Congratulations, you are the proud new owner of your very own home! This is the single biggest and most important purchase you will ever make. It’s a rite of passage that you should be incredibly proud of completing, whether it’s your first or third home purchase. Finding the perfect home is never easy and likely has taken many hours of research and showings with your realtor, but you made it across the finish line. Well done! But your work isn’t done quite yet because now it’s time to tackle some important homeowner tasks. Let me help you with your checklist!
Make copies of all documents
The first thing you should do after closing on your new house is make copies of all of your closing documents. Though your county’s record clerk should have a copy, it’s best to keep a copy for yourself as well. My husband and I keep a copy of ours in a fireproof safe. If you don’t have a fireproof safe, get yourself a safe deposit box and keep your closing documents there. Remember, if you’re a first-time homebuyer, these documents are probably some of the most valuable papers you’ve ever held, so be vigilant in keeping them secure.
Contact your local property records office
As mentioned above, your county’s record clerk should have copies of your closing documents. About two weeks after closing, however, you should still contact your local property records office to confirm that they have officially recorded your deed. Having this record is important as it is public notice of your homeownership.
Change the locks
Before you are handed your new house keys, it’s likely that they were in the hands of tons of realtors, prospective buyers and previous owners, just to name a few. To avoid strangers gaining access, be sure to have all the locks changed, including the garage, back and side doors.
Set up your utilities
This step seems obvious, but even if you haven’t moved into your new house yet, you need to make sure that all of the utilities are turned on and in your name. If you’ve lived in your current house for awhile, it may have been years since you’ve had to update these so make sure it doesn’t fall off your list. Household utilities can include everything from electricity to gas to water to Internet.
Clean and paint
Now the fun starts! Previous owners usually will not deep clean before they move out and may do the bare minimum. Before you move in, it’s a great idea to hire a cleaner to scrub the house from top to bottom, including steam-cleaning carpets, ceiling fans and baseboards. While you’re at it, if any rooms need painting, take advantage of them being empty and paint as well. If you deep clean the carpets and you still aren’t satisfied, you can replace them with hardwood flooring, too. Having no furniture in the house makes the floor part a breeze!
Be sure to photograph or video everything and label all circuit breakers. Having records (e.g. photographs and video of your home when you purchased it) is important in case of unexpected loss like fire or water damage. Having pictures of what the home looked like when you bought it will help you restore your home to its original condition. Be sure to keep the photographs and video in a fireproof safe or somewhere out of your home, like a safe deposit box or cloud storage.
Add numbers to your phone
You may find your phonebook getting a little thicker once you purchase a home. It is always a good idea to add your insurance company, warranty company and locksmith to your phone contacts as soon as possible in case of emergency.
Meet your neighbors
Once you move in, do your best to meet your neighbors. Start with the ones directly next to you, then go for the ones behind and across the street. Exchange your contact information for theirs in case anything happens and either party needs to be contacted.
Move in and start decorating
This is my favorite part. After the above duties are complete, you get to be creative and turn your new space into your home. If you are moving in with your significant other and haven’t lived together before, take inventory of your belongings. You’ll need to decide on styles and what you want together as a couple. It’s sometimes difficult to blend your personal style with someone else’s, but relationships are all about compromise, so blending your likes will be essential for this process. When deciding what should stay and what should go, each of you should keep or donate or sell an equal amount of stuff. If you have lived in your current house for years but are ready for a design overhaul, consider selling most of your belongings before you move to make the process that much lighter for you.
Now to the most important task: celebrating and enjoying your new home!