Buying a new house is a huge milestone in life. It's practically a guarantee that your house will be the most expensive thing that you ever purchase. The heavy responsibility of owning a house can provide an exhilarating sense of freedom and pride that's hard to match.
The current homeownership rate in the United States is around 65.5 percent. Each of these 80-plus million households has likely had a very similar home buying experience as you. There's no reason to believe that you can't get through the hard stuff as they did and enjoy life as a homeowner.
New Homeowner To-Do List:
Unfortunately, there are a ton of things that you'll need to take care of whenever you buy a new home. It's relatively common for these factors to pile up and feel very overwhelming, especially if you're buying a home for the first time. The different prices, payments, inspections, paperwork, and emotions can have your head spinning and stress you out.
To get you started, here is a checklist of 18 essential tasks that you need to complete after you've moved into your new home:
- Pick up the keys
- Pay the movers
- Set up your utilities
- Connect to the internet
- Update your address information
- Change all of the locks
- Install a security system
- Buy a home safe for valuables
- Locate shut-off valves and circuit breakers
- Make sure important functions are working properly
- Test the smoke detectors and buy a fire extinguisher
- Deep clean the entire house
- Unpack one room at a time
- Buy anything essential that you're missing
- Make a list of necessary furniture and appliances
- Meet with the members of your homeowner's association
- Explore your new community
- Throw a housewarming party
Organization is the key to tackling all the issues of being a new homeowner. Being organized can help you concentrate on the most critical tasks and make finding anything you might need much easier.
- Pick Up the Keys
There are few things as exciting in life as being handed the keys to your new home. The listing agent should have the keys to your home. Contact them to figure out where you can receive the keys and start your new life as a homeowner.
- Pay the Movers
Physically moving your stuff to a new location will typically require some outside assistance. Whether you hire a moving company or enlist the help of family/friends, make sure to pay them. After all, you'd have difficulty getting all your stuff into your new house by yourself.
- Set Up Your Utilities
Ideally, you should contact your local utility providers to begin service before you move in. It will be pretty challenging to accomplish the items on this list without electricity or water. If you haven't already set up your utilities, then it shouldn't take too long. The previous owner almost certainly had electricity, water, and gas. You would just have to contact these companies, create a new account, and your service should start shortly.
- Connect to the Internet
The internet is an essential utility these days because it's nearly impossible to function without it. Once your electricity is turned on, you should quickly contact the best internet service provider in your area. Setting up the internet can take anywhere between a few days and weeks. The sooner that you get a service provider, the sooner that you can connect to the web.
- Update Your Address Information
Your address is a crucial piece of personal information as it's where you'll be located most often. You never know when someone might need to find you, and updating your address is the best way to help them. Make sure to inform your local post office so they can forward your mail, the DMV so they can update your license/vehicle registration, and federal/state tax agencies so they can collect the proper taxes.
- Change All of the Locks
There's no way of knowing how many duplicate keys to your house the previous owner made. It only takes a minute and a few dollars to copy a key, and most people like to have more than one spare.
You should play it safe and eliminate all doubt by replacing the locks in your house. That way, you can ensure that you have the only set of functioning keys, and any worn down or damaged locks will be upgraded. You don't have to replace the interior locks if you don't want to, but you should make sure to get all of the external ones.
- Install a Security System
You can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your home. Installing a home security system can provide you with the peace of mind that your house is protected even if you aren't there. There are plenty of security systems that include alarms and lights to prevent burglars but look for one that provides fire, carbon monoxide, or flooding alerts.
- Buy a Home Safe for Valuables
Even a state-of-the-art security system is no match for a good old-fashioned safe. Using a safe to store your valuables is a tried and true method that's been around for centuries. It's essential to keep in mind that not all safes are equal, and there are a lot of options out there. You'll need to answer a few questions based on your needs before you can find the best safe to meet your needs. You'll never have to worry about losing your valuables to a fire or a thief again.
- Locate Shut Valves and Circuit Breaker
There is any number of things that can go wrong in your new home. For example, if a water pipe suddenly bursts in your home, you'd need to shut off the water flow immediately.
You should look for the shut-off valves for your water and gas lines to quickly limit the potential damage in an emergency.
Make sure to find these valves both inside your house and the ones leading into it. It's also a good idea to see your circuit breaker in case any fuses blow.
There should be an electrical shut-off switch nearby that can kill your supply of electricity and turn off your power.
- