3 Money-Saving Hacks for New Homeowners

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  • As we ease back to a buyer's market, buyers will have more leverage -- ask for what you want.
  • Get to know your home's "personality" before remodeling.
  • Focus on utility costs to save over the long term.

Planning ahead makes it possible to enjoy your new home while saving money.

You've found a house you like and can afford. You've even landed a mortgage you're happy with. Now comes the fun part -- making the new home your own. Between your down payment, closing costs, and moving expenses, it's possible you won't have much left by the time you move in. Fortunately, there are things you can do to save money as you rebuild your bank account. 

1. Ask and you (may) receive

As you undoubtedly know, the past two and a half years have been a seller's market. With homes being snapped up within hours of hitting the market and offers well over the asking price, it's been tough for some home buyers to land a house of their own.

There are signs the housing market is cooling, thanks in part to interest rate hikes introduced by the Federal Reserve. As the market cools, more homeowners will be forced to lower their asking price or throw in perks to sweeten the deal.

Anything you can convince the homeowner to leave behind is one less thing you have to purchase yourself. If you find yourself without (much) competition, go ahead and ask the seller to leave some of the things you need. Request anything you can use, including the washer and dryer, refrigerator (if they're not already leaving it), patio furniture, or removable storage units. 

You never know. The seller may be moving into a smaller space, and leaving items behind will make their move easier. 

2. Reuse and save

Homes are a little like people or pets. Each has a personality of its own. As tempted as you may be to change wall colors, lighting, appliances, and flooring as soon as you move in, give yourself time to get to know the house. 

Let's say you move into a house in August, sure you know what color you want the walls to be. Winter rolls around and shorter days reveal which rooms could use a lighter shade of paint or wallpaper. By waiting to fully make a home your own, you accomplish two things:

  1. You have a better sense of what the house looks like during each season and what it needs.
  2. You give yourself more time to sock money away in your bank account -- money you may one day decide to use on the house. 

If you absolutely need something to fill a space, like a sofa or an area rug, consider buying something gently used until you know for sure what you want there.  

3. Save on utilities

Utilities are one of those monthly expenses that can hit you like raw shellfish. Before making an offer on a home, ask to see a few months' worth of utility bills. In some areas of the country, heating costs are through the roof, while in others, water is shockingly expensive. It's better to know about these expenses before you move in. That way, have time to create a plan to minimize the cost. 

Whether you install a smart thermostat, a water monitoring system, or new insulation, every little bit helps. After all, you'll appreciate your new home more if you leave yourself enough money to do the things you enjoy. 

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