Most Americans consider homeownership to be the single best long-term investment and a primary source of financial security, especially as home values continue to strengthen. Despite the economic rollercoaster during the recession, homeownership has endured as the foundation of the American Dream.
Owning your home provides numerous benefits. It not only helps build financial strength and emotional wellbeing for you and your family, but it also leads to increased stability for the surrounding community.
We would like to take this opportunity to reinforce some of the many advantages homeownership can bring.
Financial Benefits: It’s nearly impossible to talk about homeownership without mentioning its most widely recognized benefit: financial fortitude. Beyond the appreciation factor (home values were up 6.3 percent nationally in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015), the monetary advantages of owning a home become most evident around tax time. American home owners saw their tax bills trimmed by a total of more than $100 billion in 2014.
Those who itemize their federal income tax deductions can deduct 100 percent of their mortgage interest payments on a first or second home, up to a maximum mortgage amount of $1 million. Other deductions include the interest paid on up to $100,000 of home equity loans, state and local real estate taxes, and any potential mortgage insurance premiums.
Sense of Community: Homeowners’ commitment to their community is often expressed through a higher level of civic participation – via volunteer programs, church and school activities, and property maintenance – resulting in a positive impact on their “social capital.”
Recent studies also have consistently shown homeowners are significantly less likely to become the victims of a crime. Stable neighborhoods with a predominant structure of homeownership consistently display stronger social ties among the residents. This generates added motivation to maintain a safe environment for themselves, their families and their neighbors.
Quality-of-life Enhancements: Above all else, having full control of one’s own home can be the most satisfying benefit. There’s an intangible sense of accomplishment that comes from being a homeowner. The freedom to personalize and make improvements to the home helps build equity in the home and increase satisfaction for the owner.
As a new home owner, you are excited about getting your house in order — setting up furnishings, rearranging and decorating. But once you have place for everything and everything in its place, it’s time to get a handle on the routine maintenance you’ll need to perform to help ensure that you and your family live comfortably in your new home for years to come.
Maintaining a clean home is one way to ensure its longevity. Here are some tips for properly maintaining some of the systems in your new home:
Heating and Cooling Systems
Late summer or early fall are the ideal times to do an annual inspection and cleaning of these systems.
Change or wash the filters every three months.
If you have a gas furnace, keep your pilot light burning during the summer to help keep the furnace dry and prevent corrosion.
Registers help regulate the flow of air and maintain the desired temperature in your home. Keep registers closed in rooms you don’t use to save on cooling/heating costs.
Every member of your family should know where the intake valves are located. Label each one.
If any of your appliances develop a leak, inspect your drain trap. A partially clogged drain can cause overflow. Use a plunger or a plumber’s snake to unclog the drain. If you need to, use boiling water to help unclog a partially opened drain. Call a plumber if these techniques don’t work.
A worn washer, a loose part in a faucet or steam in a hot water pipe are generally the causes of a noisy pipe. Do not hesitate to repair the noise — vibrations can follow the noise and lead to leaks.
Gutters and Downspouts
Clear away leaves, tree limbs and other debris from gutters and downspouts.
Turn the downspouts away from your home’s foundation.
Every four to six years, paint gutters that are not made of aluminum or vinyl to help prevent rust.
Remember to read the instruction manual for every appliance in your new home. The manuals provide recommended cleaning and maintenance schedules. Also familiarize yourself with any warranties you have on both the house and its systems. Some warranties may be voided if problems arise because of failure to perform routine maintenance.