9 Things I Wish I Had Known About Owning My First Home (Before I Bought It)

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Years before I ever dreamed of homeownership for myself, I was an HGTV connoisseur. In college, I double majored in “Property Virgins” and “House Hunters” and spent hours glued to the TV with my roommate, ogling other people’s granite countertops.

Fast forward nearly a decade, and the time had arrived for me to purchase my own home. (No granite countertops here—my house was more like the “before” scene in an episode of “Fixer Upper”).

Not surprisingly, TV homeownership didn’t prepare me for the real thing. There are lots of lessons I’ve had to learn the hard way.

If you’re gearing up for your own journey into homeownership, turn off the TV and gather ’round. I’ll fill you in on a few things I wish I had known beforehand, and a few surprises (some happy, some frustrating) that I encountered along the way.

1. A beautiful yard takes work

That lawn’s not going ti cut itself

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I never met a succulent that I didn’t kill. Even my fake plants are looking a little wilted right now. But even though I don’t have a green thumb, landscaping and yard maintenance are forever on my to-do list.

Each spring, I spray Roundup with impunity, attempting (and failing) to conquer the weeds. My husband handles mowing and edging.

I’ve slowly started to learn which plants can endure abuse, neglect, and a volatile Midwestern climate. I still have a long way to go in my landscaping journey, but all this work has given me a new appreciation for other people’s lush, beautiful lawns.

When you’re house hunting, keep in mind that those beautiful lawns you see—and that outdoor space you covet—come at a steep price. Either your time and frustration, or a hefty bill for professional landscapers, will be necessary to keep things presentable.

2. You might get a bill for neighborhood improvements

Your property taxes should pay for every improvement to the neighborhood, right? Not necessarily.

When my neighbors came together to petition the city for a speed bump on our busy street, the cost was passed on to us homeowners. It wasn’t covered by property taxes, so we got a bill in the mail a few months later. Surprise!

When you’re preparing to buy a house, make sure you budget for homeownership expenses—not just repair and HOA costs, but those pesky fees that crop up when you least expect them.

3. Brush/trash removal? It works differently in every city

You might not be able to just leave your leaves on the curb…

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As a kid, I spent many fall weekends scooping leaves into yard waste bags that we left on the curb for pickup. But when I became a homeowner, I realized that my early brush with brush removal was unique to the suburb where I grew up. Every city handles it differently, if the city handles it at all.

In Milwaukee, where I live, homeowners can put leaves on the curb for pickup on designated days. For big branches, you need to request a pickup, or potentially dispose of them yourself. Check with your city to find the ordinances and regulations where you live.

4. You’ll want to clean (or hire someone to clean) your nasty windows

Window maintenance was never on my radar as a renter, probably because I never had more than a few windows in an apartment. But then I became the proud owner of many, many windows—and all of them were coated in a thick film of gunk after years of neglect.

After we moved in, I started to tackle the cleaning on my own. But I quickly realized I was getting nowhere fast, and there was no way I could safely clean the exterior windows up in the finished attic.

So, I swallowed my pride and hired window washers. It was some of the best money I’ve ever spent.

5. You may feel a sudden urge to stock up on seasonal decorations

I never looked twice at a $50 wreath or decorative gourd before becoming a homeowner. Now, I have a burgeoning collection of lawn ornaments in the shape of snowmen and spooky cats. Sometimes I don’t even know who I am anymore.

6. You’ll need to create a budget for Halloween candy

Stock up…

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At least I did in my Halloween-loving neighborhood, where the trick-or-treaters come out in droves.

I spent upward of $100 on candy my first year as a homeowner, and most of it was purchased in a panic at the Dollar Store after I noticed that our supply was dangerously low just halfway through the evening.

Now, I stock up in advance and shop with coupons to save a few bucks.

7. DIY renovation is equally rewarding and soul-crushing

Maybe just call someone next time…

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For the first few months after we closed on our house, my husband and I spent every free hour after work and on the weekends ripping out carpeting, pulling nails one by one from the hardwood floors, and scrubbing away at generations’ worth of grime in the bathrooms and kitchen. It was some seriously sick stuff.

Being frugal and ambitious means we can accomplish a lot on a small budget. But acting as our own general contractors became a full-time job on top of both of our full-time jobs.

Simple pleasures like “having a social life” or “Friday night with Netflix” became distant memories. It’s easy now to say it was all worth it, but at the time, I daydreamed about winning the lottery and hiring a team of pros to handle our rehab.

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Watch: Here’s How Low You Can Go in Making an Offer on a Home

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8. My impulse to check real estate listings lingered for a while

When I started house hunting, I obsessively searched for new home listings every day, poring over MLS descriptions and swiping through photos. Reaching for my phone to refresh the realtor.com app became muscle memory.

