Homeownership is a popular option in the Carolinas. In North Carolina, the latest homeownership rate is 65.8%. Meanwhile, in South Carolina, the rate is even higher at 73.2. Why not? It’s fun to make a home your own and make memories with friends and family there. Yet, along with the benefits, there are also many ongoing responsibilities.
In introducing our continuing series, this article explores several important aspects of owning a house. We’ll follow up in the coming months with a more in-depth discussion of the essential things homeowners need to know about each of these areas.
Unless you paid in full upfront you likely have a mortgage. This is a loan used to purchase the home with your house serving as collateral. You’ll have a fixed or adjustable interest rate, which along with the loan term, and how much you contributed as a down payment, will impact how you much you pay over the life of the loan.
You’ll be paying a monthly amount that covers the principal (the amount borrowed) as well as the interest. You might also include your taxes and insurance in your monthly payment.
If you want to change your mortgage terms or take advantage of lower interest rates, you may choose to refinance.
Neither South Carolina nor North Carolina requires homeowners insurance. However, if you have a mortgage, your lender is likely to make it mandatory. Homeowner insurance policies are designed to protect your home and personal belongings in case of theft, fire, or natural disasters.
Many policies also safeguard you against liability for accidents that injure other people or damage their property. The policy can cover medical expenses for someone accidentally injured on your property as well.
Still, if you want to protect against losses from flood, earthquake, landslides, mudslides, or mudflow, you’ll typically need to purchase additional coverage.
Review your policy regularly to ensure that you have adequate coverage. We’ll discuss in more detail in a future blog the factors that might change your coverage needs.
Along with your mortgage payment and insurance premiums, you will also be responsible for paying property taxes. These taxes, which fund public services in your area, can be a significant expense. The county will calculate your home value and tax you accordingly.
It can help to make yourself aware of any tax breaks or exemptions. For example, there may be exemptions for disabled veterans or senior citizens.
If you disagree with your property’s assessed value, you can typically appeal. The process will vary depending on your location and local laws.
Improving your home’s energy efficiency can benefit your bottom line as well as the environment. An energy audit is a good way to identify areas where you could be losing energy and improve efficiency. You can find online audit tools online or hire a professional contractor to do the survey of your home energy use.
Don’t overlook simple steps you can take to save money on your energy bills. This could include:
You might also consider installing solar panels, wind turbines, or geothermal heating and cooling to generate renewable energy to power your home.
You may have big ideas for how you’re going to improve your home. Of course, if you’re moving into a Saussy Burbank home, we like to think no improvements are needed! Still, you’ll want to be cautious when undertaking home improvement projects.
Don’t dive into a major change without:
Regularly inspect your home’s interior and exterior — we suggest doing it every season — to identify any damage or wear or tear that needs attention. Keeping your home in good condition through regular maintenance can help you to avoid more expensive repairs in the future.
Water damage, for example, is something you want to address promptly. Many homeowners don’t realize the damage that water can cause until it’s too late.
Pest control is another one to add to your regular maintenance plan. You may not be able to name the bug you catch skittering across your floor, but don’t underestimate the extent of an infestation. Scheduling consistent pest control services can help unwanted critters from causing real damage to your home.
In buying your home you probably looked to learn about the schools, what’s around for recreation, and tried to meet some neighbors. Now, that you’re living in the home, make sure you learn the neighborhood’s zoning laws and any homeowner association (HOA) rules.
By getting involved in your neighborhood association or HOA, you can gain access to useful community resources. You’ll also learn more about what you can do to be a good and considerate member of the community.
Thinking “that won’t happen to me,” could leave you at risk in terms of home security or emergency preparedness. Make sure that your home has smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. Check these regularly to make sure they are still up to the job when you need them.
Don’t underestimate the value of installing deadbolts, using motion-sensing lights, and keeping your home well-lit at night. You don’t want to learn about a vulnerability in your home security after you’ve become a victim of it.
Along the same lines, plan for emergencies. Have backup supplies in place for power outages or natural disasters. Make a plan for how to evacuate the home if necessary, and practice it with your family to give everyone confidence under pressure.
Saussy Burbank is known throughout the Carolinas for building quality crafted homes with modern floor plans in keeping with the distinct flavor of their specific neighborhoods. Tour our virtual gallery to see our latest offerings in top locations such as Charleston, Charlotte, and Myrtle Beach. Or contact a sales rep today.