Taking care of your new home
In terms of taking care of your first home, it’s a good idea to think of your responsibilities in two categories:
- Financial costs (e.g. rates and taxes, insurance, etc.)
- Physical upkeep (e.g. maintenance and repairs, renovations, etc.)
We’ve put together essential advice about each of these, to help you make your way confidently from homebuyer to homeowner. Don’t let the responsibilities of homeownership overwhelm you. It’s all part of the deal. You can do this!
The running costs of owning your first home
The paperwork is done, the keys are in the palm of your hand, you’ve moved in and you’re finally a homeowner! Now what?! Well, apart from your regular expenses and monthly bond repayments, you’ll need to budget for additional costs. Here are the main ones to include, and a brief breakdown of what they involve:
Municipal rates and taxes.
These are fees based on the size of your property and payable to your local authority or municipality, for services provided. For example, refuse collection, sewerage provision, maintenance of roads, streetlights, signage and more.
If you buy a sectional title property, like an apartment in an existing complex or a unit in a brand-new development, there will be a Body Corporate that oversees the complex. They will charge owners a levy, based on the size of individual units, for maintaining the common areas of the property with services like security and landscaping. From time to time there could also be a special levy, for example if the exterior of the building needs painting or repairs.
These include water and electricity, and nowadays often also internet services.
Water and electricity charges will be based on usage and payable to your local authority or municipality. In most parts of South Africa, you can install prepaid meters that make it easier to monitor usage and manage spending.
Internet services depend on whether the area has been trenched for fibre and whether the property itself is fibre-enabled. Installation, activation and monthly connectivity charges can vary, so shop around for the best deals. Remember, there’s usually a difference between the company that provides the infrastructure (the physical fibre, wiring or cables) and the service provider (the connectivity and speed of connection).
If you buy a freestanding house, then homeowners insurance covers your property against loss and damage, and is usually mandatory if you have a bond. The monthly premium is dependent on the loan amount granted for your property. Remember that homeowners insurance is building insurance, so it does not cover the contents of your home. To ensure your personal possessions, you need to take out home contents insurance.
In a sectional title property, the Body Corporate will be responsible for building insurance and your contribution will most likely be covered by your levy. However, it’s a good idea to take out home contents insurance to protect your personal possessions.
If you have a home loan, the bank or financial institution that grants your bond will most likely also require you to take out loan protection or life cover to the value of your bond, to safeguard your loved ones by ensuring that the loan is taken care of if you pass away before the end of the loan term.
Homeownership – 10 reasons to do regular maintenance and repairs!
It feels good to be a homeowner for the first time, doesn’t it? There are plenty of perks to owning your own place instead of renting. Of course, you’ll also have realised by now, that there are more responsibilities too. Keep things neatly in hand by remembering that it pays not to ignore regular maintenance and repairs. It will cost you more in the end and that’s not worth it! In case you’re not convinced, though, here’s a little extra motivation.
Your home will last longer. A well-maintained property will stand the test of time and require less frequent repairs or upgrades.
Your home will be safer. Ensure that everything from burglar bars to safety gates and electric gates or fences remain in good working order so that your home is as safe as possible.
You’ll save money. By fixing small things regularly, you’ll avoid large, costly repairs over time.
You’ll be less stressed. Avoid procrastinating over small tasks and letting your to-do list overwhelm you. Instead, enjoy peace of mind and confidence in your home.
You’ll save the environment. Well-maintained systems and appliances will use less energy, which is good news for the planet, plus your utility bills will come down.
You’ll be rid of pests. Pest control is super important if you want to ensure the health and safety of your home. It could also play a role in resale value, so it pays not to ignore it.
Things will last longer. By not letting regular maintenance slip, you can greatly increase the lifespan of products and appliances.
You’ll avoid secondary damage. Protect your home from unforeseen damage, for example by maintaining the plumbing you avoid having your beautiful wooden floors, or those expensive carpets, inundated when a pipe bursts!
You’ll enjoy living there. Home maintenance improves the living experience and therefore quality of life for everyone who lives in your home.
You’ll make money. A well-maintained property is worth more overall, so if you look after it, the value of your asset increases over time – it’s as simple as that!
As you can see, it really pays to maintain your property with care and attention – not only for financial reasons, but also for the health, safety and well-being of everyone who lives, works or spends time there.