Tips for a New Homeowner in Charlottesville

Homeownership means, for better or worse, you never stop working on and protecting your home. The Charlottesville area can be a moist, humid environment with lots of stinkbugs, termites, bad ladybugs and more. This means constant vigilance concerning your home.

A client who will soon be a homeowner for the first time asked me for advice – what does he need to do once he owns the home? (I’m thisclose to recommending that folks do as I say and not as I do and get a home inspection every couple of years)

Naturally, I asked on Twitter and Google + (I’m not giving up on it quite yet) and got some useful and interesting responses from homeowners and real estate folks.

Before I go on, thank you to everyone who answered; I sincerely appreciate the responses and for your helping me help my client (and hopefully quite a few more)

Stephen provided the most comprehensive answer:

I heard homeowners should budget to spend ~2% of the house price in maintenance per year. May sound like a lot, but if you do the math and add it up over the last 5 years and two houses I’ve done: repave driveway, replace HVAC, septic pumping, minor pluming leak, replace dishwasher, replace switches, replace main water shutoff valve, repair drywall, repaint railings, clean gutters (didn’t have a big enough ladder), pest control … and that doesn’t even include costs of yard maintenance. And then there’s upgrades like: new fence, new wood stove, install garage door opener, new garbage disposal, new propane tank, replace fixtures and cabinet handles, new tv antenna… There may be more I’m forgetting…*

Jane offers simple and perfect advice: “Never. Never ignore water or damp inside the house.” (I’m bolding this one)

Jennifer said – “Get a ladder and some basic tools and clean your gutters”

Steve says on G+ – “Claim your home on Zillow. If the listing agent or previous homeowner provided a description and photos, those may not be relevant anymore. Plus, it puts the control back where it belongs. That, and buy some duct tape and WD40.”

This is an interesting response (Steve’s in California where Zillow may be more accurate) … In Charlottesville, Zillow’s accuracy is dubious at best, but I’m finding more and more of my clients are using Zillow, even if only for ancillary information. So … better to be prepared!

Jeremy says: “Changing air filters DOES make a difference”

Bobbi suggests: “Fireplace? Get it cleaned and inspected. and Free energy inspection via power company. Work with@LEAP_VA to correct. Simple changes to blinds/curtains help. Tax credits. and Service plan for HVAC system (relationship w/company goes a long way when crisis strikes). Same for pest control/termites.”

Scott suggests: “#1 – Get on your roof 2x a year just to see what’s going on up there. #2 – Unequivocally buy a home warranty.”

And Keith says: “Put aside 2% of asset value annually and you’ll never have a problem”


What tips do you have for new homeowners? Please leave them in the comments (or email me).


Little things like how to unstick a garbage disposal can be infuriating … and infuriatingly easy to remedy (and expensive if you have to call a plumber)

These are a few of the sites I have found to be useful:

From Lifehacker:

Home Repair

Everyone should be able to patch up a little bit of their house, whether it’s fixing a hole in the wall, filling a hole in the floor, or even just fixing a stripped screw hole. You should also know a few basic things about plumbing, like how to unclog a drain. None of these things are very difficult, but knowing how to do them saves you a call to a repair man (not to mention a bit of money) when something does go wrong.

Houselogic has some good tips:

- Preventative Home Maintenance

- Homeownership FAQ

- Seasonal Maintenance

- Quick repair tips

The DIY Network can be pretty helpful.

* I fixed a couple misspellings from his original comment.

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About Jim Duncan

Father, husband, Charlottesville real estate agent, bicycle rider & soccer coach. And more. Lots more.
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  • Frank Dubec

    Step one: Be able to make your payments. 

    • http://www.realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

      Well said.