You have just completed one of the biggest financial transactions of your life and can now call yourself a “homeowner.” With the help of a realtor, like me, you purchased your first home, you’ve signed all the necessary paperwork and are about to walk up to your new front door, keys in hand.
As you walk through your new house, you are probably thinking, now what? This is a common question that new homeowners ask themselves when the time comes to settling into a new home. With all the excitement and work involved in finding a property, buyers might not have a transition plan or a checklist for the first few days of ownership.
Some checklist items are as simple as steam cleaning the carpets and doing a deep clean while others involve familiarizing yourself with your home’s circuit breakers and water valves, and some might include finding out about the homeowners’ association rules. Having a game plan for your new property will give you peace of mind and allow you to settle in quickly and stress free.
Here’s a few to focus on:
Set-up service. This may not sound like a top priority, but it is important to contact local utilities and service providers to set-up a new account and avoid disruption. This should be done in advance to closing. Call them and have the utilities transferred effective the date of closing. And don’t forget to change your address with the post office! Your realtor should provide you with the list of utility companies in your area. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the pick-up schedule for trash and recyclables to avoid garbage stacking up during the first week in your new home—especially when you have a ton of boxes to unpack!
Change the locks. You never know who else has keys to your home. So, it is a good idea to change the locks on all doors, or if they are touch-key locks, change the combinations. This will help you sleep at night knowing that you are the only person who has access to your home. You can install new deadbolts yourself for less or call a locksmith to ensure proper installation.
Know the circuit breaker. It is a good idea to figure out which fuses control what parts of your house and label them accordingly. You will need two people for this exercise: one person monitoring the power as it goes on and off and the other tripping the fuse in order to test the breakers.
Do any improvement or repairs before moving in. It is soooo much easier to paint, remove popcorn ceilings, refinish hardwood floors, etc. without furniture or people in the house. It’s also easier to clean up. Whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring a pro, save yourself the headache by doing it before you move in if you can.
Buy the right tools. It is likely you own the basic tools, such as a drill, screwdriver, hammer, level and tape measure. Yet, homeownership might require a few new ones you might not have needed before, such as a pry bar for removing nails, trim or tiles and a ratchet set for adjusting nuts and bolts in hard-to-reach places. When hanging pictures or shelving on the walls, be sure to have a stud sensor handy to detect studs, cables and ducts.
Plan for Emergencies. Get your list of reputable vendors together complete with emergency contact information such as a plumber, electrician, HVAC company, handymen, etc. When an emergency strikes, you’ll have their info at your fingertips. Ask your neighbors and your realtor for recommendations.
Use your home inspection. This is a great tool to use to plan future upgrades and improvements. Make a list of what items the inspector noted as needing attention or are close to needing to be replaced i.e., roof, HVAC system, water heater, etc. For big ticket items, you can start your plan to be able to cover the costs.
Create a Seasonal Maintenance Checklist. Include items such as when to test the smoke detectors, clean gutters, dryer vents, and ceiling fans, when to fertilize the lawn, etc. Making the list and putting it on your calendar will keep your home in good, working condition.
When you are new to homeownership, the list of responsibilities can feel overwhelming at first. But with the help of a realtor, like me, you can be sure to transition into a new home in a smooth and hassle-free fashion.
If you have questions or are interested in selling or buying a home, call me – I’m here to help! Call me, 850-374-0454 or send me an email, Gail.Pelto@KW.com.
Gail Pelto is a full-time real estate agent with Keller Williams and a board member with both the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation and The Rotary Club of Destin. If you have questions about real estate, call her at (850) 374-0454.