It’s no secret that most New Year’s resolutions are tossed out about a month after the tree is taken down, but this year, dear homeowner, things will be different. In 2021, you have the opportunity to make resolutions on behalf of your home rather than your waistline or still-blank journal pages, and we believe you’ll enjoy the sense of pride and wellbeing that you’ll gain as a result of sticking to them.
As homeowners, we must stay focused on saving money, maintaining and improving our homes, and keeping interior spaces organized and gleaming. Sound daunting? By following Parks' Top New Year’s Resolutions for Homeowners, you’ll have a handy guide to keep you on-track from now on.
1.) Budget for Emergencies
The average homeowner would be wise to carry a cash reserve representing 3 – 6 months of income. Not only will this emergency fund help buy time in case of lost income, but it will also prove indispensable when your home requires repairs. Roof repairs, plumbing emergencies, and broken HVAC systems are just a few ways your home may surprise you in the coming years. Plan for the unexpected by sticking to a shoestring budget and stashing any available cash in a fund that you’ll only touch when it’s unavoidable.
2.) Funnel Extra Income Toward Your Mortgage
If you’re able to achieve your emergency savings goals while also setting aside money for your retirement, and still find extra funds in your budget—you're doing very well! Reward yourself by paying off your mortgage as quickly as possible. Doing so will you save you thousands of dollars in interest payments and help you build your equity more rapidly; ultimately, both benefits will give you more financial independence and maximize your buying power.
3.) Check on Your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy
Read through your home’s insurance policy. Make sure you’re covered adequately. Once you’ve determined your coverage needs, take the time to get new quotes from several competing companies. You may find that you are able to gain more coverage at the same rate or lower your rate while keeping the coverage you already have. Every dollar spared can be shifted into one of your savings goals or toward your mortgage.
4.) Obtain an Energy-Efficiency Audit
One of the easiest ways to save significantly on your home-related expenses is pursuing a detailed energy audit. Unless your home was built post-2005 and has been updated with green- and smart-energy systems, you’re likely over-consuming energy, and burning your cash every month as a result. While the initial suggested upgrades will require you to spend more right away, you’ll see benefits every month for the entire time you live in your home. Furthermore, when it’s time to sell, your updated house will fetch a premium sale price on the market.
5.) Test Fire, CO2, and Radon Detectors
Perhaps nothing is more crucial to your safety than ensuring that your home’s detection systems are perfectly maintained. Don’t wait for a battery to die to check them out, either; make it your goal to run a full check every six months.
6.) Create or Update Your Home Emergency Kit
A disaster preparedness kit is an essential item for every home. By January 15th, gather the suggested items, teach your family members how to use the kit, show them where it’s stored, and create a schedule for checking and replacing items as-needed. As we’ve seen this year, the future may be unpredictable, but we can control how prepared we are for what lies ahead.
7.) Run a Home Inventory Analysis
Grab a notepad, and go through your home systematically, checking one small area at a time. You may be surprised by the number of belongings you own, but you will also likely notice things that are missing from your list. For instance, if you have three fondue sets but no electric griddle, take the time to set this imbalance to rights! You may even be able to take advantage of community resources designed to allow you to sell or swap household items with your neighbors; this approach saves cash and is also the most environmentally-friendly solution.
Whether you’ve recently merged households with your significant other, have unpacked fifty wedding gifts, or have just seen your child off to college, it’s likely that you have some items in your home that need to go. Take a look at the inventory you created in #7, and take this opportunity to declutter. Sell, donate, or trash anything that isn’t serving your goals for your life in your new home. No regrets, no guilt, and no hanging onto something just because someone else expects you to.
9.) Get Fully Organized
Now that you have pared down your belongings, you’re in a great place to organize what’s left. Place like with like, purchase attractive organizers if needed, and make sure everything in your home is easily accessible to you. A well-organized home is easier to clean and a pleasure to occupy!
10.) Implement a Manageable Cleaning Routine, or Hire Help
If you’ve struggled with keeping your home sparkling clean in the past, create daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly schedules for yourself. In this way, you’ll ensure that tasks are completed on time, which will ultimately reduce your workload as well as train you to recognize how frequently each job should be tackled.
Rather than looking around your home and becoming anxious or frustrated with the amount of work you’re facing, take a look at the breakdown you’ve made, and commit to following this plan for one full year. Of course, we recommend that you update your list as you discover more about your home’s needs and your own preferences.
For example, while some homeowners want their home’s windows cleaned weekly, others are content with handling this chore monthly. Either approach is perfectly fine, and thus window-washing needs only be completed as often as you like.
If you decide that you hate scrubbing, there’s no shame in hiring a cleaning service to help you stay on top of your priorities. What matters most, in this case, is maintaining your home.
11.) Stay on Top of the Yard Work
Sure, yard work can be a big responsibility, but it’s much more work to reclaim a yard that’s “gone to the dogs.” Keep on top of weeding, mowing, mulching, and pruning to ensure your home’s curbside appeal and welcoming exterior are tip-top for years to come.
12.) Invest in Home Security
These days, home security systems are affordable, easy-to-use, and highly effective. You can choose to DIY it or hire a professional; you may prefer a single door camera or an elaborate whole-home design. Whatever you decide: make 2021 the year you invest in your safety.
Thank you for visiting Parks! If you are shopping for a new home in 2021 or are using this list to prepare your current home for the market, be sure to reach out to one of our experienced Parks Realty agents. Despite the challenges 2020 presented, we’re always here to help you with your realty needs.