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5 First-Year Mistakes New Owners Make

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Have a client who's a first-time homeowner? Pass these tips on from NAR and HouseLogic.

Homeowners can make a lot of mistakes during that first year in homeownership, especially when eagerness can sometimes lead to ignorance. HouseLogic recently featured several of the most common and costly missteps homeowners most often make in their first year, including:

1. Always going with the lowest bid.

Homeowners may be smart about gathering multiple bids when, say, that HVAC system needs repairs. But they may be tempted to always go with the lowest price. HouseLogic recommends ensuring that all bids include the same project scope. At times, one bid may be less expensive but may not include all of the actual cost or details of the project, or the contractor may lack the experience to do a good job.

2. Submitting small insurance claims.

Owners shouldn’t be in a rush to submit an insurance claim every single time something goes wrong. Filing a claim or two, particularly over a short time, can prompt an increase to your premium. Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, says it’s better to pay out of pocket than to submit claims that are less than your deductible. “You want the cleanest record possible,” Bach says. “You want to be seen as the lowest risk. It’s like a driving record—the more tickets you have, the more your insurance.”

3. Failing to consider the ROI of home remodeling improvements.

Homeowners shouldn’t believe that just because they see the value in an upgrade, they will get an added market value for it when they go to sell. Owners can over-upgrade their home. “It’s easy to build yourself out of your neighborhood” and invest more than you can make at resale, says Linda Sowell, a real estate professional in Memphis, Tenn. Homeowners should check with a real estate professional or appraiser before they start a project to learn whether the improvement will help boost their property value.

4. Tossing receipts and paperwork.

Homeowners need to be good record-keepers. HouseLogic recommends keeping home improvement receipts, contracts, and manuals in a three-ring binder with clear plastic sleeves. Or they can photograph documents and and store them on a computer or in the cloud.

5. Ignoring seemingly minor items on an inspection report.

An inspection report can make a great first to-do list once moving in, HouseLogic says. Seemingly minor issues, like loose gutters or uninsulated pipes, may eventually cause bigger damage if not repaired soon. New owners should consult a contractor and make an informed decision about what needs to be fixed right away and what can wait.

This post appeared on the NAR blog. View the full list of missteps at HouseLogic.com.

 

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