You Bought Your First Home -> Now what?

I remember when I bought my first home back in 1985. I was elated to get out of the apartment experience, which in my case had to do with what I perceived as an overbearing Property Manager. Looking backward I wasn't completely innocent about some of his actions. My roommate, friends, and I were all in our early 20's and not the most quiet of tenants.

Moving into the new place, which I struggled to purchase using roommates to help path the mortgage the first few years, was an eye opening experience to someone who had spent most of their life living in a parent's home and a few years of apartment complex dwelling.

The home I purchased was in reasonably good shape. At that time it was only 11 years old, so hadn't seen too much wear except carpets and window coverings. What could go wrong?

In the first six months virtually every faucet developed an drip. A washer repair only lasted a couple months, so I ended up replacing all the faucets. Not too bad, using my own labor it probably cost a couple hundred 1985 dollars. If I had used a plumber it would have been much more.

Before the year was out the water heater bottom decided to rust out in the middle of the night. Due to a bit of strangeness in the home design my water heater was located in an upstairs closet with a drain pan and pipe down to the garage. Unfortunately the drain pipe was plugged, so I ended up with water starting to run down the stairs before I could get it turned off. Hot water! For this I did contact a plumber and the cost was near $1,000 if I remember correctly. I do remember that I made the mistake of not calling my home warranty provider first, which would have covered 90% of the replacement including the plumber's fees.

Like many first-time home buyers I was ill prepared both mentally and financially to deal with the maintenance of my largest asset. The first year was rough, but I sort of got the hang of it as time went by, but never exactly. When a big ticket item failed or was due for maintenance, like the roof, painting, or the refrigerator, I never seemed quite ready for the expense and usually resorted to the high interest credit card for the fix or repair.

Real estate agents sometimes have the tendency to quickly pass over the subject with buyers, as the conversation about these additional costs can be demotivating.

I recommend to my clients, especially first-time buyers, that they look at all the things they need to do over time to keep their new home in shape and things they want to do to improve it and create a budget so they can put aside money monthly for those rainy days.

There can be nothing more irritating than saving for the new patio and grill, then being stuck spending that money on a new roof and starting all over again.