June is National Homeownership Month! What better time to celebrate and appreciate the importance of owning a home. It’s also a good time to encourage responsible homeownership and a reminder that homeownership can help expand equity and opportunity for families, communities, and neighborhoods across the country.
In 1995, National Homeownership Week began under the Clinton administration in an effort to increase homeownership across America. In 2002, the Bush administration expanded this weeklong observance to an entire month.1 National Homeownership Month, both in 2002 and today, reminds us that owning a home can be part of achieving the American dream.
With this monthly celebration in mind, let’s look at 10 simple home maintenance tips to ensure the longevity of your home and help your property maintain its value. These can make a big difference in the upkeep of your home over time!
- Regularly inspect and clean gutters: Gutters play a vital role in directing rainwater away from your home. Clogged gutters can lead to water damage, foundation issues, and even pest infestations. Clean your gutters at least twice a year, in spring and fall, and inspect them periodically to ensure they are in good condition. Many homeowners pay to have their gutters cleaned and this can range from $100-$300.2
- Check for leaks: Water leaks can cause significant damage if left unattended. Regularly check for leaks in your plumbing system, including faucets, toilets, and pipes. Fixing leaks promptly can save you money on your water bill and prevent further damage to your home. If you aren’t comfortable checking for leaks on your own, professional leak detection costs around $100 on average.3
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are essential for early fire detection and gas leaks and can save lives. Test your detectors monthly and replace batteries at least once a year. If your smoke or carbon monoxide detectors are more than ten years old, consider replacing them. You can find 2-in-1 smoke and carbon monoxide detectors anywhere between $10-$75.4
- Clean and service your HVAC system: Proper maintenance of your heating, ventilation, and/or air conditioning (HVAC) system is vital for energy efficiency and indoor air quality. Clean or replace air filters regularly and schedule professional HVAC maintenance at least once a year to ensure optimal performance. Typical HVAC maintenance by a professional can range from $75-$200.5
- Trim trees and shrubs: Overgrown trees and shrubs can damage your home’s exterior, block sunlight, and create a haven for pests. Regularly trim branches away from your house and remove any dead or diseased trees. This will enhance the curb appeal of your home and minimize the risk of damage. Not comfortable trimming your own trees? You’re not alone! The average cost for tree trimming is $460.6
- Seal gaps and cracks: Inspect your home for gaps and cracks, both on the interior and exterior. Use caulk or weatherstripping to seal gaps around windows and doors, and fill larger cracks with an appropriate filler. This will improve energy efficiency and prevent pests from entering your home. You can complete these tasks yourself, or enlist the help of a loved one, neighbor, or handyman.
- Clean and maintain your outdoor spaces: Your outdoor spaces, such as decks, patios, and driveways, also require regular maintenance. Clean them thoroughly, repair any cracks or damages, and apply sealant or stain as needed. This will extend their lifespan and keep them looking their best. For assistance with these tasks, the average rate for a handyman is around $50-$80 per hour.7
- Schedule regular pest control: Pest infestations can cause significant damage to your home and pose health risks. Consider scheduling regular pest control treatments to prevent infestations and address any existing issues promptly. Keep your home clean and decluttered to minimize pest attractants. Monthly pest control fees range from $30-$50.8
- Inspect and maintain your roof: Your roof protects your home from the elements, so it is essential to keep it in good condition. Inspect your roof regularly for missing or damaged shingles, leaks, or signs of wear and tear. If you notice any issues, the cost for a professional roofer to make minor repairs ranges between $150-$400. For major repairs the cost can go up to $7,000. Nationally, average roof repair cost is around $950.9
- Create a maintenance schedule: To stay on top of home maintenance tasks, create a schedule or checklist to ensure you address them regularly. Set reminders for tasks such as replacing air filters, cleaning gutters, or testing smoke detectors. A proactive approach to home maintenance can save you time, money, and stress in the long run.
These tips are a great way to help avoid needing major home repairs down the road, but some things are out of our control. Over time, homes need updates, and these updates can often go beyond our own abilities and for many, beyond our budgets. Making modifications and renovations to your home to help keep it safe and comfortable as you age is a critical part of homeownership – and a major financial commitment. Currently, older Americans have over $12 trillion10 in equity tied up in their homes. Financial tools like reverse mortgage loans can be a solution for accessing your equity and investing back into your home.
A reverse mortgage is a specially designed loan for senior homeowners and works by allowing you to convert a portion of your home’s equity into cash without having to sell the home. Unlike a traditional mortgage where you must begin repaying the loan right away, with a reverse mortgage you don’t have to repay funds received through a reverse mortgage until after you leave the home. And better yet, there are no monthly mortgage payments required so long as you continue to maintain the home and stay current on your property taxes and insurance.
Income tax-free11 cash from a reverse mortgage can be used however you like, including funding major repairs, modifications, or renovations to allow you to age in place. These funds can also offset in-home care costs to avoid moving to a senior community or assisted living facility. Proceeds from a reverse mortgage can be accessed as a lump sum, monthly disbursements, or as a standby line of credit12 for emergencies, like plumbing issues or unexpected medical bills. You can also choose to receive funds using a combination of these options.
A lesser-known but powerful option is using a reverse mortgage to “right-size” your retirement by purchasing a new home better suited to your evolving lifestyle. A reverse for purchase helps you accomplish two goals with a single transaction – buying a new home while securing a reverse mortgage. Many seniors like this option because it can help save money by reducing closing costs since a single loan is taken out, plus you get all the advantages of a reverse mortgage loan.
National Homeownership Month serves as a reminder of the joy and responsibility that comes with owning a home. By following these easy home maintenance tips, you can protect your investment, maintain the value of your property, and ensure a safe and comfortable living environment. At Longbridge Financial, we understand the financial responsibility that comes homeownership. That’s why we’re committed to responsibly helping homeowners reshape their financial future by educating them on reverse mortgage loans and The Power of Home.™
We’ve helped thousands of seniors reshape their financial futures and retain their homeownership by tapping into their home equity. Contact us today to see how we can help!