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Young couple hugging in their new home.

A Checklist Of What To Do First In Your New House

Carey Chesney3-Minute Read
January 23, 2020

So you’ve found the house of your dreams – or at least the one you want for now. What a sense of joy and relief! Buying a house is one of the most exciting things we get to do in life but, let’s be real, it’s exhausting. What’s more, the focus and energy needed to find the right one often means we put thinking about what to do after buying a house to the wayside. So, as you sit at the closing table and start to imagine all the possibilities for your new home, here are some helpful facts and a checklist of things to do after moving in.

Can You Move Into A House The Day Of Closing?

Let’s start right from the closing table. Those new keys are dangling in front of you and excitement is in the air, so can you head on over to the new place and move in right away? Usually, yes. Most transactions are structured so ownership and occupancy is transferred the day of closing, and the previous owners have likely already moved all of their things out. However, there are other scenarios where you need to wait a bit. For example, sometimes the previous owners need to stay in the house and essentially rent it from you – the new owner – until it’s time to leave. If you have gone this route, it has all been agreed upon well ahead of time and the silver lining is that you get a few more months before you have to worry about that new mortgage payment!

What Documents Do You Get After Buying A House?

Quite a few, actually. And it can vary depending on each case, but here are a few of the standard documents you will get before or at closing:

  • Final closing documents
  • Survey of the property
  • Property inspection report
  • Mortgage documents
  • Insurance documents

These are important reference pieces you may need later, so make sure you store them in a safe place – like a fireproof safe for paper copies or a cloud for electronic copies.

What’s The First Thing To Do When Moving Into A New House?

To put your mind at ease, the first thing to do is set up auto pay for your mortgage and other bills so there’s no risk of being late. Wondering what to do if you miss a mortgage payment, gas bill, water bill, etc. is a worrisome distraction that takes away from all the fun new home decisions, like where to put in that new hot tub! Speaking of bills, make sure the gas, electric and water bills are in your name, and transfer cable and internet if you previously had it, or start up a new service if it’s your first time.

Checklist: What To Do After You Buy A House

OK, now let’s move on to the actual house. While it’s easy to dive right into picking out new curtains or researching which floating cup holders to get for that hot tub, there are a few more critical things to buy for a new house first. Additionally, there are some key items already in the house to identify and learn about right away. Here’s a handy checklist to get you going:

  1. Change the locks. You picked a great neighborhood and the previous owners seem lovely, but you should still be the only one with keys to your house. Change the codes on the garage doors too you don’t know how many friends and relatives of the previous owner have it stored in their memory.
  2. Find the shut-off devices for electrical, water and gas. Searching for these things in an emergency is, let’s just say, not ideal.
  3. Check the fire and carbon monoxide detectors. Keeping you and your family safe in your new house is job one, and replacing faulty safety equipment is not something you want to skip over. You should also make sure a fire extinguisher is present and visible on every floor of the home.
  4. Check the temperature of your water heater. This is especially important for families with kids, as you don’t want bath time to start with a scalding.
  5. Use your inspection report as a master “to-do” list. Prioritize the items your inspector found starting with “must haves immediately” and ending with “nice to haves eventually.” You don’t have to do it all right away –with the exception of safety concerns –but having this reference list to go back to periodically will be really useful.
  6. Create a schedule for maintaining your home. A good inspection will leave you with a working understanding of the house’s key components as well as information on how to care for them. Create a schedule using this information and keep it handy. Include everything you can, from monthly tasks like checking the smoke alarms to seasonal projects like cleaning the gutters. 

With all that slightly boring –but essential –stuff out of the way, you will be ready to pick out new paint colors, splurge on new furniture and dive right into getting all the fun accessories that will transform a house into your home!

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    Carey Chesney

    Carey Chesney brings a wealth of real estate sales and marketing experience to his buyers and sellers as they navigate highly competitive markets. Carey and his wife Ilze work together as Realtors® in Michigan.