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Now That You're a Homeowner
Now That You're a Homeowner

Your Financial Responsibility

Make Your Mortgage Payments on Time

It’s up to you if you make your mortgage payments by weekly, biweekly, or monthly. But, whichever timetable you’ve chosen, it’s better to make payments on time. Making late payments is called delinquency that may result in late charges and negatively affect your credit rating. And to avoid very serious consequences, like foreclosure, make sure not to fail your payments.

Some of the good way to prevent late payments is to have the amount automatically deducted from your account every month. Keeping at least three months' worth of mortgage payments in savings for emergency situations is also recommended. Discuss the situation with your lender if you are having trouble making payments.

Plan for the Costs of Operating a Home

Besides your mortgage, property taxes and insurance, operating a home has many other ongoing costs. The top of the list are the maintenance and repair costs. There may be other costs as well, like for example, security alarm, snow removal, or gardening. Also may be included as part of your monthly maintenance fee if you have a condominium or strata.

Save for Emergencies

Even when you can do repairs yourself, there are costs. When you have to pay for repairs, the costs are higher. As your home ages, it will need major repairs or replacement that happens to every building. For example, when you bought your home, you might already know that the roof will need to be replaced in a few years because of its age. These are expected repairs and can be planned for. However, many repairs are unexpected, and can sometimes be costly.

For unexpected problems ranging from major repairs to illness and job loss, you must set aside an emergency fund to deal with it. A good guideline is to save 5% of your take-home pay, and to keep the money in a special account.

Live Within Your Budget

Prepare a monthly budget and stick to it. Take a few minutes every month to check your spending and see if you are meeting your financial goals. You must find new ways to save if you spend more than you earn. Ask a professional money manager if you are having trouble sticking to your budget.

Now is the perfect time if you haven't already reviewed your budget. Use the helpful CMHC worksheet Household Budget as Homeowner.

Home Maintenance

Some are the normal part of homeownership−maintenance, repair, and renovations. It’s important to know about your home's basic components, and what actions you will need to take to adjust these systems or turn them off in case of emergency.

You'll need to inspect your home regularly, and replace, or repair, parts and materials that wear out. Since, Canadian seasons can be so extreme, you'll need to do many maintenance tasks on a seasonal basis.

Is your Home Safe?
Fire Evacuation Plan

Do you have a fire evacuation plan? In case of a fire, a plan is important to make sure everyone in your home knows how to get out from each room. You need a special escape plan to get to the ground if your home has a second floor. Check to see that windows have not been painted shut. Although doors and windows should always be securely locked, you have to be able to open them in an emergency.

Fire Extinguishers

Make sure that the fire extinguishers are easy to reach. In case that you have a two storey home, there should be a fire extinguisher on each floor. Don’t forget to check your fire extinguishers at least once a year. To help you remember, make a habit of doing it when you set your clocks to Daylight Saving Time. Replace a fire extinguisher that is 10 years or older.

Smoke Alarms

Having a smoke alarms in your home is a legal requirement in some areas. Having smoke alarms is an excellent precaution. Check smoke alarm batteries at least once a year.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odourless, poisonous gas. So, it is important to have a Carbon monoxide detectors. It will let you know if there are high levels of carbon monoxide in your home. This device can save you from getting illness, or even death. Check them at least once a year. Make a habit of checking your fire extinguishers, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors all at the same time.

Fire Hazards

Make sure that papers, paint, chemicals and other clutter that can cause a fire are stored in a safe place. You must dispose the hazardous materials at a community toxic waste center when you no longer need them. Never put hazardous materials into the garbage.

Valuables

A fireproof box or a safety deposit box are safe place to store your important papers.

Emergency Numbers

Better to keep a list of emergency phone numbers (including 911, poison prevention line, doctors, relatives, neighbours and friends) close to the phone. And make sure your children are aware of the list.

Home Improvements

You might also want to consider renovating or making improvements, besides of doing regular maintenance and repairing your home. These changes will not only make the home more pleasant for you to live in, they may also increase its value.

How Much is Just Right?

When planning renovations, be careful not to go overboard unless you plan to stay in your home for many years. Make sure that your changes won't make your home worth a lot more than the other homes around you if you are planning to sell your house. The value of your home must closely related to the other homes in your area.

Over time, some renovations can practically pay for themselves, especially if they result in savings on utility bills, a higher selling price or years of greater comfort and enjoyment in your home.

Some Things to Keep in Mind

Here are some things to keep in mind when planning a change or renovation:

  • Ask yourself, "How appealing will this change be to someone buying my home in the future?" You can make your own personalized changes with paint. We know that paint is inexpensive and can easily be changed. But, flooring, cabinets and countertops have a longer life − make choices that will also appeal to others.
  • Also think about getting your home energy-rated. This will tell you how energy efficient your home is and what improvements are possible. Visit Natural Resources Canada at www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca to find information on current energy programs.
  • Updating some part of the house like bathrooms and kitchen in an older home can increase its resale value.
  • Landscaping is important too. The right planting can improve the appearance and value of your home.
  • Make your home more appealing by updating your exterior paint, installing new roofing, resurfacing your walkways and driveway, and adding attractive mailboxes.

CMHC has a monthly e-newsletter filled with practical tips and helpful advice. It provides current and topical information relating to a wide variety of homeownership interests. Check out some of the past issues and sign-up today!