People always spend time setting personal goals prior to the new year, but rarely do they spend time thinking about their home. At Home Bay, we know how important it is to keep your home in good repair, to make sure it’s safe and to make sure you’re always working toward getting the best return on your investment. To accomplish these goals, we encourage you to incorporate these four New Years smart homeowner resolutions into your 2016 plans.
Think about whether you plan to sell or stay:
The market in California is great, so if you’re a homeowner in a desirable area, it may be a good time to consider a sale. Check the value of your home to get an idea of what kind of returns you could get, think about where you are in life, consider whether your home is meeting your needs (and if not, what could be better) and write it all down. If you decide you are ready to sell, read our seller preparation checklist. If you decide to stay put, think about what you can do in 2016 to increase your home’s value to make a future move more lucrative.
Make a list and budget for 2016 home improvements:
Whether you decide to sell or stay, you likely have a few home improvement ideas for the new year. Maybe it’s finally time to rip up that old carpet and replace it with hardwood, install recessed lighting in the kitchen or rip out the 70s tile from the bathroom to give it a fresh new look. Whatever the case, all repairs and improvements cost money, so it’s good to have a priority list to help you decide which repairs to tackle and when.
If you budget intelligently, you won’t feel the pain of massive out of pocket payments. To do so, make a list that outlines your must-haves, nice-to-haves and price each project. Then, set up a separate savings account that you can add to on a bi-weekly or monthly basis to cover the cost of your must-haves and decide how much you need to contribute to cover the cost. If your first project uncovers an unknown issue that causes you to go over budget, you can move the rest of the list to next year. Or, if you get a great deal on flooring that allows you to work through additional projects and still have room in your budget, you can start on your nice to haves list.
Prepare to get the best possible tax return:
Taxes are a pain in the you-know-what, but by doing a little prep work, you can save yourself hours of hunting around the house when the deadline to file is staring you down. Pull together as many of the following items you have to be on the ball when tax time comes:
- 1098 statement – showing mortgage interest paid:
This statement likely won’t be ready yet, but you can log in to your mortgage provider’s website to locate where it’ll be available in the system when it’s ready.
- Property tax records:
These records include documentation for any tax that you’ve paid on land and property you own that isn’t used for business.
- Insurance records:
If your property was damaged at any point in 2015, make sure you have a ledger that shows the value of your personal property before and after the casualty as well as information on the amount of any insurance you claimed that was applied towards the loss.
- 1098 statement – showing mortgage interest paid:
Check on your insurance policies and do a safety check:
Policies are usually issued on an annual basis, so check the status of your homeowners insurance and make sure you’re set up for coverage in 2016. The end of the year is also great time to test the batteries in all your smoke alarms and carbon dioxide detectors and replace any that are dead.
Fire is a big home risk in California, so for preventative purposes, make sure your air filters are cleaned, there’s not a major dust bunny living in the dryer lint trap, the areas around your hot water heater and furnace are free and clear of debris and all your home’s outlets and plugs are in good condition. Also double check to make sure you’re stocked on safety equipment: a fire extinguisher, fire ladders if needed, first aid kits, etc.
Tackling this homeowner resolution list will give you peace of mind and will help you stay organized as you head into 2016. Have a happy, healthy new year!
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