Becoming a homebuyer is exciting. But now that it's happening, you'll need a few things to get you from buyer to owner. You may think you only need the stamina to unpack, but that's only the beginning.
1. A basic toolkit
You don't want to be sitting at home without a wrench when your sink is leaking. Or without a Phillips screwdriver when nothing in the house will accept a flathead.
Tools may seem like a boring thing to spend your money on, especially if money is tight after your down payment, closing costs, and moving costs, but spending a few bucks on a decent kit will save you the heartache of having to run out in the middle of the night to buy pliers.
Lowe's is a great place to look for pre-assembled toolkits if you don't want to buy individual pieces. They range up to several hundred dollars depending on how professional and comprehensive they are, but you can get away with spending as little as $20 or $30 for a basic toolkit.
Check out Houzz for their list of the 20 tools homeowners need.
2. A DIY spirit
You're going to be testing the limits of your DIY skills as a homeowner... a lot. Painting your walls, fixing a clogged drain, pulling up old floors, laying tile - they can all expand your skills, teach you new things, and provide a real sense of pride and accomplishment.
"Check out tutorials and how-to guides on sites like The Family Handyman and This Old House - good, reputable sources for home improvement information," said lifehacker. "Cross reference anything you find with multiple sources though, just to make sure you're getting good information."
Keep in mind that experts generally recommend you leave things like plumbing and electrical to the experts so you don't flood your home or electrocute yourself.
3. A Bissell SpotBot
The Bissell SpotBot is a deep-cleaning mini carpet cleaner and one of our favorite tools for getting spots out - everything from coffee spills to blood to pet stains (especially pet stains!). Better yet, it's the perfect lazy man's tool. All you do is put it on top of the stain, turn it on, and it does all the work for you.
4. Deep pockets
Things are going to break. Make sure you have a stash of cash for when that happens.
"The only thing worse than experiencing repair issues, is having no money to take care of the problem. Liz Weston of MSN.com asked several experts about budgeting for home repairs," said mortgage resource HSH. "The experts said you should expect to spend at least 1% of your home's value per year on maintenance and repair, and to plan for more if your home is older or has been poorly maintained. On a $300,000 house, that's $3,000 per year. Put $250 a month aside for these expenses and save yourself a lot of grief when a repair arises."
5. A home warranty, if one is available
A home warranty can help with those large expenses.
"Like all warranties, a home warranty is supposed to protect against expensive, unforeseen repair bills and provide peace of mind," said Investopedia. "For a homeowner who doesn't have an emergency fund or who wants to protect their emergency fund, a home warranty can act as a buffer. Home warranties also make sense for people who aren't handy or who don't want to worry about tracking down a contractor when they have a problem. Warranties can also make sense for people with expensive taste in appliances."
Keep in mind that a warranty won't cover everything, and is not only for brand-new residences; warranties may also be available for older homes.
6. An interest-free Home Depot card
You know what would look great in your kitchen? Granite countertops! Or new stainless steel appliances. One of the best things we ever did is get a credit card from Home Depot to spread out our payments and pay back the balance without interest, saving us the $5,000 one-time output. You can check out the specifics of what's included in the deal here; note that the interest-free deal is not offered all the time, and also that we prefer the Home Depot card over Lowe's similar card because Lowe's typically maxes out their interest-free payment period at 18 months, while Home Depot has 24-month terms.
7. On-time payments
Maintaining your credit is just as important after you buy as it is before. If you want that interest-free Home Depot card, you're going to need the credit to warrant it. Buying a new car or refinancing your mortgage will also depend on a good score. The great news is that your score should improve once your new mortgage is reported to the Credit Bureaus. Now it's up to you to keep it up!