Financial advisors will tell you time and time again that owning property is the path to generational wealth. And while historically, men and particularly white men owned most of the houses, research organization Urban reports that the percentage of Black women homeowners has been steadily on the rise. Black women are finally seeing a leg up in a category of investment that greatly predicts one’s long-term wealth.
If you have met with a mortgage broker or assessed your finances and decided you’re in a place to buy a home, that could be a big step towards financial stability. However, owning a home comes with many surprises that plenty of first-time buyers wish someone would have told them. They’re certainly no reason not to buy a home, but knowing about these factors in advance can make the transition from renter to owner smoother. Here are nine things first-time homeowners aren’t often aware of:
You Need A Lot Of Insurance
You will learn about this early in the mortgage process. You’ll need home insurance to qualify for a mortgage, and that’s not the end of it. Depending on which state you’re in, you might need to add additional insurance. For example, California requires homeowners to add earthquake insurance to their basic policy – and it costs more than the basic policy. You’ll also want appliance insurance. This covers things like your plumbing, electric, water heater, air conditioning and heater. Your home insurance does not cover these items.
Your Mailbox Gets Spammed
The moment you buy a home, it will feel like every vendor in a 100-mile radius heard about it. Your mailbox will be filled with promotions and coupons from every handyman, home decorator, landscaper, cleaning company and realtor in the area. Many of these senders disguise their promotions to look like official mail from the city or your mortgage company.
You Can’t Help But Invest In Your Neighborhood
Once you own your property, you’ll care deeply about the goings-on in the neighborhood. As a renter, you might not have thought about it. But if you’ve committed to a 30-year mortgage, you will want to know about the new construction projects happening on the block or whether or not speed bumps get put in. You’ll have an opinion on whether or not the city should let a nightclub go up at the end of the street. All of these factors impact your property value.
Your Bills Are Higher
If your landlord covered many of your utilities in the past, you might be surprised by your new cost of living. You’ll be responsible for everything including the water bill, power bill, Wi-Fi and cable. If you live in a condo, then you’ll pay HOA dues to cover things like landscaping and new equipment in the workout room. These were costs that your landlord used to take on, but now you’re your own landlord.
You Get A Big Tax Break
The good news is that, while it seems like costs are racking up, you do get some breaks. For example, you can deduct a portion of your mortgage interest from your taxes. If you financed at a high rate, this can result in major savings.
Every Problem Is Your Problem
Every time a faucet leaks, a light fixture is faulty or an appliance acts up, it’s on you to handle it. It’s a good idea to get local recommendations for a reliable handyman before a problem comes up. That way, you don’t make a panicked decision and overpay when you have an issue.
Your Friends Might Think You’re Loaded
As soon as you tell your friends that you bought a place, they think you’re wealthy. The truth is, you might be the most cash-poor you’ve been in a while. Between closing costs, moving costs and decorating costs, your savings can be greatly depleted in the home-buying process. It’s worth it, because you’re building equity, but you might not be rolling in it the way your friends think you are.
There’s a lot to maintain and tune up around a property. You only notice it once you’re an owner. You need to change your air conditioning filter as well as get your AC tuned up. If you have a multi-level home or live on the upper level of a condo building, you need to hire a company to wash the exterior of your upper windows (this is rarely included in HOA dues). Then there’s landscaping and repairing cracks in your driveway. The list seems never-ending. (Just remember it’s worth it – your asset is appreciating)
You’ll never have so many important documents to track as when you’re a new homeowner. There’s a manual for every appliance from the water heater to the refrigerator. Then there are the warranties and insurance policies. There’s your end-of-year mortgage statement for tax purposes – not to mention your initial mortgage documents and a copy of the title proving you own the place. Having a good organizational system is crucial when you own a home.