The top 5 things I didn’t know before I owned my home

Each month we ask one of our Realtors to write an article for our blog and newsletter. This month you’re hearing from Aryn Moreton, our Director of Operations. She works with our Realtors on the administrative side of the business. She purchased her Hamilton home with the help of her parents in 2015.

I had rented a few different rooms and apartments after moving out of my parents house when I was eighteen years old for university. Renting is a different experience than ownership. First of all, I wasn’t responsible for any of the maintenance outside of my unit and I also wasn’t aware of all the things that are necessary to keep an eye on. This is my list of the top 5 things I didn’t know before I owned my home. I’m saving the most important for number 5.

  1. Maintenance: Home maintenance is very important. There are lots of maintenance checklists you can find online that break the maintenance schedule into seasons. The obvious home maintenance tasks include cleaning your gutters, changing the batteries in your smoke detectors, cleaning your yard and things like that. The one maintenance task that I didn’t know about before owning a home is to change your furnace filter regularly.
  2. Condition: We worked with a Realtor to buy our home and we knew when we bought it that the roof needed to be replaced right away. Thankfully our Realtor was able to negotiate the price we paid for our home taking into consideration we would need to spend a few dollars (more like $6000) on our roof. The other things we replaced right away were the doors and windows. The doors and windows could have held on a little longer but they helped with the energy efficiency of the home and have helped lower our bills. Make sure to take note of the condition of the bigger items you may need to replace before you purchase your home. 
  3. Tree roots: This one was a surprise for us, we have a few very large trees in our front yard and for the first three years of living in this home the roots were a big problem. We didn’t know that tree roots could grow into your pipes and contribute to clogs. We had to have the pipes cleared twice a year to remove new tree root growth. Finally we decided to do some research and learned that the city offered a program to line the pipe from the street to the house, once we lined the pipe we didn’t have any further issues. We even worked with city programs to alleviate the cost. 
  4. Clutter: Maybe you’ve mastered living like a minimalist but I have not. I’ve learned that no matter how much free space the home has, it will become filled with clutter. In the first month of owning the home, my mother moved all of the random things she had been keeping in her basement for the last 25 years that belonged to me into my house. We have a son that started with a fairly empty room but the first Christmas we celebrated in the home filled that room very quickly with toys and stuffed animals galore! The best tip I have for clutter is to employ the Marie Kondo method and decide if it “sparks joy”. Okay, not really. I try to look at the clutter and decide if it’s still useful or if it’s something I have used in the past year, if not, maybe we don’t need to keep it. It also helps to think of the things the space could be used for if not for the clutter. We have made great use of donation places and regularly donate clothes and toys. We also put a dumpster in our driveway every 2 years and toss out any of the materials we cannot donate. This has helped substantially with clutter.
  5. Equity: This changed my life. The opportunity to own my home meant that I was able to build equity in that home and use the equity to pay off my entire student loan debt. Without the equity in the home, I would likely have been paying my student loans for many many more years to come. We were also able to use the equity to make some improvements to the backyard including fulfilling my dream of having a hot tub and because we had accumulated so much equity and only took out a portion of it, our monthly mortgage payments only increased by about $100/ month. 

We’ve been in our home for 7 years and we’ve replaced, fixed and renovated quite a bit! The last thing I didn’t know was that you will always be working on the house. There will always be weekend projects and things you’ll want to change and that’s great! That is one of the best parts of owning your home, it’s yours to do with and decorate how you choose. If you’re looking for your first home, please give us a call and we’ll make sure you’re well prepared for all the things I didn’t know. 

-Aryn Moreton