Maybe you’ve just left the closing on your first home with the key in your hand and are rewarded by walking through an empty house where you will build your future from a clean slate. Congratulations! But before you pound in a nail to hang your first picture there are some things that you want to do before you move in and other things that you want to do shortly after moving in.
- Make sure all the utilities are still turned on including the water, electricity, garbage collection, and natural gas. Some may need to be activated such as cable TV and internet. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Start getting to know your new home by locating the main water shut-off valve, electricity circuit box, and gas shut-off valve. The best water shut off valve can be bought at watercritics.com.
- Change the locks on the doors because you don’t know how many keys the previous owner handed out and to who. The same goes for changing codes on all keypads, starting with the garage door. If there is a home security system, the previous owner probably discontinued the service, and you need to reactivate it.
- Scan and store that big pile of documents from closing the sale and everything related in a safe place, such as a fireproof safe and/or secure online location. Do you need to update your will now that you are a homeowner?
- Doing a deep cleaning will never be easier than before you move in your furniture. The previous owners were busy with their own move and probably didn’t do any more cleaning than the required “broom-clean” condition. This includes some basic maintenance to replace HVAC and water filters. You may also consider installing a new water filtration system. This is also the time to begin creating your annual maintenance list. Go over the home inspection report that you paid for to see if there are things you want to take care of right away.
- If you want to do some painting, it will be much easier with empty rooms.
- You want to immediately file a change of address with your previous post office but also notify important people and companies about your new address.
- Friends and relatives
- Financial institutions, including billing for things such as credit cards and car payments
- Insurance companies (look into bundling car, home, and other insurance). Do you need to document your belongings for your new homeowners’ insurance policy?
- Medical offices – dentist, physician
- Update your driver’s license.
- Voter registration
- Online/e-commerce retailers
- Delivery and rideshare apps
- Meet The Neighbors. Don’t wait for a “Welcome Wagon” to show up at your door. Not only is meeting the neighbors the “neighborly” thing to do, but it’s also a good opportunity to exchange contact information with them in the event of an emergency. Maybe invite them to a “housewarming party” in a couple of weeks. Often, the best security for a home is the surrounding neighbors!
- Time to unpack your boxes one by one. Put things away. If you hired movers, this is also a good time to make sure nothing is missing or broken. If you find out something is, contact your moving company to determine who is liable. Pass on your empty moving boxes to someone else that is moving or recycle them.
- Fill out your local government “homestead” form. Each state/county has certain homestead exceptions that give you a reduction in the assessed value of your home. This can save you quite a bit of money on property taxes. You just need to let them know you live there. Homestead exceptions are typically given to veterans, low-income, and senior citizens, to name a few.
- If your home is more than a few years old, consider having an energy audit performed.
It’s been an incredible amount of work, but your reward is the amazing feeling of being a homeowner of a great investment. As you get to know your new home better, continue adding to the annual maintenance list. Most maintenance is done seasonally. Go over the home inspection report again to be sure everything has been taken care of. With a little TLC and maintenance, you’ll enjoy your new home for many years to come as it grows in value as an investment.
Please leave your comments for a move-in checklist.
Also, our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions, inquiries, or article ideas to email@example.com.