You’ve made it through making the offer, the home inspection, the mortgage process, and the closing, you might think it’s time to kick back, relax and enjoy your new place.
Don’t get too complacent, though. Moving into a new home means you’ll need to take some immediate action to make sure you’ll be a successful homeowner. Here are some of the first things to do when you buy a new home.
1. Secure your home
One of the first things you should do when you buy a house is to change the locks and garage codes. You don’t want the previous homeowners to have the ability to enter your home.
The cost to change locks can vary based on the level of security, complexity of the lock and whether you choose to hire a professional locksmith or do it yourself. If your home comes with an alarm system, you’ll likely need to pay to reconnect service — or choose a new provider. Ask for the instruction manuals and codes for any electronic systems, like home alarms and garage codes, and make it a priority to change the codes to new codes that only you will know. If the manuals are not available, you might be able to find reprogramming instructions online.
If you are going to put off getting new locks for your home, look around outside and inside for any spare keys the previous owner may have left around. Homeowners often hide them somewhere and then forget about them. They can be under large rocks or in the door frame.
2. Purchase or review your home warranty
Some homebuyers receive a home warranty purchased by the seller to cover the home’s major systems or appliances. After all, the last thing a buyer wants to deal with is a broken dishwasher or HVAC unit. If you received a home warranty, it’s a good time to review the specifics, so you’ll know what’s covered and how to file a claim. If you don’t have one, consider purchasing one, even after closing.
Shop around for the best deal on a home warranty and find one that’s tailored to your needs. For example, you might want to get coverage on big-ticket items, such as the water heater, furnace, air conditioning unit and kitchen appliances. The price of these plans will vary based on the size of the home and the plan selected. Home warranties range in cost from about $350 to $600, depending on coverage and the length of the contract. At RE/MAX Capitol Properties we have relationships with home warranty programs, so ask us for a recommendation if you need one.
3. Connect the utilities
It’s smart to connect all your must-have utilities — like water, gas, and electricity — before you move in. This will help pave the way for a smooth move-in process and ensure you have the essential necessities as you’re getting settled in.
Plan ahead! Depending on your neighborhood and local service providers, there can be hoops to jump through to connect utilities. Check with your local providers to determine the process, what type of ownership or residence verification you need, and how far in advance you should schedule turn-on. Our local providers are BOPU and Black Hills Energy.
4. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
To help ensure you and your family are safe in your new home, make sure all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working condition. This may include installing fresh batteries or replacing entire units. Smoke detectors should ideally be placed in a hallway leading to your bedrooms. Fires are most likely to start from your kitchen or your laundry room, so it’s a good idea to place smoke detectors there too. If you live in a home with multiple floors, make sure there’s at least one smoke detector on each floor.
Most home safety experts recommend checking and changing the batteries in your detectors every six months. If you keep a family calendar, it’s easy to set a reminder. Check with your local fire department to see if they offer free inspections and testing.
5. Use your inspection report as a to-do list for maintenance
After you buy a house, address any issues that were flagged on the home inspection report that the seller wasn’t required to fix. Using the home inspection report as a guide, make a list of things to repair, update or maintain for the future, ranking them from most to least urgent. You’ll want to address items that can potentially cause problems later, such as dirty gutters, leaky pipes or doors and windows that need to be resealed.
Regular maintenance is critical to keeping any home running in tip-top shape. Putting in the sweat equity to maintain your home — or paying a pro to do it for you — prevents costly repair headaches later. A well-maintained home can also command a higher sale price when you’re ready to sell.
Create a home maintenance checklist that’s realistic for your household. Budget for those tasks each year, as well as unexpected repairs. The general rule is to save a minimum of 1 percent of the home’s purchase price each year for repairs. You might decide to hire pros to handle some of these tasks, so factor that into your budget, too.