Maximum Impact: Tips for Successful Homeownership as a Single
By Laura Firszt
News flash: Singles make up approximately one third of home buyers these days (21 percent single women and 10 percent single men). Whether they're young or not-so-young never-married professionals, divorcees, widows, or just plain free spirits, today's singles are ready and willing to take the leap and purchase solo. Here are a few tips to help make the homeownership experience a success.
Get to know your neighbors. If the folks next door rush over with coffee and a batch of fresh muffins as soon as your moving van pulls away, great. They may be more reserved, though, leaving it up to you to make the first move. Invite them in or simply say a warm hello when you pass on the street. Besides creating a pleasant atmosphere in your new 'hood, befriending the neighbors can be a very practical move. You'll be able to look out for each other when one of you needs help.
Keep your property presentable. Even if you're working 14 hours a day to pay for your new house, and come home only to sleep, make sure your yard is neatly landscaped. You'll be showing that you care about your home and your community, and you'll thereby do your bit to raise local property values. Besides, your homeowners' association rules may demand it.
Just say "no" to would-be intruders. There'll be nobody home chez vous much of the time, and smart crooks may find this out. Take precautions to keep your home safe. Change the locks on front and back entrances, preferably to deadbolts. Even if the former owners were the most honest people imaginable -- or they've moved to the other side of the globe -- you never know who else might have a key. Have sliding doors leading to a patio? Make sure that sliders are equipped with a secure lock-over mechanism; this means the doors can't be lifted from their frame to provide access. Trim any foliage that blocks the view of your house.
Maintain your home. Whether on a super sophisticated Excel sheet or a paper wall chart, make up a schedule of all the routine tasks that will ensure your home stays in great shape. Starting today, check the HVAC filters (and change them if needed), vents, range hood filters, gutters, and the like. Your local government may provide a handy maintenance checklist for the town where you live.
Save energy. Consider having an energy audit done to pinpoint areas of inefficiency. Install a programmable thermostat that will conserve energy while you're away, yet ensure that your house is at a comfortable, welcoming temperature by the time you arrive home. Use an advanced power strip to make sure your electronics are completely turned off and not drawing phantom energy when you leave the premises or fall asleep.
Stay safe. Have your new residence tested for the presence of radon gas and remediate as necessary. Install smoke detectors and CO monitors. Make sure that they are always equipped with working batteries. (A popular memory jogger is to change the batteries at the same time as you switch the clocks to daylight saving or standard time.) After all, if you don't look out for your wellbeing, who will?
Find a go-to guy. Even if you are good at DIY, you may not always have the time or the inclination to take care of all the little fix-it jobs that come along with owning your own home. Look for a skilled and reliable handyman in your area to be your go-to guy. You might want to make up "honey-do" lists on a regular basis, so that he can come in and tackle them all in one shot, perhaps once every month or so.
Celebrate your space. Take time out to add some very personal touches to your new pad. Paint an accent wall, hang pictures, invest in a few easy-care potted plants … do whatever it takes to make your house feel like home, the place you love to come back to. And above all, enjoy!
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.
NeighborWorks® Columbus’, a community-based 501c (3) nonprofit organization, mission is to provide access to fit and affordable housing and build assets for financial independence for all citizens of low to moderate income.
NeighborWorks® Columbus’ vision and deep commitment remains to improve the quality of life through the elimination of substandard housing and the revitalization of target neighborhoods. For more information about NeighborWorks® Columbus and its services, visit www.nwcolumbus.org.