Real estate is typically a person’s biggest investment. So why not invest some time in repair and maintenance?

2013-03-16T00:00:00Z Real estate is typically a person’s biggest investment. So why not invest some time in repair and maintenance?by Bettina Chang CTW Features
March 16, 2013 12:00 am  • 

According to a recent survey conducted by HomeAdvisor, online home repair and improvement resource, more than half of U.S. homeowners (53 percent) do not perform annual maintenance on their homes.

Additionally, 77 percent of bill-paying U.S. homeowners are at least somewhat concerned about their high energy bills.

That’s a bad combination, because annual maintenance and repairs “have a direct reflection on your utility bill,” says Amy Matthews, licensed general contractor and television host for DIY Network. “I encourage people to understand and be familiar with their home’s mechanical systems. Especially for first-time homebuyers, it can be intimidating.”

Only 18 percent of homeowners said they were “very confident” in understanding their home’s annual maintenance needs, the survey shows.

Homebuyer should account for maintenance and utility bills in their budgets: “Ask the real estate agent to get you information on the cost of operations for the house,” Matthews recommends.

To ensure there’s money saved up for unexpected costs or repairs, “look at what you’re paying per month and put away 10 percent of all your utility bills,” says Matthews, who also serves as HomeAdvisor’s home improvement expert. You can also do some research to find out the cost of a basic service call for major appliances, then try to keep that money in a rainy day fund.

As for important maintenance tasks, she recommends that homeowners get their roofs checked seasonally and after inclement weather. Also, remember to change furnace filters, clean the gutters, check smoke alarm batteries and install weather stripping. Otherwise, “[Homeowners] are setting themselves up for potentially spending a load of money for repairs and breakdowns,” she says.

She also recommends scheduling these tasks on a calendar so people don’t forget when they were performed last: “Nowadays, most everyone has smartphones. You have a calendar for everything else in your life, why not put maintenance on a calendar?”

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