The Quick and Easy Homeowner Guide

Besides helping people avoid foreclosure and keep their homes, we also help new homeowners through our first-time home buyer education. One crucial part of this education is learning to be a good homeowner.

We always include a quick homeowner guide to safety. Safety and security takes on many different dimensions when one owns a home:

  1. Get good insurance. This is simply essential; you want to protect your home and everyone in it, but you have to protect yourself financially in the event something terrible happens. All the preparation in the world is not enough when a serious natural disaster strikes.
  2. Speaking of natural disasters, have an emergency plan. Know the safest place for your family in the house if there is a tornado or earthquake, and have planned quick exits in case there is a fire. Have emergency supplies ready, and make sure everyone in your family knows where they are and how to use them. Also plan with them where to meet if something serious drives you out of your home.
  3. Protecting your kids is a key priority, since they can’t be expected to do it on their own. Make sure your outlets, stairs and landings, and major appliances are safe and “kid-proofed.” Don’t have the water heater set so high that a child can be scalded by your home’s hot water.
  4. Safety equipment that your home should have includes fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and gas detectors for things like carbon monoxide and explosive gas leaks. Also make sure your home passes its safety inspection, when it comes to your electrical systems.
  5. Speaking of safety inspections, get your house tested for radon, mold, asbestos, lead paint, termites, basement leaks, and foundation problems. Damp conditions can lead to health problems for you and your family, so keep an eye on your washing machine, water heater, sump pumps, or any other appliance that could spring a leak.
  6. Do regular maintenance on your appliances, including your furnace and air conditioner, washer and dryer, fireplace, septic system, etc. Set a schedule to clean your dryer’s lint filter, chimney, and replace air filters regularly.
  7. And speaking of maintenance, have the necessary tools and documents to take care of your home. Save your user’s manuals for all of your appliances and mechanical systems, and make sure you have a basic toolbox with a standard toolkit (crescent wrench, hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, tape measure, safety glasses, work gloves, socket set, and a level).
  8. Save for emergencies. Insurance alone won’t cut it. You must create an emergency savings fund and set aside money toward it regularly. If unexpected home repairs are needed, the last thing you want to do is sink yourself into debt to resolve the situation. Have a savings fund ready for the inevitable.

Being a homeowner isn’t always easy, but it can be very rewarding, particularly when you make that last mortgage payment and take full ownership of your home. If you need help protecting your most important asset, call us for a free session with a HUD-approved consultant.