Home ownership is a privilege. It is also a responsibility.

When working with Buyers, especially young, first time Buyers, this is an important message to convey.  Obviously, I am a huge proponent of owning real estate. It is a great way to build wealth, net worth, and financial freedom and it is a solid investment that has proven its benefit over history.

However. It’s not a responsibility to take lightly, and comes with some risk that is impossible to entirely mitigate. No matter how hard you may try… homes – and any structure – require maintenance, upkeep, and care.  Sometimes, they bring about surprises that can be costly, messy, and stressful to fix, repair or remediate.  Homes require an ongoing investment of time, energy, and financial resources. Components WILL wear out, WILL need to be updated, and WILL cost money over time.  Some of these items may be expected…. Such as an old furnace beyond its life expectancy or worn roof shingles that are in need of replacement.  Other times, well… problems may arise that a homeowner wasn’t counting on, or couldn’t control despite anyone’s best efforts.  The responsibility of home ownership includes an awareness and acceptance that there may be a few curveballs to deal with along the way.

I’ve been a homeowner for almost 20 years, and have learned this lesson a few times.  As long as I continue to be a home owner, I expect this will be a lesson to relearn over and over again. And I can attest… it doesn’t necessarily get easier or less stressful as time goes on. From leaking water heaters, to cracked foundations to plumbing issues, and many things in between – there are countless issues I can think of that an average homeowner may be caught off guard by as they navigate a fix and groan through a repair.

Most recently, I gathered some unsolicited experience with a new issue that could not have been foreseen.  Somehow, a colony of honey bees found their way under our recently updated siding (read: NOT old, NOT worn, NOT neglected, NOT due for replacement or maintenance!) and began building their hive.  This is a situation that I’ve stumbled across at listings I’ve shown to buyers along the way, but certainly was not something that I expected to deal with personally.  Now working through next steps with a professional bee keeper (who, ironically, is also a realtor that I met in person just last week!), we will be forced to dismantle a portion of our home (hopefully from the exterior), remove the bees, their Queen, and their honey), and then put our newly renovated house back together again.  The whole thing makes me sick to my stomach, to be completely honest… but is entirely out of my control, and happened despite our best efforts to maintain our home well.  It is simply ‘one of those things’ that we now need to address.  I’m happy to have a calm and collected spouse to offset my fretting, and am coming to terms with the fact that this is an issue beyond our best planning, and simply one of those ‘curveballs’ that we need to accept, address, and tackle head on.  Home ownership at its best…

So. The point of this rant is to remind you that taking on the responsibility of home ownership means taking on a few surprises along the way too.  If you’re signing up for a mortgage, you best also prepare yourself for some unexpected projects that may come along with your home – whether you’re ready for them or not!

Before I entirely traumatize the first time buyers out there, here are a few tips to help prepare you to deal with some unexpected curveballs that home ownership may present:

  • Secure an ‘emergency fund’ to cover unexpected repairs along the way
  • Regularly inspect your home to identify any issues that require attention before a problem worsens. This is especially important as the seasons change.
  • Review your insurance policy to ascertain that your coverage is adequate for big issues that could arise beyond your control
  • Remain mindful of the typical life expectancy of components within your home (ie. Furnace, air conditioner, shingles, water heater, windows, appliances), and be proactive to replace and update rather than reactive when they break down unexpectedly.

Now… to leave you with a positive thought. There are plenty of perks to home ownership, and the reward far outweighs the sacrifice.  There are few problems that CAN’T be solved, and many wonderful professionals to call on who can help. Remaining flexible, open-minded, and willing to work through any challenges that come your way will help you to conquer any obstacle you may face. There is a solution to every issue… and with some responsible planning and realistic expectations, these curveballs can be handled successfully, adding some wonderful life experience to your skillset.  Now… to continue reminding myself of this as we manage those bees…

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