Closing the purchase of a new home is a feeling unlike any other. Unfortunately, many people new to homeownership may not know how just much maintenance a property requires. Regular maintenance is an integral part of retaining your new property’s value and ensuring you don’t have to deal with costly repairs later on.
As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To this end, we asked 12 experts from Forbes Real Estate Council to provide tips to help new homeowners protect their life-changing new investment.
1. Complete a thorough inspection prior to purchase.
The best defense against costly repairs is being proactive before you buy your home. Make sure to complete a full inspection that will uncover any expensive issues lurking around the corner. It’s important to confirm the remaining years of use for all the primary systems, the structure and the roof. With this information, you can budget properly and minimize surprises. – Joanna Schwartz, Quartz Properties
2. Don’t wait until it’s time to sell to schedule an inspection.
I advise my clients to get a home inspection every few years. Too often, homeowners wait until they’re about to sell their home or the escrow process to have a professional take an in-depth look at their home. By then, a newly discovered issue could be very costly. Hiring someone with a trained eye who knows what to look for is a good way to stay on top of routine maintenance and repairs. – Brad Le, Compass
3. Trim back surrounding trees.
It may be one of the less glamorous tasks on the list of to-do’s when a buyer first moves in, but trimming back any tree branches that touch the house or roof will keep pest and rodent infestations away. – Beatrice de Jong, Opendoor
4. Start with the HVAC filters.
It’s hard to suggest only one task, as there are a few important ones, but one thing first-time homebuyers should definitely do is replace the HVAC filters, then clean the gutters and do some boiler maintenance. These should be done twice a year. Then there are the big three: plumbing, heating and electrical. These are very important to every property owner—especially first-time homebuyers—and could become costly if not maintained properly. – Valon Nikci, Link NY Realty
5. Don’t defer comprehensive maintenance.
Deferred maintenance can catch up to any homeowner. Monitor wood that may be rotting, sign up for programs to have your air conditioning checked twice a year, and don’t forget about pest control. Keeping an eye on your roof, plumbing, AC, electrical and drainage will benefit you when it’s time to sell your home. – Anna Morrison Lee, Anna Morrison Lee, Broker Associate, Moreland Properties
6. Keep an eye on plumbing and drains.
One very easy maintenance item homeowners should keep on top of is the plumbing and drains in their homes. Roots, deposit build-up, etc. can create problems at the most inopportune times. Look into a maintenance plan with a well-established plumbing and drain company. You will thank yourself. – Michael J. Polk, Polk Properties / Matrix Properties
7. Stay on top of your roof.
Ongoing repairs and maintenance are part of life’s rich tapestry when owning a home. As someone who has managed commercial and residential real estate, one area has always stood out: Be watertight! Keep an eye on the roof and drainage. These are the first lines of defense in protecting the external membrane, and if this seal is penetrated, the real problems begin. Literally, stay on top of your roof! – Damien Moore, Haüskey Inc.
8. Regularly caulk leak-prone edges.
Homeowners should constantly caulk edges around the home that are prone to leakage of air and water. Such home components include edges of windows, doors, bathtubs, bathroom sinks, kitchen sinks, countertops and the like. Damaged caulking may lead to leaking of air and water, causing mildew, mold and other structural issues. This may lead not only to expensive repairs but also to health issues. – Amit Inamdar, Own Sweet Home Realty
9. Get rid of the dust.
It doesn’t matter where you live—dust is ubiquitous. Dust buildup typically happens in places we don’t regularly check and can dramatically shorten the lifespan of refrigerators, washers, dryers, HVAC systems and other major appliances. Committing to regular dust removal and filter replacement will keep you healthy, reduce fire risk and save money over the long term. – Gary Beasley, Roofstock
10. Drain and flush your water heater.
One thing all homeowners should do is drain and flush the water heater once a year. This extends the water heater’s useful life by preventing sediment build-up that could clog your heater and cause other problems down the road. – Jason Hsiao, Shaw Investments
11. Invest in a home warranty policy.
To mitigate risk, purchase and renew your home warranty policy. I recommend that all buyers get this, and you can often request that the seller pays for the first year in your offer. After year one, it’s just a nominal fee to keep it active and it’s worth it for peace of mind if you don’t have significant savings for repairs or if it’s an older home. Nowadays new homes usually come with some warranties. – Catherine Kuo, Elite Homes | Christie’s International Real Estate
12. Set up reminders for regular maintenance.
Make sure to set up reminders for regular maintenance around the house. This includes changing AC filters and having the unit serviced regularly, checking smoke detectors, checking the water softener salt levels, and walking the property to check for signs of rotted wood or leaks around the roof and siding. Addressing repairs early on will save money in the long run. – Melissa Johnson, We Buy Houses San Antonio, TX