What are the Responsibilities of Homeownership?

Advice July 23, 2019

A great read for first-time buyers, newer homeowners and seasoned ones too. This blog post covers the framework of homeownership and what it may entail. While this post may not cover everything, it will get you started on the right path, or back on the right track and you will hopefully have some great takeaways… We have asked ourselves this question, so have you, and probably everybody else who plans to take on buying a homeWhat are the responsibilities of homeownership? 


When purchasing a home you will encounter costs along the way. This blog is more centered around once you become a homeowner but we will cover the basics when buying a home as well. As described in previous articles, should I Rent or Buy?, you are going to need a minimum of 5% down payment, plus the applicable home insurance premium, potentially a home inspection, and status certificate, depending on the home you buy. Oh, and don’t forget about associated closing costs like legal fees, disbursements, land transfer tax, statement of adjustments, title insurance, survey, and the cost of a moving company to move all that stuff you own into your new home! Is this sounding confusing already? Ask one of our experience Guelph REALTORS® for clarity on these costs.


You are all moved into your beautiful home and here they come… the monthly expenses! Depending on the price of the home you purchased, your down payment, rate, and mortgage insurance premium (if applicable), this will derive your monthly debt-servicing commitment – this will likely be one of your bigger expenses. Budget for home and content insurance, property taxes, gas, hydro, water, water heater rental fees, condo fees, internet/cable/phone, etc. (not all of these will be applicable to your home). We suggest using “Kiplinger’s” Household Budget Worksheet to help project your monthly expenses.


You seek out ideal weather for these, sunny with a little breeze and not too hot – lawn care, landscaping, and gardening. Expect to cut the grass (likely weekly in the summer), pull weeds, spread grass seed and fertilizer and take on projects that improve the value of your home on the exterior. Making the choice to keep your landscaping looking fresh not only improves the value of your home but improves your neighbourhood and encourages everyone around you to start the lawnmower too! Some of this does come at an expense; seed, fertilizer, lawnmower, associated gardening tools and so on.


It doesn’t end at the exterior, maintaining your interior is just as important. Being a homeowner involves dusting kitchen cabinetry, shelves and anything else that dust accumulates on, vacuuming and mopping the floor, making food and cleaning the dishes, prepping for tomorrow’s lunch, cleaning the bathroom toilets and vanity, and the list goes on. Start a good habit by consistently tidying and keeping the cleanliness of your home up on a regular basis, rather than letting things build up out of control and then its too hard to get your home back to its full, clean, potential.


Just to think that the monthly expenses and all-around hard work isn’t enough… Yes, homeownership does require saving some cash for those unexpected repairs that come up. One of your pipes might burst, some shingles might fly off in a wind storm, or one of your appliances might break down – these things do happen and it is best to be prepared for them. We suggest saving a little bit of money each month for this potential hurdle. While on this topic, being a homeowner means you have to differentiate between repairs and maintenance that you need and the ones that you want. Even with proper home maintenance and upkeep, mechanical systems and fixtures are going to need replacing over time. You should map out a projected timeline of some of the bigger repairs that you might need over time so you don’t have any surprises. PRO TIP: plan to complete one project, big or small, each year. This way you don’t start five different projects and end up with only one or two being finished – nor are you then usually swamped with multiple major ones at once.


Start filing away all of the paperwork for your home expenses. As mentioned in the earlier paragraph, your shingles might fly off your home and you may need that warranty paperwork. This will be a good way to track your expenses and have a history of the repairs and work completed on your home when you decide to sell in the future. New owners love a detailed history of repairs and work that has been completed on the home, and will feel more comfortable with assuming it in the state it is – the more paperwork to tell the story, usually, the better. Some professions may benefit from this record-keeping for tax purposes as well.


Get to know the basics about how your home works. Some of the main systems you will need to know how to work are your heating and cooling system, electrical, plumbing, water, and security system. Youtube and Google have a serious amount of written and video content on how these systems work. We also suggest flipping through the applicable manual for some help or contacting your local professional for upkeep and maintenance tips! PRO TIP: Change your furnace filter on a regular basis.


Being a homeowner requires and sometimes warrants what some call “sweat equity” into big-ticket improvements to your property. Some of these projects may be something you need like a roof replacement, siding replacement, detached garage, replacing windows, and some of them may be an improvement you want – a detached garage or shop, pool, a deck or patio, or interior biggies like a kitchen or bathroom. Have a look at 20 Big Ticket Home Improvement Ideas and Their Costs. As mentioned in the earlier paragraph of “REPAIRS, MAINTENANCE & NEEDS VS. WANTS”, map out a projected timeline of some of the bigger repairs that you might need over time so you don’t have any surprises.


If you are not familiar with how foreclosure works; foreclosure is a legal process in which a lender attempts to recover the balance of a loan from a borrower who has stopped making payments to the lender by forcing the sale of the asset. Some main reasons why some homeowners foreclose is because of job loss or income loss, overspending, health crisis, property taxes, utilities or property expenses, auto costs, death in the family, etc. It is in your best interest that you continue to make the correct payments of your property’s financing and carrying obligations.


Speaking of all the updates, repairs, renovations you may wish to see in your home. A big step is choosing which contractor you are going to go with. Here are some tips on how you can choose a contractor wisely; Have a general idea of the scope of work you want to be completed, reach out to friends, family, and colleagues for references, get multiple quotes, and check each contractor’s references and previous work completed – checking photo galleries and references or testimonials are a great start.

While homeownership is a big weight to carry, the responsibility and overall commitment may be rewarding in many ways. It can give you great satisfaction and you can develop pride of ownership over time. Please reach out to our team of experienced Guelph REALTORS® to see if being a homeowner is an option for you!