Congratulations – you closed on your new home! Before you spend the first night there, there are some things you have to get out of the way. To make the transition into your new home safe and enjoyable, there is some preparing, updating, and other things that must be done.
Copy and Store Housing Documents
After closing is done, make three copies of your house closing documents. Store the originals in a safety deposit box at your financial institution. Store another set in your home (preferably in a fireproof safe). Keep another copy with your home owner’s insurance provider (they may require a copy any way as they set up your coverage). You may also digitally scan and keep an electronic copy if you would like, but it will hold less weight than a physical copy if it comes time to produce the documents to a government entity. Make sure that an electronic copy is not your only copy!
Change the Locks
Replace the manual lock sets on every single door in the house. Don’t forget about exterior doors to the garage, the pool, or the shed. Check detached garages or doors to detached mother-in-law houses, too. You never know who has a set of the old keys to your home (or who the last owners gave copies to), so you want to make sure that you are the only one with access to your new house. If you want to feel extra secure, call your preferred alarm company and set up a brand new alarm system or edit the existing one to have a new passcode.
Adjust the Hot Water Heater
If you have small children in your home, turn the water temperature down to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit (or lower) to reduce the risk of unexpected bathwater burns. You never know if the people who lived in your house before you enjoyed blisteringly hot baths, so save yourself the (literal) burning surprise and make sure the hot water heater is set to a temperature that is acceptable for you and your family. This is also a great chance to inspect the hot water heater, but hopefully you already did this during your home tour.
Schedule a Deep Clean
You never know if the family that lived in your new home before you smoked (a problem if you have children), had pets (a problem if you have allergies), or was generally dirty. Schedule a professional deep clean so that your home is sanitized. This is especially important if you have carpet anywhere in the home, a swimming pool or a hot tub, a home gym area, or an HVAC unit. This is also a great time to have your central vacuum and HVAC units professionally inspected.
Update your Address
Go to the post office or the postal office website and update your address! You don’t want your mail to go to your old house after someone else moves in. Supply your employer, financial institutions, pharmacies, loan companies, insurance providers, utility providers, and any business or subscription service you frequently make payments to with your updated contact details. Thankfully, much of this work can be completed online.
Visit the Local Schools
Have kids? You should get them into their new school! Let the school districts know that your family will be moving to the area soon and that you have children who need to transfer to a new school. Your current school district will help you initiate the process by collecting pertinent paperwork from your current school as soon as you tell them that you’re relocating. Now is also a good time to prepare your kids for the big move and the school change. Soon you’ll be in your new home, so start getting them excited!
Measure Your Windows
When you have access to your new home, one of the first things you should do is measure your windows for treatments, decide what types of window treatments you want based on those measurements, and get everything ordered and professionally installed. If you don’t have time, you can hire an interior designer to conduct this work while you prepare the rest of the house. Once you move your family in, you will want privacy as you unpack, especially when night falls and anyone on the outside can see right into your new house.
Meet the Neighbors!
Go knock on the doors of your new neighbors, bring a hostess gift, and say hello! Exchange names and phone numbers, and ask about neighborhood social gatherings. If you have children, you might also ask about neighborhood play groups in the area. You never know if your new neighbors are your next new best friends unless you introduce yourself, and its always good to know that there is someone close who could watch over your kids in an emergency or your house while you’re on vacation.
Start a Home Maintenance List
Being a homeowner comes with maintaining your home. Regardless if you are planning on completing maintenance yourself or hiring a professional to do it for you, it’s important that after closing on your new home, you start a home maintenance list. You should schedule your home maintenance by season. For example, you don’t want to clean your gutters in the winter, when they could be frozen over! Do that in the summer or the fall. By keeping up on home maintenance, buyers can greatly reduce the number of huge repairs and expenses that come with deferred home maintenance.
Freshen Up the Walls and Ceilings
One of the first things most people want to do when they get a new home is repaint. Whether you choose all white walls or funky rainbow colors, you should complete any painting of walls and ceilings before the first piece of furniture or box ever enters the home. For kitchens and bathrooms, choose semi-gloss paints, as they are easiest to clean. Any other room can take any type of paint that you like. Make sure you use a primer first!
Consider an Energy Audit
If you’re buying a new construction home, an energy audit is likely unnecessary, but if you’re buying a home that others have lived in before, you want to consider one. Older homes are notorious for poor efficiency, especially if they haven’t had an energy audit in many years. You can call your local energy company and ask about this – usually they are done for low cost or free. During a home energy audit, the insulation levels, heating systems, cooling systems, and a variety of other areas and features will be inspected to see where improvements could be made.
Investigate Smart Home Technology
The possibilities seem endless when it comes to smart home tech, and the impact of smart home tech on real estate cannot be understated. You should explore the idea of smart home tech if it interests you. Perhaps you could install a thermostat you can control from your phone, a front door lock that works via fingerprint, sensors that can detect water in basements, or other smart home tech. Even if you’re wary of smart tech, it’s a good idea to at least explore the incredible technologies that are available.
Research Tax Deductions and Discounts
Many new homeowners don’t realize there are some awesome tax deductions for home buyers. After closing on a new home, explore all of the possible tax deductions and discounts available in your area, city, and state. If you don’t know where you should start, you can check with your accountant. An experienced accountant can help you understand taxes as they pertain to owning a home. You should also contact local municipalities and state offices about discounts that are available.
Set Up the Utilities
Some people don’t know that the city isn’t in charge of connecting their utilities – they are! Many utility companies have grace periods, but you can’t always assume that will be the case. The best plan is to call the utility companies and get service set up well in advance of your closing date. If they tell you they haven’t yet received cancellation notice from the seller, let the seller know to take care of that. Make sure you get this done expeditiously! You want there to be lights, gas, water, and internet when you move in, or your house will be dark, cold, and dry!
Being a homeowner is a fantastic thing, and there are things to do even after closing. As the years go by in a new home, the list of tasks can tend to grow, but owning a home is a great investment and accomplishment. One last tip – use your home inspection report as a resource. It will provide detail as to when certain things should be serviced, maintained, or replaced. Enjoy your new home!