Things to Remember as a New Homeowner

Home ownership involves responsibilities.
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Being a new homeowner comes with a number of responsibilities, financial and otherwise. Expenses, regular maintenance and taxes are all factors to consider. If you are excited about buying a home, keep in mind that closing is just the start of what you have to do as a homeowner. While home ownership involves recurring costs besides your monthly mortgage payment, owning your own home offers several financial incentives as well.

Buying Homeowners’ Insurance

When you buy a home, your mortgage lender will require that you purchase a homeowners’ insurance policy to cover losses caused by fire, wind damage, theft or vandalism. While a standard policy will help pay to repair or replace your home, furnishings and personal items following a major loss, basic coverage excludes damages and loss due to natural disasters. If you live in an area at high risk from flooding, earthquakes or fire, you may need to purchase more than basic coverage. A homeowners’ policy should also include liability insurance, which protects you in the event that someone sues you because of injury or property damage. One way to lower your homeowners’ insurance premium is by raising your deductible. You may qualify for additional insurance premium discounts if no one living in the home smokes or your home is equipped with fire detection or security alarms.

Taking Tax Deductions

Purchasing a home is a major investment. However, tax benefits help offset the cost. The federal government makes several tax breaks available to homeowners, although you must itemize deductions to take advantage of these tax deductible benefits. When you first buy a home, a significant portion of your mortgage payment goes toward interest, which you can deduct on your taxes. The points you paid to the borrower to get your home mortgage are also deductible. Local and state property taxes are deductible as are the premiums you pay for private mortgage insurance.

Looking for Energy Savings

If you want to cut energy costs, replacing older appliances with new energy-efficient models can save you money. Start by purchasing an appliance such as a water heater that saves both energy and money. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that a water heater accounts for between 14 and 25 percent of the total energy you use in your home, making the investment in a new energy-efficient water heater well worth the cost. Choose appliance products that carry the Energy Star label for meeting government requirements for energy efficiency. Installing programmable thermostats to regulate your home’s heating and cooling systems can save you home energy dollars as well.

Doing Regular Maintenance

Performing routine house maintenance helps keep your home in good condition and can prevent more serious problems from occurring. Regularly inspecting home appliances and heating, electrical and plumbing systems to spot small repair jobs early on can save you big money in the end. Neglecting minor problems can turn costly whereas taking simple and inexpensive measures can save you stress and money later on. Routine home maintenance tasks should include examining your home’s foundation for cracks; vacuuming heating ducts; testing fire, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; checking plumbing for leaking pipes and inspecting wood for signs of termite or other insect damage. While you should perform these tasks monthly, other routine tasks to do on an as-needed basis include cleaning blocked rain gutters, replacing furnace filters and repairing caulk around door and window frames to prevent moisture from entering your home.

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