Home ownership is the dream of most people. It represents the pinnacle of your accomplishments and the fulfillment of “The Great Australian Dream”. But wanting a home and actually owning one is a decision that requires serious thought. Home ownership is a transformative experience. It’s a great feeling and a monumental accomplishment but it also carries tremendous responsibilities. Thus, there are things you have to do before and after buying a new house.
5 Things to do Before Buying a New House
- Assess Your Financial Position. Buying a house will probably be your largest single purchase. Although your house will be an asset that has the potential to generate returns over time, it will still shake up your financial foundation. If you plan to apply for a home loan, you have to make sure your stream of income can accommodate the amortization without compromising your monthly expenses. The rule of thumb is: the cost of amortization must not exceed 28% of your monthly income.
- Evaluate Your Monthly Expenses. Home ownership means you are responsible for all maintenance and repairs. Your monthly summary of expenses would include power, water, telephone and Internet connection among others. If you have children, you will have to account for schooling needs, transportation and food as part of monthly expenses. Would your current stream of income accommodate these expenses in addition to your amortization?
- What Do I Want In a Home? When you’re dreaming of buying your first home, it’s fun to get lost in the fantasy of owning one with all the trappings your imagination can come up with. But when fantasy gets closer to becoming reality, you have to shift your mindset to “What I Want” to “What I Can Afford”. If you have a family, find out how many rooms, toilet and baths you need. There may be nicer suburbs but with pricier homes. You may have to compromise on the number of rooms. You should also consider your proximity from schools, the Central Business District or CBD, the commercial shopping centers and accessibility to public transportation. Draw up a list of what you want in your home and neighborhood. As you visit prospective homes and negotiate with more sellers, you should come up with a realistic view on the type of home you can afford.
- Where Do I See Myself in 5 Years? One of the greatest feelings is to wake up in the morning and realize this is the first of many days in your new home. It seems and feels like the beginning of a new chapter in your life. But in truth, change remains constant. Things could be different in 5 years. What would you be doing then? Will you have a new job in another city? Will your children be away for college? Will you have a new addition in the family? The answers to these questions will have bearing on your decision to own a house in the present day.
- Hire a Buyer’s Agent. Given the size of the investment and the process of owning a home, it would be a good idea to have a buyer’s agent on your side. A buyer’s agent is a real estate agent who represents the interests of the buyer. He or she has the experience and expertise to help you find a home that will meet your qualifications and budget. A buyer’s agent is a veteran of the negotiation process. When dealing with sellers and their agents, a buyer’s agent can tilt the negotiations in your favor. Once the contracts have been signed, final balance has been paid and procedures with the local government have been fulfilled, it is time to plan moving in to your new home. But there are 5 things you need to do once you’ve bought the house:
5 Things to Do After Buying a New House
- Pest Control. Many homes regularly have soil treatment and pest control scheduled every year. Find out the last time your new home underwent pest control. Ideally, you should have monthly pest control services. But if you have pets or if there are noticeably have more pests in the area, you should opt for bi-monthly services.
- Hire Professional Cleaning Services. Before you move in your things, have your new home cleaned by professionals. It is possible that the seller had the house cleaned before selling it but it is always better to be sure. If the home has carpets, these should be steam cleaned. If you want to bring in carpets and your upholstery is made of fabric, you should have these steam cleaned as well. Carpet and upholstery are breeding grounds for dust mites and other pests.
- Install Window Treatments. The first thing you should secure when you buy a new home is your privacy. Even before you open the boxes and unpack your things, make sure the living room and bedroom windows have curtains or blinds. You would not want the neighbors or passers-by have a fish-eye view of your home as you are unpacking. This is after all your home, not a fish bowl! Secure your privacy immediately especially the bedrooms.
- Make the Beds. Moving in will be one of the most tiring days of your life. You have to oversee the movers as they load up your things on the truck, check the inventory of items as these are brought in to the new house and direct the movement of furniture in their new location. At the end of the day, everyone will be exhausted. But for sure no one wants to sleep on the floor! So have your beds set up right away. If you have a head rest or wall padding have these installed along with the bed frames.
- Check Out the Nearby Town. Forget the boxes. You can open them and unpack later or the following day. Once you’ve got the curtains and beds set up, pack yourselves inside the car and head off to town! Check out the local market and be familiar with the establishments and available services. Immersing yourself in the culture and spirit of the town is one of the best ways to get settled. The feeling of home ownership is one that you would like to bottle up and cherish for all of eternity. You have shelter; a place to lie your weary head and start new memories. It is certainly one of the biggest milestones of your life.
Felix works with the Flint buyer’s agent. He often blogs about real estate and businesses.