7 things no-one tells you about owning a home

Owning a home can be daunting. Picture: Cottonbro Studio/Pexels

Owning a home can be daunting. Picture: Cottonbro Studio/Pexels

Published Jan 17, 2024


There's a major sense of accomplishment that goes hand-in-hand with buying your first home, but most first-time buyer advice focuses on things like saving for a deposit and navigating the purchase process.

There is very little information shared about what happens next and what to expect, says Arnold Maritz, co-principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs.

“Once you’ve signed the contract, made your first repayment, and moved into your new home, the expectation is usually that now it’s finally time to relax and enjoy being in your very own home, but the reality is often very different.”

Almost every buyer, he says, feels excitement and pride at having achieved the dream of owning property, but the truth is that owning a home can be daunting for numerous reasons. As such, many people also feel a slew of other emotions – not all of them positive.

But if you know what to expect before taking the plunge, moving and settling into your new home will be much more relaxing, and the first year more enjoyable.

Here are nine things that Maritz says you should know:

1. Buyer’s remorse is inevitable

There’s almost no way for a new homeowner to completely avoid buyer’s remorse, even if it’s just briefly when the enormity and implications of homeownership dawn for the first time. The good news is that it’s all worth it because, for all of its challenges, homeownership can be very rewarding, both financially and emotionally.

2. It might not feel like home straight away

You might feel pressure to love your home from day one, but give yourself some time to ease into it. Realistically, when has a new house ever felt like home as soon as you moved in? Allow yourself to miss your old home and neighbourhood because you’ll soon feel settled and begin to make new friends and memories.

3. You’ll start spending your money differently

Even though you have paid out a chunk of money in deposits and transfer fees, there is still a lot more to do in a new home. These include random repairs, repainting walls, or furnishing extra rooms. And they all cost money. There are also ongoing expenses like rates and taxes.

But most of these expenses are investments in an asset that you own, which takes some of the sting out.

4. Home repairs are costly

Even if you’ve bought a brand-new home, there are always things to fix, and some repairs are costly. The best way to deal with this is to set up a maintenance checklist so that issues can be fixed before they get worse (and more expensive). Also, set aside some money each month so that you are not caught off guard by the unexpected. Again, the outlay is for a good cause.

5. You won't be able to do everything at once

While you may have plans for your new home, especially if you bought an older property as a fixer-upper, you need to be prepared to live with the house as it is for a while – or longer. Creating your dream home is a costly business that can take years to complete.

6. You’ll have to spend time doing things you may not enjoy

Unfortunately (or fortunately), you’re now responsible for everything in your home and will have to perform tasks that were previously taken care of by a landlord. For instance, gutters need cleaning and this should be done at least four times a year to avoid clogging which can lead to serious – and costly, damage.

7. Keep accurate records of home improvements

When you make improvements to your property, they increase your cost basis. So, when it comes time to sell, all of these costs can be used to offset your tax burden, which can be considerable if you’ve owned your property for more than a few years.

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