The Unglamorous Side of Homeownership

Personal finance is my forte and I have to remind you that it can pertain to the most sophisticated investments to the rather mundane. Part of family finance is to take care of the needs of one’s home and to allocate funds for repair and upkeep. I also counsel people not to procrastinate as it can result in a greater outlay of money when conditions deteriorate. Take my own problem: I had a dripping kitchen faucet and hesitated to hire an expensive plumber. I waited for a couple of weeks until the leak had grown to a virtual rush of unwanted water. I got on the phone in a jiffy. Of course, he fixed it in no time but he said the leak had caused the main pipe to corrode and now he had to replace it at considerable cost. I wish I had not waited. I hadn’t taken my own advice to handle broken household things promptly so they don’t cost more money in the long run. Homeownership is a big topic for my lecture series and it covers equity, mortgages, interest rates, and the like. But there is an unglamorous side of it to be sure. To mix things up a bit, I throw in a few stories like my kitchen faucet to make the point.

Any household budget can be taxed by home repairs and the older your home, the more likely you will encounter the need for on-going maintenance. Sure, we all wish we could buy new construction, but such is not the reality of real estate. There are holes in roofs, possible floods, and consequent mold. Your garage door stops working and the patio cover falls down. New carpet comes every five years as well as new kitchen appliances. Have you priced a good refrigerator or stove lately? You better set money aside. They say to replace your mattress every eight years, but it might be that long before the toilet conks out. It is fun to get upgraded things to make your home more attractive and comfortable, but don’t get blindsided. Start early to save for a rainy day as they say. Don’t ever wait for the last minute or you might have to come see me for a bank loan. I will be waiting to help.

Bank loans are not always easy to obtain but it is possible that they can be used for major home repairs. If you want to put an addition on to your home, replace the roof, or landscape the backyard, it runs into some significant money. But it adds value to the property when it comes time for resale, but it is also worth doing if a profit is your motive. Otherwise, a dilapidated fix-up home draws fewer buyers. Everything relates to everything else in the world of banking and personal finance. Get counseling if you feel at sea in this mysterious realm.