But after we closed on our house, my impulse to follow the market didn’t disappear overnight. Even though I was a homeowner, I also had a phantom limb where “checking the real estate listings” used to be.

A friend of mine put it best when she wrote about the sensation of loss she experienced when she “no longer had an excuse to occupy [her] free time with these real estate apps.” It’s surprisingly challenging to turn off your home-buying brain after months of being on high alert.

9. You’ll never want to go back to sharing walls

I like my neighbors. I like them even more because, for the most part, I can’t hear them. Gone are the days of people above me making bowling sounds late at night.

Now, I enjoy the sweet, sweet silence of detached living—no adjacent neighbors blasting music or loudly quarreling. All the yard work in the world is worth it for this level of quiet.

The post 9 Things I Wish I Had Known About Owning My First Home (Before I Bought It) appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Holiday Decor From Chip and Jo, the Property Brothers, and Other Stars That’ll Make You Cringe

Instagram / Kohl’s

When it comes to Chip and Joanna Gaines, Drew and Jonathan Scott, Leanne Ford, and other popular reality TV stars, we like to think their holiday decor tastes would be an inspiration for all.

But even TV’s top design pros can take a wrong turn, particularly during the holidays.

As proof, we present some of the most questionable and even creepy holiday decor we’ve seen reality stars buy, sell, or otherwise say is A-OK. Um, do you agree? Check out what we’ve seen and judge for yourself.

Chip and Joanna Gaines present a plant mister ornament

It’s shiny, but it makes no sense.

Magnolia

Chip and Joanna certainly know their way around a modern farmhouse, and their Magnolia shop is bursting with tasteful decor for every room. Still, when it comes to Christmas tree ornaments, a mini plant mister seems like an odd choice.

“Perfect for plant lovers,” the product description insists. Yes, we know plants are popular, but last we checked, no true plant lover would chop down a tree and hang baubles on it, even for the holidays ($10, Magnolia).

Drew Scott croons a Christmas ballad

And since no holiday home is complete without music, did you know that “Property Brothers” star Drew could sing? Yup—he crooned a tune (as seen in the accompanying video) titled “Nothing Feels Better Than Christmas,” which fans can stream on Apple Music or Spotify. Fine, it isn’t the worst thing we’ve heard, but we’re so very glad he can fall back on a successful day job in real estate.

Jonathan Scott offers a vanity ornament

You can’t unsee his stubble.

Kohl’s

Meanwhile, the other “Property Brothers” star, Jonathan, has allowed himself to be turned into an ornament you can hang on your Christmas tree, complete with chin stubble and a tiny tool belt. It’s possible some people find this look festive and fun, but we’re betting most folks will quickly click past this tragic figurine in favor of another snowman or angel instead ($3, Kohl’s).

Leanne Ford trots out ‘carol art’

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A post shared by Leanne Ford (@leannefordinteriors)

“Deck the Halls” is a classic Christmas carol, but it’s also one of the more annoying ditties you can sing—or display on your wall. Still, the co-star of hit show “Restored by the Fords” rewrote this song and designed this poster to celebrate, available at Sapling Press ($30).

Still, though, we thought the “word art” trend has been waning already, and this particular song isn’t exactly something you want guests belting out in your home, right?

Jasmine Roth bought a plastic Santa

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A post shared by Jasmine Roth HGTV (@jasminerothofficial)

Roth has two top shows on HGTV, “Hidden Potential” and “Help! I Wrecked My House,” but we’re not sure either of these programs plays well with this jumbo plastic Santa. Worse, this design star has decided to work him into her own otherwise chic California home vibe this year.

There’s one saving grace, however, in that this Santa is vintage, so perhaps Roth is going for a throwback theme this season?

The ‘Home Edit’ team introduces a Christmas junk drawer

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Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin are the genius duo behind the Netflix show “Get Organized With The Home Edit,” and each episode has them taking on the toughest organizing tasks from A-list celebs (Reese! Khloé!).

We dig their sensibility, of course, but must there be a Christmas theme to their junk drawers, too? The tipping point for us: those perfectly placed bottlebrush trees, nestled in their own precious slots. We get why partitions are necessary for a junk drawer, though, so maybe you’ll want these for some purpose. We just doubt you’ll stuff your Christmas lights in here ($3, Container Store).

‘Good Bones’ crew rolls out ornaments made from rocks

Leave the rocks on the ground.

Two Chicks District Co.

If you love the looks from Karen Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk, the mother-daughter duo on HGTV’s “Good Bones,” you can shop their designs online, including these rocks for the tree. Sure, they sparkle and shine, but unless you’re a family of geologists, these items are still rocks that should otherwise be left in the bin at the natural history museum ($16.50, Two Chicks District Co.).

The post Holiday Decor From Chip and Jo, the Property Brothers, and Other Stars That’ll Make You Cringe appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com