You’ve watched hours of home improvement television, you’ve scoured countless articles on real estate blogs, and you’ve received a lot of well-meaning advice from friends and family. So, you’re pretty sure you’ve got this homeownership thing in the bag.
But remember, while there is some great information out there, there are also a lot of myths. Just in case you’ve received some misinformation, let’s debunk some common homeowner misconceptions and set the record straight.
I Have the Time/Money/Skills to Handle That
REALTOR® Aaron Fox, broker/owner with Century 21 Looking Glass, hears one of the biggest myths during the homebuying process and says it often carries throughout homeownership.
“I see a lot of buyers and homeowners biting off more than they can chew,” he said. “During the inspection process it’s common to hear buyers say, ‘I can do that,’ or ‘I know a guy who can fix that.’ But, it’s important to be realistic about what you can take on, and you need to maintain that self-awareness throughout your time as a homeowner.”
Many homeowners think they can save money by handling renovations and repairs themselves. But, be cautious when going DIY. Depending on the project — and your skills — it can sometimes be more costly. With every project, ask yourself this important question: do you have the knowledge, skills, and tools to handle the task correctly?
Painting, pulling up carpeting, stripping wallpaper, or installing new cabinet hardware may be jobs you can handle, but others, like electrical work, can be dangerous when done by amateurs.
“And, when you do need help, make sure you hire reputable professionals,” said Fox. “Do your research on contractors, follow up on references, and don’t assume the cheapest price will necessarily give you the best – or worst – results.”
I’m Going DIY…I Don’t Need a Permit
While we’re on the subject of DIY, another common homeowner myth is that handling renovations yourself means you don’t need a permit. But this is definitely not the case. For many projects, having a permit from the local municipality is crucial.
Most contractors will know which jobs require a permit, but it’s good for homeowners to also be aware and do their own due diligence. Fence installation, footprint changes, structural work, new windows or siding, and plumbing or electrical work are some of the jobs that will likely require a permit. While simpler projects like painting or wallpaper, installing hardwoods or carpeting, replacing faucets, installing new countertops, and some minor electrical repairs likely won’t.
“Having the right permits is important in protecting your home’s value,” said Fox. “You don’t want to cut corners in this area because it can impact the safety of your home, negatively affect a future sale, and potentially cost a lot of extra money if you’re forced to redo work that was not done up to code.”
I Don’t Need to Sweat the Small Stuff
Sure, the master bath toilet runs constantly, and the kitchen faucet has a slow drip, but it’s no big deal, right? Well, the reality is that small problems tend to turn into bigger issues over time. Not to mention that your running toilet and leaky faucet can waste a lot of water and lead to higher utility bills.
A cracked or rotting board on your deck, peeling caulk around your windows, clogged gutters, etc.…these small fixes and home maintenance tasks may get pushed down your “to-do” list, but if left alone they can turn into much costlier and more extensive repairs. Be sure to keep up on routine home maintenance and when you see “small” things around the house, address them as soon as you can. It will likely be a lot easier (and cheaper) today than a year from now.
The More Money I Put In, the More I’ll Get Back
Can a house be too nice? The answer is, actually, yes! A common homeowner misconception is the more upgrades a home has, the higher the value. However, homeowners need to be careful when they plan improvements, renovations, or additions. When it comes time to sell, know that you’ll rarely get a dollar-for-dollar return, no matter the improvement.
“If you’re renovating because you plan on staying for several years and want to enjoy the upgrades, that’s one thing,” said Fox. “But, if your sole purpose is to get money back at resale, you need to be critical in your decisions.”
Remember, you don’t need to list your home to get guidance from the real estate pros. If you’re wondering where your current value stands, and possibly looking for ways to improve that value, reach out to your REALTOR®, or have an appraisal performed by a local professional.
I Have a Home Warranty, So Everything is Covered
While purchasing a home warranty is relatively inexpensive and can offer new homeowners some much needed peace of mind, it doesn’t mean you’ll never have to spend money on home repairs. Keep in mind, some problems won’t be covered by your warranty, whether it’s because the item was not included in the contract or because the component or system was not properly maintained.
When people are disappointed with their home warranty, it’s usually because there was a perception that certain items would be covered. On the other hand, many homeowners spend money they don’t need to because they don’t know the details of their contract. To avoid any problems, review your warranty contract thoroughly, read the terms and conditions, and know the stipulations.
For more homeowner tips, follow the Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® on Facebook and check out the blog at www.lansing-realestate.com.
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