Almost everyone wants to own their own home. Many people would argue that it is at the heart of the American dream even. No matter where the desire sprouts from, it will grow stronger throughout your life until the day that you ditch your apartment for your first home. It will be an exciting time. You’ll go to the bank, get a mortgage, go out with your real estate agent and look at homes, and you’ll eventually close on the proverbial ‘one’. You’ll pack up your apartment, move everything over, and just resume your life there . . . right? Well, it may not be as simple as that. When you move from an apartment, or even a rental home, your life changes. There will things that will butt their way into your life and take up more of your time than you’d like at any random time, so it is best to know beforehand what you are getting into.
The first thing that you will need to remember is that there is a space difference between most homes and most apartments. For the most part, a home will be significantly larger than any apartment, but that isn’t always the case-- especially with first time home buyers. It is important to remember that the identification as house does not mean that it will be something that is identified as an apartment. Most apartments are anywhere from 400 square feet to 1,000 or so (the more bedrooms the larger they get), and the average home in the Boise area is close to 1,500 square feet or so. Now, that is a good 1,100 to 500 square foot difference, but what if you are living in an apartment that measures in at 1,100 square feet and you can only get a mortgage for a homes that are smaller than that? (Yes, there are some houses that are smaller than 1,000 square feet). So just remember, your move might give you freedom, but it may not give you space.
Another point to remember about space is that if you move into a larger space, you will naturally accumulate more stuff to fill it. Most people don’t like their rooms to seem empty or bare, so, without even noticing, they will start buying or collecting more stuff until the space to stuff ratio is back to where they are used to. This is not true in every case, nor is it a reason to reevaluate your home buying process, but it is something to keep in mind for your wallet’s sake.
Cost of Living:
Speaking of wallets, it is vital that, before making the move from apartment to house, you know how much it will cost you-- not just in mortgage payments, but also in utilities. The mortgage payment is flexible, for the most part. Each month’s payment is determined by the kind of mortgage you get making it easy to figure out what you want to pay. The utilities, however, that is what usually hurts people when they move. When you lived in an apartment, you probably only had to pay for power, gas, and internet and the rest was provided for you. Well, there are no such deals when you live in a house. Water, sewage, trash, cable, internet, gas, power, they are all part of your budget now. They will cost different depending on where you live, but they will be present nonetheless.
Much like utilities, appliances need to be taken into account. When you moved into an apartment it probably had a fridge at the very least; there were some with more like a dishwasher and an oven and what not, but that is in the past. When you buy a home, it is highly unlikely that there will be appliances that come with it. Usually, you can expect there to be an oven and maybe a dishwasher, but all the other appliances like the washer and dryer, the fridge, and microwave are hit and miss. Sometimes you can work it out with the previous owner that you buy the appliances from them as part of the sale of the home, but you shouldn’t count on that. When you are picking out new appliances, pay close attention to their ratings on consumer reports-- especially when it comes to energy consumption. An appliance may be great at its job but if it costs an arm and a leg to run the thing it’s not worth it. There are appliances out there that are energy efficient. For example, Energy Star endorsed products. If an appliance is certified by Energy Star it means that it has gone through rigorous tests to prove that it is as energy efficient as possible. These are great products and will do wonders for your budget. They may cost more upfront, but they will be worth it in the long run.
Mortgage Payments Vs. Monthly Rent:
The average rent payment in the Boise area is approximately $950 a month. That is quite a lot of cash, and at the end of the month, you still don’t own anything which is the principle difference between a mortgage and a rent payment. Most mortgages have flexible payment plans and will most likely be a little more than a typical rent payment, but the upside is that you will own a little more on your home. You just need to remember that the payments may be a bit higher than you are used to at an apartment. Especially considering there is interest and mortgage insurance that you might have to pay as well.
Neighbors and Homeowner’s Associations:
Neighbors in a neighborhood are different from the people that live down the hall from you at your apartment. They are rooted in their homes, it is where they live and play and they will usually plan to be there longer than a person in an apartment will. That being said, if you have neighbors that rub you the wrong way, you might be stuck with them for a while. You will also have to start dealing with a homeowner’s association. These can be very beneficial to a community or very detrimental it just depends on the people making the rules. Usually, you won’t if they are a bad homeowner’s association until you move in, but you can actually check out the HOA before you move to help guide your decision. Ask your real estate agent for help researching the HOAs in certain areas.
Unfortunately, even your dream home is no match for the relentless powers of entropy. It will break down and it will need fixing, but if you stay up-to-date on your home maintenance it will minimize the damage of these repair worthy events. Try to fix things as the break and upgrade as they need to be; you can’t rely on the landlord to fix things for you, it is your job now. Granted, you can pay someone to do the repairs, which you should always default to if the job is too large or out of your comfort zone, however, they need to be done. If you let damages or needed upgrades sit for too long it can hurt the home and lessen its value-- not to mention be dangerous for you.
One of the great things about having your own home is that you will most likely, depending on where you live, not have to pay for parking. Most homes will have street space or even a driveway for residents to park in which allows you to park your vehicles without a worry. This can be problematic however since you will need to do your own snow removal. You also may have a limit as to how many cars you can keep outside your house which differs depending on the HOA.
One of the many perks of living in an apartment or any other multi-unit dwelling is the lack of lawn to take care of. The landscaping at an apartment complex is usually dealt with by professionals so that residents don’t have to worry about it. This, however, is not something that comes with every home; there are some neighborhoods around the valley that offer lawn care, snow removal, and leaf raking as part of the homeowner’s association dues, but they are few and far between. There are plenty of companies that you can hire to take care of your lawn if you don’t want to do it, but you will have to set it all up and pay for it yourself.
There are benefits to a yard though, despite the mowing, pruning, and weeding that plagues our days off. Yards provide a place for you to enjoy the fresh air in private. It allows you to have a pool or a hot tub or a trampoline or a garden and enjoy them privately. It protects your things from the public.
In the past, if you had a pest problem, you would call the landlord and they would come fix it (hopefully). But now, with the responsibility for the upkeep of your home on your shoulders, you will be responsible for it. Again, you can, and probably should, hire a professional to come and lay down traps, barriers or anything else you may need. The great thing about having your own home, though is that you can schedule the pest professionals whenever you need them; you can also customize what they do when it comes to what kinds of pests they spray and lay traps for, which can be much more efficient for a home than a generic dose of pest protection.
Protecting Your Home:
Lastly, there is protecting your home. Homes are said to be targeted more often than apartments for burglary and robbery for any number of reasons. So, it is important that you invest in a home security system (professional or amateur) as well as always remember to lock your doors and windows. But that isn’t the only thing that you have to protect your home from.
Fires, floods, and other natural disasters are real problems for homeowners and protecting your homes from them is immensely important. The first step is to make sure that your house is up to code. If the wiring is faulty, the furnace is out of date, or your waterlines are disintegrating, then your home will be at a higher risk of succumbing to calamities. Next you will want to have working smoke and carbon monoxide sensors in every room and hallway of your house. This will alert you to any fire within a few moments so you can put it out before it does too much damage. Lastly, it is important to purchase an effective insurance plan. Make sure that it covers the most likely disasters that could happen to your home, but don’t be excessive.
There are a lot more things to know before you make the transition from renting an apartment to buying a home, but these are a good place to start. It is best to talk to a licensed real estate agent like those at the Hughes Group. Their extensive knowledge and training helps them help you make the transition between living spaces as easy as possible. Contact the Hughes Group today!