Picture this! You have just finished signing the massive pile of paperwork to buy your first home. You can finally breath a sign of relief and you do so. Now, the fun part starts. You get to move and live in the home you have worked so hard to get. What do you do first? How do you handle things like utilities? What do you do about garbage? Do you buy new furniture? So many questions come to mind (or hopefully you have already been thinking about them), you are starting to feel overwhelmed again.
Lucky for you, you have this wonderful ultimate guide on buying your first home which includes a list of frequent questions to consider as a first time home buyer. We have even included questions to ponder after you get the house and move into it. There is so much to yet to do.
Be sure to check out the rest of the frequent questions to consider when you get done going over these questions and answers. Even better, let family and friends know about this list and then refer them to me. I will gladly give you a $50 gift card if one of your referrals closes on a home with me.
Here are some frequent questions to consider after buying your first home.
What utilities have to be turned on? How about garbage? – As a homeowner, you are responsible for turning on all the utilities. For electricity, you can do a search for electric providers and find one that fits your budget. Water will come from the city water department if your are within city limits while you will usually use Water Coop, or a water well, if you are rural. Internet and television providers choice depends heavily on where you live as well. Garbage is usually handled by the city or if you live in suburbs or rural areas, there might be contract with a waste management company to come get your trash. You can call your city to find out how garbage is handled. Once you get the trash bins, don’t forget to take them to the curb. They won’t come back if you forget to put them out.
Do I want to buy new furniture or stick with the stuff I have? – Good question. I have known clients who just used the furniture they already had and made it work. However, most people realize quickly that additional furniture might be warranted with more room. I had a friend in college who bought a house and all he had was a bed. We had to eat standing up whenever I went over to his place, because he never bought furniture. If your budget allows it, buy new furniture for the sake of your guests. They will appreciate you for it.
What do I do with all this stuff the sellers left behind? – Once you purchase the property, anything that remains in the house is yours to keep. If it is stuff you want or can sell for some money, all the more power to you. If it is a bunch of trash, you can have your agent call the listing agent to see if the sellers will come back to clean the property better. I had one that left so much stuff behind (including a trampoline) that my buyer had to call a private trash company to come haul it away. I tried to get the listing agent to have her seller do it, but her clients had already left for parts unknown so my client had to take care of it himself. It is always a hit and miss if the sellers will do the responsible thing and come get what they left behind.
What do I do if a repair done by the seller ends up being poorly done and breaks the first week living there? – If you find a seller’s repair that falls into disrepair soon after you move into the property, your agent should call the listing agent and ask for the seller to send someone out to redo the repair. Most sellers will fight this demand, but the contract stipulates that they have to make the repairs and if it was not done correctly, the sellers have a legal obligation to make it right. If you can’t get hold of the seller, call the vendor who did the work and ask for them to come back to fix it. Most vendors will honor their work for a limited time so this is always a way around an uncooperative seller. I would always try to get the sellers to do it first.
What happens if something else breaks? Who do I call? – You can’t call your landlord for help, because you own the property now. Hopefully, your agent included a Residential Services Warranty in your offer so you can just call your home warranty company to send out an expert to fix it. With these warranties, all you have to pay (has to be a covered repair) is the service charge. If you don’t have a home warranty, you can go online to find a reputable business, or you can ask family and friends for some suggestions. I had a couple who moved into their house and discovered the plumbing was not working as something happen between the time it was repaired and the time they moved into the house. Luckily, they were able to use their home warranty company to fix the issue. It saved them a ton of heartache.
What do I need to do to make sure I get my Homestead Exemption for property taxes? – When buying your first home, the Homestead Exemption is something you need to fill out right after you move into their property. This exemption will save you on your property taxes every year, which can be quite high here in Texas. You only have to file the exemption once and never pay someone to do it. You can download the form from your local Tax appraisal district website for free.
What does it mean to be part of a Homeowners Association (HOA)? – An HOA is an organization of homeowners who help to manage the community for the sake of keeping property values steady. Most people do not like HOAs because they have final say on how you can change your external appearance of your home. This is due to the HOA wanting to keep a level of conformity among the properties as lack of it in a community can drive down property values. If you do something against the rules (called CCRs), you will get a nicely worded letter from the HOA management company asking you to rectify the violation. Most people see HOAs as evil organizations just trying to make trouble for its residents. In realty, you are as a part of the HOA as the people running it. If you don’t like the way something is done, run for a board seat and move to change things.
Who do I call if hail damages my house? Or something happens? – When buying your first home, it can be traumatic to have a storm come through and damage your house. As a homeowner, you carry the risk burden for these events and are responsible for the cost of the damage. However, you will have a homeowners insurance policy to help with costs that are high. If you do have damage done to your property, either via a storm or some other way, call your homeowners insurance company to discuss what can be done. Most of the homeowner policies come with a high deductible so you have to weigh this fact as you decide whether to file a claim with the insurance company to fix the damage.
Am I allowed to change anything about the house? – Yes. However, as written above, if you belong to a HOA, you have to file a request with the HOA to get permission. Don’t worry. Most HOAs will allow changes as long as they are not outlandish that could eventually lead to a decrease in property values.
When do I make my first monthly mortgage payment? What else do I need to know about mortgages? – Most mortgage companies will take enough money from you at closing to cover your first month’s mortgage payment. It is a nice feeling to be able to skip that first month. However, don’t forget to pay the second month. With mortgages, part of your monthly payment goes towards an escrow that the mortgage company will use to pay for your property taxes as well as your homeowners insurance policy premium. After the first year in the property, make sure to ask the mortgage company to run an escrow audit. If the mortgage company finds that you have been paying too much into escrow, you will get a refund from them and they will readjust the monthly payment accordingly. It is a nice feeling to get a check in the mail from your mortgage company. It usually only happens after the first year so enjoy it while you can.
This concludes our series of frequent questions to consider by first time home owners. I hope you have found them useful. if for some reason, you still have an unanswered question, please contact us and we can get you answer within 24 hours. If you are just entering the market as a first time home buyer, I would love to help you find a house. Let’s chat.
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