Congratulations on your new home!
After all the stress of looking for your dream home, the seemingly endless paperwork, the hustle and bustle of moving in a flurry of cardboard boxes, what now? Other than finding the fastest commute to work and the best coffee shop, of course.
First up is safety.
No matter how great the neighborhood is, in any new home it’s a good idea to make a few updates to protect your family and belongings.
Step one, change the locks. You can call a locksmith, or head over to your local hardware or home improvement store. There is quite a selection, in all colors and styles, and now there are even electronic options you can operate from your phone. Choose what works for you, and make sure you have everything you need (think: screws, screwdriver, etc!) to install the new locks before you start taking apart the old one.
Second step, check the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. If you don’t see any it is very important to get some – there are plenty at the hardware store. Owning your home might mean you get really familiar with that store, so it doesn’t hurt to be friendly with your local hardware store employees. Also keep in mind that there are some security systems that feature smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors built into the system itself. Which leads us to…
Step three, security. For some, this means a professional installation from a big brand while for others it’s a DIY install. Some people just want the peace of mind of a few cameras and maybe a floodlight or two. A monitored system does have a lot of perks, so be sure to check out what is offered in your area. Even something as simple as smart outlets to put your lights on a timer can be an effective theft deterrent. It’s also convenient for children and pets who may be home without you while you explore your new neighborhood. One favorite security feature is the Ring doorbell camera system.
Next, it’s time to make some updates to your personal accounts. Specifically, changing your address. Your utilities companies, your bank, your insurance carrier, your cell phone provider. It can be overwhelming, but it helps to save the important pieces of paper or paperless mail from your previous address for at least the last 30 days. And, while “important” is a relative term, less of the restaurant flyers and more of the bank, credit card and insurance statements. The US Postal Service has a form you can fill out online to have your mail forwarded to you as well.
You also need to make sure to update your drivers license and vehicle registration, especially if you are moving to a new state. Every state has their own rules for this, so contact your local DMV office to make an appointment.
If you haven’t already, now is also the time to make sure your homeowners insurance policy is set up. Most lenders require a policy as part of closing, but if you weren’t required to carry one, it’s still a good thing to look into. While you’re at it, look into any existing home warranties. If the appliances were included and weren’t brand new, it’s hard to predict when something may go wrong. If there is no warranty in place or being transferred to you, there are some options online, it all depends on the type of home and your area.
You’ve made the safety updates to your new home, now comes the fun part – making it feel like yours. Whether it’s new lamps, a coat of paint, or finally getting that rocking chair on the front porch, this is part where you get to customize to your style.
Sometimes you have to live in a new place for a while to discover its quirks, and learn they just are not for you. Maybe it’s the insane amount of sunlight that hits your TV in just the wrong spot, or the kitchen faucet that just doesn’t flow right. Now you get to look into customizing your new home and adding your own touches. You can add luxurious floor length blackout curtains to your living room, or a new brushed nickel faucet to the farmhouse style sink. Maybe you want to replace every single light fixture with a ceiling fan. You can buy these online or go back to that handy dandy local hardware store you’ve become a regular at and change everything out yourself.
If you aren’t quite feeling up to the task of do-it-yourself, you can hire a local handyman, plumber, or electrician to help bring your vision to life while you relax in your new home. If you don’t know where to start to find these people, and online searches can be overwhelming, check with the locals. Many cities and counties have online bulletin boards, or you can go old-school and ask in person in the Chamber of Commerce or a local networking association. They can usually point you in the right direction for professionals like plumbers, electricians, contractors, and landscapers. Sometimes even asking on the NextDoor site will yield local, useful, and reliable help from right in your neighborhood! You know that luscious lawn you fell for? Someone needs to put in the elbow grease to keep it that way, and not everyone has the time or inclination to do it themselves. Ask if they offer a free quote or estimate, as you’ll find that most companies do. Also be sure to ask if they are licensed or bonded.
While it might not seem like an important thing to do, you may consider spending some time getting to know your new home a little better – after all, you’ll be spending a lot of time together. Where is the shutoff for the water heater? When was the last time the air filters were changed, or appliances were serviced? Where is the circuit box and which breaker flips which rooms? Some of these answers can be found through trial and error, some you may decide to take care of on your own, like testing the breakers to label them and changing out the air filter yourself. Do yourself a favor, buy the BIG pack of filters.
We hope these tips help you to take a load off and fast track you to the good part – feeling cozy in your new home. For more tips or to talk to a loan officer about getting started in your homebuying process, click here to find someone in your area – we’d love to help you out.