8 Strategies for Maintaining a Home as an Asset

High-profile bank failures offer lessons worth sharing with your clients and customers.

Key takeaways:

  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation takeover of Silicon Valley and First Republic banks is a reminder of how critical it is to strategically manage assets—including a home. 
  • Real estate professionals play a key role in educating homeowners about how to manage their home as an asset. 
  • This article offers eight tips to share with homeowners, from keeping up with regular maintenance to communicating with their lender to documenting all records related to their home.

The high-profile failures of Silicon Valley Bank and First Republic Bank are an object lesson on the importance of managing one’s assets. Companies, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, who had more than $170 billion stored at SVB, were left scrambling to access their money for 72 hours until the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation stepped in to ensure that depositors would be made whole.

Bloomberg reported that 97% of SVB’s deposits were uninsured because they were above the $250,000 limit which the FDIC insures. That fact should be a wake-up call for homeowners, who have seen the median price of homes increase 110% over the past decade, according to NAR data. Homeownership represents a significant investment of time and money and the biggest asset many people own. And just like bank owners and their depositors, homeowners must manage their assets strategically to ensure long-term sustainability.

You can help your clients get on the path to sustainable homeownership by sharing these eight asset management and risk mitigation strategies that banks follow—and that also apply to good stewardship of a home.

  1. Maintain the asset. Through regular maintenance and repairs, homeowners ensure their home continues to serve the intended purpose. Keeping up with routine maintenance tasks like cleaning gutters, inspecting the roof and servicing HVAC systems can help prevent costly repairs down the line and ensure that the home stays in good condition.
  2. Increase value.  Renovations and upgrades not only improve an owner’s enjoyment but can increase the value of the home. Provided the owners have kept good records (see point 8, “Document everything”), they can also use improvement to increase the property’s tax basis. That’s important for sellers who have seen big run-ups in value and want to minimize their tax liability when they sell. The National Association of REALTORS®’ Remodeling Impact Report shows which remodeling projects are likely to have the most value at resale.
  3. Consider insurance options. Like deposit insurance, homeowner's insurance has limits. Homeowners should reevaluate their coverage each year to be sure they’re adequately covered for replacement costs. They may also want to explore other risk-management options, such as security systems and impact-resistant roofing products that can reduce their insurance costs and further protect their home.
  4. Have a contingency plan. Homeowners should have a plan in place in case of a fiscal crisis or unexpected event that could affect their ability to pay their mortgage. This includes having emergency savings, a budget and a plan for managing debt.
  5. Communicate with lenders. When it comes to managing a mortgage, homeowners should make timely payments and consider refinancing if interest rates drop or their credit score improves. They should also maintain open communication with their lender and inform the lender of any changes in their financial situation that could affect their ability to make mortgage payments. Additionally, it's important for owners to be aware of the terms of the mortgage and to avoid taking on too much debt or borrowing against the equity in the home without careful consideration.
  6. Seek professional advice. In addition to working with a REALTOR® when they buy or sell, homeowners should seek professional advice from financial advisors, mortgage brokers and other experts to help them manage their asset and make informed decisions.
  7. Keep track of your assets. A home is not just a place to live but also an asset that can appreciate over time. Homeowners should regularly assess the value of their home and keep track of any changes that could affect its value. This includes monitoring changes in the local housing market, interest rates and property taxes.
  8. Document everything. Recordkeeping is core to the service that banks provide, and it’s essential for homeowners, too. From the moment of purchase, owners should keep all the documents, records and transactions from their home, including details and costs of renovations and upgrades that can be added to their tax basis (see point 2, “Increase value”).

Bank failures are a cautionary reminder of the importance of strategic asset management. Just like banks—and the companies, entrepreneurs and investors who park their money in banks—homeowners need to take a proactive approach to maintenance, upgrades and financial management. By taking these steps, owners help ensure that their home remains a source of long-term financial stability and security for themselves and their family.