Become a homeowner, everyone says. It’s a smart financial decision, people tell you. But for millions of people, homeownership feels less like a blessing and more like a burden.
Why? Does it have to be this way?
Eight Steps to Reduce Homeownership Stress
Now that the home ownership rate hovers around 64.8 percent – a historically low level – many experts wonder exactly what discouraging Americans (and especially young Americans) from purchasing real estate. For many, it’s the hassle factor.
Home ownership, for all its advantages, also involves a degree of responsibility that simply isn’t a factor when you rent. In many cases, the added stress outweighs the benefits and makes owning a house a burden.
But if you observe a few simple tips, any homeowner can enjoy the best of both worlds: ownership and little to no unnecessary stress. Take a look at the specific things you can do.
1. Buy Only What You Can Afford
Obviously, whatever home you purchase will have a substantial impact on your overall stress level. This is certainly true when it comes to the condition of the home — a fixer-upper will demand a lot more work — but also with the price.
Many homeowners make the mistake of taking the pre-approval amount a lender gives them and using it as the standard for their home search. In other words, if the bank approves a family for a $400,000 loan, they immediately begin to look at houses at that price level.
But to be clear, this is a maximum limit. There’s nothing to stop you from taking a $200,000 loan and purchasing a more modest residence.
The lower your monthly payment, the more room you’ll have in your budget. This makes it less likely that your mortgage payment will constrict your finances and create stress over monthly expenses.
Buy only what you can realistically afford, not what the bank says you can afford. There’s no sense in being house poor for the next five to 10 years of your life.
2. Live in a Smaller House
Since square footage and price are usually directly correlated, this second suggestion goes hand-in-hand with the first. Not only does a smaller house cost less, generally speaking, but it also requires less maintenance and upkeep.
Every space in your home has its own set of needs. There’s more to clean, more space to heat and cool, and additional home systems — such as lights and fans — that have to be maintained.
Think about your actual needs and try to live within them. Not only will your budget thank you, but your sanity probably will, too.
3. Use Hardscapes in Landscaping
If you aren’t careful, your property’s landscaping may consume dozens of hours of your time and energy each month. And though everyone would like to have a lush lawn with great curb appeal, it usually forces a considerable amount of work on your part.
There’s nothing wrong with having appealing landscaping, but be smart about how you achieve it. Try using more hardscapes and native plants that will require less watering and upkeep.
4. Get the Kids to Pitch In
Your kids are far more capable than you probably recognize. Whether they’re five or 15, they should be pitching in around the house.
Assigning your children regular tasks and responsibilities will teach them work ethic and simultaneously make it easier to manage your house. Younger kids can readily clean their rooms, vacuum, dust, and help with the dishes.
Older children can do yard work, clean bathrooms, and even tackle DIY projects and tasks. Stop assuming your children are incapable and challenge them to carry their weight around the house.
5. Take Care of Repairs Immediately
At any given time, most homeowners can rattle off a list of four or five repairs or projects that need to be done. Too often, such projects get delayed for weeks, months, and even years.
As the punch list grows longer, homeowners feel discouraged and develop the sense their home is falling apart. The best solution to this problem is to address needed repairs immediately.
If the water heater is showing signs of aging, get ahead of a potential breakdown and replace it. If an outlet in the kitchen stops working, call out an electrician to diagnose the problem and fix it. The more proactive you are, the more you can enjoy your home.
6. Pay for Quality Work
When you have maintenance or repair work done, don’t just go with the cheapest or most convenient option. It’s better to pay a little extra and get it done right the first time around. You’ll spend less time worrying about recurring issues and get to focus on other things.
7. Keep Your Paperwork Organized
Every homeowner needs a filing cabinet. Inside it, there should be a separate folder for essentials such as mortgage/financing, taxes, HOA, home repair bills and receipts, warranty information, and so on.
If you have the paperwork organized, you don’t have to spend time looking for information when you need it. This avoids the stress and hassle of making phone calls, chasing down forms, and putting out fires when something happens.
8. Stop Keeping Up With the Joneses
This is probably easier said than done, but it’s a sharp move to stop keeping up with the Joneses. If you try to live up to the standards of those around you, you’ll feel more pressure.
From the type of house you live in to how well you care for your lawn, everything will feel like an effort to keep up. This is another excellent reason to buy a practical home in a modest neighborhood.
When you’re surrounded by other people who have a sense of perspective, you’ll feel less pressure to live beyond your means. Instead, you can feel content with what you have.
Buy and Sell With Green Residential
At Green Residential, it’s our mission to make the process of buying and selling homes easy and effortless. We do the heavy lifting so you can focus on the vital details.
For more information on how you can work with one of our experienced agents, please contact us today!