Clare R. Okyere
Yay, You Bought a House! Now What?
Updated: Jun 7, 2021
You have successfully become a homeowner. Congratulations! Now what? Here are 14 essential items to take care of during your first year of homeownership.
Turn on utilities: As a new home owner, you will need to set up your utilities in your name. The essentials, power and water, should be first. You will also want to set up phone, internet, cable, and any other subscription services you will want active at your new address. The sooner you get these essentials up and running, the sooner you can start settling into your new home.
Inspect any delivered boxes/items: We know moving can be hectic. It is not uncommon for new homeowners to set boxes aside with the intention of unpacking only to come back to them weeks (or months!) down the line. If you used a delivery company, try to fight the urge to procrastinate in this area! Be sure to inspect any delivered items and boxes to ensure the contents arrived in satisfactory condition. If not, address it immediately with the moving company. If too much time passes before you notice a concern, it will likely be too late for the company to correct the issue in any way.
Ensure your home is secure: Within the first day or so, you will want to change the locks on your new home to ensure no one can access your home unless you have given them a key. You will also want to make sure all windows lock, and that the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and have new batteries.
Unpack essentials first: Once you have inspected items to ensure they arrived safely, it is time to start unpacking. Start with the essentials! Unpack the boxes you need first - kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom essentials are likely priority, as well as anything you need for children and/or pets. Once the essentials are in place, you can slowly unpack the rest of the items with time. A move may even help you declutter, as many of the items that stay boxed the longest may not be needed after all (channel your inner Marie Kondo to decide!)
Locate fuse box and water main: Within the first week, be sure all adults in your household know the location of the fuse box and water main. In case of an emergency, learn how to shut off your water main and reset the fuse box. As homeowner, there is no landlord to call in case of emergency, so you want to be sure to familiarize yourself with these essential items.
Update your address: Be sure to update your address with the post office and MVD (you'll need to register your vehicle and update your license with your new address). You will also want to update your address with any institutions that send you mail: doctors, schools, employers, subscription services, etc. Of course, you'll also want to send out the info to family and friends as well.
Meet your neighbors: Once you've settled in, be sure to get to know your neighbors and your new neighborhood. Dropping off a little card, treat, or gift is a great way to say hello. Taking walks is also a wonderful way to meet neighbors as they are out and about. Knowing your neighbors helps you feel welcome and safe in your new neighborhood, so be sure to invest some time in this area once you move in.
Find health care providers and services in your new area: You'll want to research great doctors, dentists, gyms, restaurants, etc. in your neighborhood. That way, when you need them you will know exactly where to go.
Increase your knowledge/stockpile of tools and find a reliable handyman: You will want to have a set of basic tools and know how to use these items for small repairs and home projects. Unless you are Mr. or Mrs. Fix-it, there will likely be some times where a handyman is needed to help with small jobs or repairs around the house. It is better to find a reliable and trustworthy source now versus when it is an emergency. Ask your neighbors for recommendations. There are also helpful sites like NextDoor or Angie's List that can recommend people in your area. That way, when you reach a project that is beyond what you are able to do, you already have a trustworthy person to call for assistance.
Keep all your warranties/manuals: As a new homeowner, you will inherit many product and appliance manuals. Be sure to look through them and activate any warranties that require you to do so. Keep all the manuals in a safe place to reference as needed for future repairs and service.
Create a schedule for routine maintenance: Your home is an investment, and the better you maintain it the more it will increase in value over the years. Regular maintenance like routine cleaning, changing air filters monthly, cleaning the lint trap and dryer vent, regular yard care, etc. will help keep your home in the best shape possible. Setting reminders for these routine items help to ensure you don't fall behind.
Use your home inspection to prioritize and plan for larger repairs: The home inspection from your purchase will help you anticipate upcoming repairs. Use this information to prioritize the most urgent repairs, and tackle items one at a time. This will help you manage your time and your budget as you take care of your new home.
Identify potential issues early: Be mindful of your home. Spotting any potential problems early could pay off big time in repair costs. Do proactive research on the signs of a roof leak, foundation issues, and basement leaks/flooding as these can lead to very costly repairs. If you see any of the warning signs for these items, be sure to address them right away before they turn into a major (and expensive!) problem.
Keep in touch with your mortgage professional: A good mortgage professional will help you keep track of market rates and your home's equity. Down the line, they can provide you the information to determine if a refinance, cash out, or rate reduction might help you to lower your monthly payment, save money over the life of your home loan, and/or pay off your mortgage faster. Checking in every year or so ensures you aren't missing any opportunities that may help you reach your financial goals.
Have another tip for new homeowners? Let us know! Your advice might be featured in an upcoming blog and help future homeowners.
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.