Making the Most of Your First Year of Homeownership

Houston Premium Homes Realty Group agent

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions that most of us will ever make — and one of the most exciting! After weeks or even months of searching through home listings, calling and emailing with your real estate agent, making an offer, and navigating the whirlwind that is closing, you’ve finally sealed the deal on your brand new home.

Now it’s time to enjoy all the amazing benefits that come with owning a home while taking some simple steps to make the most of your home investment and set yourself up for long-term success and a happy life.

The first year of living in a new home is sure to be an exciting time, especially if you’re a first time homeowner. It’s important to go in knowing what to expect, and how to prepare for any occasion.

Here are some important steps that new homeowners and first time home buyers can take in their first year to get as much as possible out of their new home, while making the transition better and more seamless at every step of the way:

Customize Your Home Space

This is your home now — make it yours! The first few months in a new space are a great opportunity to personalize it for your comfort, safety and pleasure. Change the locks, bring in your furniture, apply a fresh color of paint and décor, and make small changes and repairs right away — such as checking and replacing your smoke alarm batteries, replacing hardware on doors and cabinets. Take some time to deep clean inside and around the home’s major appliances, as well as the closets and pantries.

But don’t bite off more than you can chew. Many home experts will encourage you to take some time to settle in before taking on larger projects. Give yourself some time to get to know your new space, and set on a budget. How do you use the space? What do you really need to do to make the space more functional and comfortable?

Purchase What You Need

A new home often comes with more space, indoors and outdoors. Before you move and as you start to settle in, keep a list of what you’ll need to buy.

For example, if you’re purchasing a home that comes with a lawn or garden, you may need to invest in gardening tools, a lawn mower, a weed eater, and other outdoor equipment that you don’t already have on hand. Moving from a rented apartment to a condo? You may need to purchase a toolkit, now that you won’t be able to call up your landlord for minor fixes. Upgrading from one bath to two? Make sure you have enough floor mats, shower curtains, soap, and other essentials for each bathroom space.

Understand Your New Home Utilities

One thing not to overlook in the hustle and bustle of moving is your utilities, including water, gas, electricity, cable, internet, and so on. Make sure to transfer your accounts and billing over to your new address, or activate and set-up accounts for any utilities that you’re not already paying for.

In your first several months, have your home’s systems inspected and serviced by a professional, including your HVAC and plumbing.

Change out your home’s air filters, and make sure that you know exactly where your new home’s water shut-off valves or gas pipes, and electrical panels are, in case of an emergency.

At the same time, keep in mind that your utility bills may go up if you’re upsizing into a bigger home. Take some time to think about your budget. You may be able to work with your service providers to explore payment options, estimate your future usage, setting up auto-payments, and set up a billing system that works for you. You can also take some simple steps to control your power and water usage, especially during the winter and summer seasons.

Plan for New Expenses

After making your downpayment, handling closing costs, and paying for all of the expenses involved with moving, it’s very common for your first few months in a new home to be a relatively tight time financially.

Meanwhile, first-time homeowners should expect new expenses to come up as they get accustomed in their new home — including common costs such as home insurance, property taxes, utilities, maintenance, loan payments, interest fees, and HOA fees. These new bills can be intimidating, but they don’t have to hold you back from enjoying your brand new home.

As you move forward with your transaction, talk with your real estate agent about new costs you can expect in your new home. Go over your expenses and set a realistic budget, including saving for unexpected emergencies like plumbing or landscapers. Create a system for remembering the dates when all your payments are due, so that you can get accustomed to things more quickly. This might include setting up reminders on your phone, or writing out billing dates on a paper calendar and hanging it up.

Keep track of receipts, and organize your documents and paperwork such as insurance records, property taxes and information from your loan servicer. If you could use a helping hand figuring out how to manage your expenses or prepare for tax time, consider bringing on a financial advisor or accountant to offer some professional help.

Create Your Five-Year Plan

What does your future hold? While nobody can ever know the answer for sure, a big life transition like buying your brand new home can be a great time to reflect on where you’ve been and where you would like to go.

After you’ve spent some time in your new space, you can begin to prioritize future upgrades and renovation projects. Create a realistic timeline for when and how you want to tackle home projects in the future. Give yourself some time to get to know the house and the neighborhood, and how it functions. For instance, you might find that you don’t actually want to change out the bathroom tile, adding a pool or knock down that wall after living with them for a few months.

Meanwhile, think about your life goals in the short-term, and how your new home might play into your plans and goals. For example, if you want to start your own business within two years, you might benefit from creating a dedicated home office where you can focus on work. If you are planning on building your family, it may be important to start figuring out the timeline for setting up a nursery. Buying a home may also be a great time to think about other big steps, like researching life insurance policies, paying off your credit cards or revising your estate plan. Look for local professionals who can help you understand how your new home fits into your big picture.

Enjoy Your Time at Home

It’s easy to get overwhelmed handling all the little things that come up in your new home or property. Don’t forget to take some time to really enjoy your new space! Host a housewarming party — which you can easily do online during COVID-19. Watch a move in your new living room. Unwind on your new patio or porch. Host a cookout. Take advantage of your new space to start a hobby you’ve always dreamed about, whether that means baking up something amazing in the kitchen, tending to your yard and planting, or learning a new instrument.

You’ve earned the chance to enjoy yourself. Savor the little moments — and all the joys that come with being a Houston homeowner!

We’re Your Real Estate Team for Every Event in Life

Buying a home is a big deal — and you want the very best helping you move forward. That’s exactly what our One-Stop Shop provides.

At Houston Premium Homes Realty Group, we know our jobs aren’t over when you walk away from the closing table. Our One-Stop Shop is your real estate team for life. That means keeping you in the loop about any changes in the market that could help you whenever you’re ready to buy or sell again, while also helping you find ways to make the most of your investment and save money.