10 Next Steps for New Homeowners

Now that you have taken the leap and made the move from renter to homeowner, it is time to take the next steps. Take some time to settle into your new home and enjoy the home you have worked so hard for, but do not neglect the important things you need to do next. Here are 10 things every new homeowner should do.

1. Verify Your Insurance Coverage

Your home is the single most valuable financial asset you own, and you need to take steps to protect it. That means having sufficient homeowners insurance coverage in place in case the worst happens. Now is the time to review your insurance coverage and make sure it will pay to rebuild your home in case of fire or other disaster. Keep in mind that the costs to rebuild may have gone up since you bought your home, so plan accordingly.

2. Protect Your Appliances

Now that you have a home, you are responsible for all home repairs, including the cost of repairing or replacing a broken stove or refrigerator. Those repairs can easily cost hundreds of dollars, so it is important to protect yourself. Look into home protection plans that pay for unexpected home repairs and appliance breakdowns. Compare the cost of those plans and determine if buying one makes sense for you.

3. Rebuild Your Emergency Fund

If your new home cost $200,000, a 20% down payment is a cool $40,000. If buying the home of your dreams left you without any emergency savings, now is the time to start rebuilding. Set up an automatic plan to transfer money from your checking account to your savings. Automating your savings is the best way to rebuild your emergency fund and get yourself back on track. In no time at all you will have the cash you need to handle a financial emergency.

4. Look for Creative Energy Savings

Now that you have a home of your own, you will need to think about utility bills and do what you can to reduce them. Look at the amount of insulation in the walls and attic and compare it to recommended amounts. Adding insulation to your home could dramatically reduce your energy costs and put more money in your pocket. Replacing your old drafty windows could have a similar impact. If your home is more than a few years old, chances are the windows could use an upgrade. The money you save could more than pay for the cost of the new windows.

5. Talk to Your Tax Professional

Owning a home does have its benefits, including tax savings. Now is the time to talk to your tax preparer about the new deductions you may be eligible for. From mortgage interest to real estate taxes, homeowners are eligible for a host of tax deductions. You may be surprised at how much you can save when April 15 comes around.

6. Avoid Overspending on Furniture and Accessories

Overspending on furniture and accessories is one of the biggest mistakes new homeowners make. If you spend too much on a new bedroom set or sofa, you might find yourself stretched if the furnace breaks or the refrigerator stops running in the middle of the night. Consider smart alternatives to expensive new furniture and home accessories, including consignment galleries and resale stores. You may be able to furnish your home for less than you ever imagined.

7. Get a Home Maintenance Checkup

Now is the time to make sure your furnace, air conditioning system and other major items in your home are working properly. A home maintenance checkup is the best way to avoid unexpected breakdowns and the costs associated with them. If the checkup uncovers any problems, you will be able to address those issues early, when they are less expensive to fix. If everything looks fine, you will have extra peace of mind and sleep more soundly at night.

8. Research Local Contractors

You hope you will not need a contractor for a long time, but it is important to have a list of local contractors just in case. Ask your neighbors for recommendations, talk to your relatives and coworkers and compile a list of local plumbers, electricians and home repair contractors. Even if you are handy and plan to do your own home repairs, it is important to have the phone numbers and contact information in place. The last thing you want to do is have to hunt down the phone number of a local plumber when your toilet is overflowing.

9. Keep Your Receipts in a Safe Place

The money you put into home improvements can be used to increase the cost basis of the property and reduce your taxes when you sell. Be sure to keep those receipts in a safe place so you can refer to them later. Scanning the receipts and saving them to your computer or cloud account is the best strategy. You can always keep the paper receipts for backup purposes.

10. Enjoy a Housewarming Party

Now that you are moved in and enjoying your new home, it is time to have a celebration. Buy a bottle of good wine, prepare your best meal and invite your friends over for a housewarming party. Be sure to thank the good friends who helped you move in. Finding helpers for a move is no easy feat and their hard work should be rewarded. Being a homeowner should be fun, and you will want to share that joy with the people you love.

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