Unforeseen expenses are part of being a homeowner, especially if you want to keep on top of home maintenance and avoid small problems escalating.
Moving into a new home, especially one you have just bought, can be an exciting although daunting experience, and is often accompanied by unpleasant surprises. The first rates bill is one of these, says Lisa Connellan, sales manager at Knight Frank Residential.
“It often takes the council a month or two to get the new owners’ details on the rates account, so when that first rates bill does come it can be triple what the new owner was expecting.”
She advises new homeowners in this situation to wait until the rates bill is registered in their name and, in the interim, put the money aside monthly so they are prepared should they have to pay a few months’ rates in the same month. Insurance is another thing many buyers forget, says Dogon Group Property’s general manager Alexa Horne.
“Many people forget about changing their insurance. One requires in transit insurance, and also needs to make sure that household insurance for the new house is in place once the household goods arrive.”
Moving electricity accounts is something else many buyers may not have thought about. If electricity in the new home is not pre-paid, Nelio Mendes, marketing manager at SAProperty.com, says new owners should set up a “move in” date so they have electricity when on moving day.
“The previous owner would also have to advise the buyer or the agent when they set the move out date so new owners can co-ordinate the dates accordingly. There is also a connection deposit that will be payable.” In addition to sorting out the necessary insurance, Connellan says new homeowners should organise their home security.
“Security should be done as soon as possible. Have your alarm tested if there is one already installed.” Owners, and even tenants, should have their curtains close by so these can be hung as soon as they move in. Horne advises owners to also take water and electricity readings as soon as they move in. It is also important to find out about refuse collection days and recycling options in the neighbourhood. She believes connecting an alarm system to a local security company is “very important”.
When moving in owners should also find out where the water mains supply stop tap, electrical circuit boards and geyser are situated, as they are sometimes not known, and only looked for when there is an emergency or something happens. “The new owner then panics, not knowing where or how to switch on or off the water or electricity,” Connellan says.
New homeowners must consider a range of never before expenses
Paying rates and taxes is one of the biggest adjustments new homeowners must make. Another is carrying out repairs or ongoing maintenance, says Jenna Stevens, a first-time homeowner of a property she and her family previously rented. “We are now responsible for anything that needs attention in our home.
As tenants we informed our landlord and requested attendance to the problem.” Another homeowner, Nicola Williams, agrees: “The toughest adjustment has been the payment of rates and taxes. Over the past three years this amount has practically doubled.”
Interest rate increases have also resulted in unforeseen bond repayment increases, and although Williams and her husband did have a rainy day fund to take care of such growth, they have had to use these funds to pay for other maintenance and work on their home.
Unforeseen expenses are part of being a homeowner, especially if you want to keep on top of home maintenance and avoid small problems escalating. This, and having to pay rates and taxes and face interest rate increases, means many new homeowners have to make sacrifices elsewhere to meet these new financial obligations.
FNB’s spokesperson for home finance, Mpho Ramatong, says new owners must relook at their budgets and adjust their lifestyles:
Water and electricity: Monitor your water and electricity usage and ensure you fix leaking pipes as soon as you become aware of leakage. It is also advisable to put a timer on your geyser so the geyser only switches on for a specified time.
Entertainment: It is advisable to cut back on entertainment and allocate more funds to savings and to household insurance. It would also be worthwhile to limit buying takeaways.
Saving for renovations and maintenance: One way to ensure your property doesn’t lose value is to make sure you do renovations at least once in a period of three to five years. It is important to save monthly for such expenses to avoid denting your budget when the time comes for you to renovate and repair your property.