Mindy Sylvester Is Your Blue Heron Real Estate Expert
So you’re finally a homeowner – congratulations! This is an important step in anyone’s life, and it’s absolutely normal to feel somewhat (or wildly) unprepared for the realities of owning a place of your own. What if there’s an emergency, or what if something breaks? Do you know what to do?
Here’s the good news: Like so many things in life, it’s not what you know; it’s who you know. Some homeowners take years to get all of these names and numbers in their mental address books or their smartphones, but if you start trying to find these essential people in your homeowners’ network early, then you’ll have an easier time handling any problems.
1. An insurance agent
If you have a mortgage loan on your home, then you’re going to need homeowners’ insurance, which protects the asset being backed — otherwise known as “your house” — from risk. And to get the best deals on insurance and make sure you’re fully covered for everything that needs to be addressed, you’ll probably need to talk to an insurance agent about your options.
Most home insurance policies cover things like fire, for example, but they don’t automatically include coverage for other adverse events like a flood or an earthquake. Do you really need earthquake insurance? Well, your insurance agent can tell you!
You may also be eligible for discounts on other insurance policies when you become a homeowner, like your car insurance. In addition, you may want to increase your coverage for policies like car insurance; now that you’re a homeowner, you have a big asset that could become part of a claim if you get into a bad car accident, you’re at fault, and your insurance doesn’t fully cover the other party’s damages or injuries.
A good insurance agent can make sure you’re covered from all angles so that you can get on with the business of living your life.
2. A cleaner
Maybe you’re the type who really likes to clean — you find it relaxing or rewarding. Even so, you’ll still want to think about finding a cleaner who’s worth the cost in case you’re ever in a bind, such as if a health issue prevents you from cleaning and the mess is driving you bananas, or if you’ve got to leave town for an extended period of time and are thinking about turning your house into a vacation rental while you’re away.
“Worth the cost” can be a relative term! Try to find someone who has references so you can get a good idea of how thorough their cleaning is and how flexible they are with times. A really detail-oriented cleaner might charge more and have fewer time slots available every week or month, but like anything else, you get what you pay for, and it’s probably better to find someone who really knows how to deep clean instead of hiring a relatively cheap cleaner who isn’t actually going to evict all the dust bunnies.
3. A general contractor
As a homeowner, there are always going to be little things that need attention here and there, possibly as soon as you move in.
Chipped crown molding, holes in walls, broken windows, or doors that creak — whatever your issue, living with it might be fine for as long as you can stand it, but at some point, you’ll want your house to look as nice as it possibly can, even if that only happens right before you get ready to sell it.
Maybe you want to do some renovations or even add a room, a shed, a garage, a deck … if that’s the case, it’s even more important to find a reliable general contractor.
A reliable general contractor is one that shows up on time and who can accurately quote a project so that you can budget for it. Reliable contractors can explain timelines, the cost of different materials, offer options, and get the job done on time (or within a reasonable window).
4. A roofer
Depending on the type of shingles on your roof, you may not need to get them replaced at all while you live in the house, but you can bet that any buyers are going to ask when the roof was last replaced. Composition shingles usually last more than a decade but less than 20 years, wood shingles last somewhere between 20 and 25 years, and asphalt shingles can last anywhere from 15 to 30 years.
If you’re not sure how much longer your roof has, then talking to a roofer and making any necessary repairs before they’re needed — so a leaking roof doesn’t damage your house — is a good move.
5. A real estate agent
Of course, you aren’t ready to sell your house as soon as you move in — but keeping in touch with a local real estate agent is still a good plan.
Your agent is often the first to know not only who’s buying (and moving in) and who’s selling (and moving out), but also whether there are any new developments planned nearby, where the best restaurants and home improvement stores are located, if there’s a new hiking or biking trail planned, and much more.
When you are ready to sell, your real estate agent can help you decide what needs to be changed or fixed to make your home one of the most enticing in the neighborhood, can give you a good idea of when would be the best time of year to put your house on the market, how to price the place, and hold your hand from beginning to end. That’ll be easier to do if you’ve maintained a relationship with the same agent over time instead of scrambling to find one only when you’re trying to sell.
Plus, like your neighbors, a real estate agent can often help you fill in any gaps that are missing in your own personal homeowner network of helpers.