How Homeownership can Change You

Buying a home is a huge deal. First-time buyers transform from renters to owners in a single transaction, a change that has far-reaching implications about how you see yourself. 

Being an owner grounds you in your community.
When you buy a home, you create deep community connections in a way renting never can. After all, when you’re a renter, your relationship to the actual property and structure are less personal. You don’t own it, so if something goes wrong, you call the landlord—the owner—to make repairs. If the wind blows shingles off it is the owner’s insurance that handles getting a new roof. When a natural disaster strikes you know someone else will take care of it.

Now, as the owner, all these things are yours to manage. When you live in the property that you own, you are your own landlord. You’re the property manager in charge of repairs. The buck stops with you! 

Don’t let all that responsibility deter you, though. It is that very sense of duty that creates pride of ownership. While your home doesn’t define you, it does represent you in the neighborhood and to your community. And with the responsibility come all the rights of ownership as well. 

Every payment you make toward your mortgage principle adds value—equity—to your home. Each time you maintain your home and yard, you’re helping it retain that equity. As a renter, your payment went to the owner’s equity. So, if you make improvements to your home, and continue to pay toward the principle, that equity accrues to you. 

Equity increases when the community or neighborhood becomes more desirable so that the fair-market value goes up. Increases due to economic growth and demand add up to more value for you … instead of an increase in your rent payment that goes to a landlord.

Being an owner helps your bottom line in other ways too.
The most predictable thing about renting is that rent will go up. That means any increase you might get to your wages or salary must go toward rent rather than something else you’d like to have. If you have a fixed mortgage, the basic cost of your housing remains the same year over year. When you receive that cost of living adjustment or new position with a bump to your income, you can spend it on improvements to your home to further increase its value, pay off some other debt, or spend it on something else entirely. It gives you choices.

Because you appreciate your property, it appreciates in value.

If you’ve never owned a home and would like to explore the possibility, start by contacting a real estate agent and get the conversation started.

Automate Your House with These Smart-Home Technologies

Science fiction has long reveled in the concept of autonomous homes and transportation. But it wasn’t until very recently that these dreams started to edge their way into reality. With semi-autonomous vehicles on the manufacturing line and “home assistants” like Google Home flying off the shelves, today’s average homeowner now has options.

The growing number of home automation technologies is encouraging even more innovation in a burgeoning market. But, the newness of these devices and the confusion around what they actually do can make it difficult to decide which one to bring into your home.

In today’s post, I’m going to introduce you to some of today’s most handy smart home devices to burden the workload of homeownership and give you some tips on which of the best technologies are yet to come.

Home assistants

One of the first smart home devices to hit the shelves was arguably the home assistant. They look like small Bluetooth speakers but have the ability to respond to your voice commands. So far, the front runners are the Google Home and Amazon Echo, but there are a number of other brands in the running as well.

Many of the tasks you use a smartphone for can also be easily accomplished with a home assistant. Tell it to set or turn off your alarms, look up things on Google, ask about the weather, play music, and so on. The Amazon Echo functions similarly but also integrates with other smart home systems so you can control things like your lights and coffee maker just by asking.

Integrated gadgets

Many home automation manufacturers have taken to selling kits that enable you to automate your home one outlet or device at a time. You can then control these devices with your smartphone, whether you’re at home or at the office. (Ever get worried you left the iron on? No more!)

The best part of these devices is how customizable they are and the fact that many integrate with assistants like Amazon Echo. However, some systems, like Samsung’s SmartThings, has its own central “hub” that connects your devices.

Smart home security

Security companies were one of the earliest adopters of automation. Today, many of the biggest home security companies (think ADT and Vivint) aren’t just making your home safer, they’re also making your life easier.

Common among these smart home security systems are things like cameras you can control with your smartphone from work, alerts from smoke and CO detectors, and door and window sensors to alert you if someone enters, or attempts to enter, your home.

These technologies are still evolving. That means each year newer, better devices will hit the market. However, this process of innovation will also drive down prices, which is good news for you as a homeowner and consumer. So, think about what your specific needs are and choose the products that fit them. And, if you’re not sure about any of the products on the market, don’t be afraid to hold off–the next best thing is right around the corner.