Knowledge Is Power holds true here. Ask your real estate agent to obtain a list of the current service providers that take care of the home you are buying. This includes plumber, HVAC company, sprinkler system, electrician, appliance repair company, pool company, generator company, general handyman, waste collector, landscaper, pest service and snow plow service. These are folks who know how your home operates. You may decide that you want someone different, but to start out, these folks are worth an interview.
2. Bring In An Expert: If you truly don’t know anything about mechanicals, sprinklers, etc., you may want to bring in a property management company or contractor you have had recommended, to vet the current list of providers, and recommend new ones, as needed. Your real estate agent should be able to help you with a provider name.
3. Consider Service Contracts: Some disciplines, such as HVAC and pest control, offer service contracts. These are worth looking into, and depending upon the age of your home, history of issues, and past experience that previous homeowners have had, you may find a service contract takes the worry of staying on top of regular maintenance requirements or recommendations.
Deferred maintenance is not what you want your homeowner “M.O.” to be. Being proactive and attuned to annual and semi-annual services will hold you, and your property, in good stead.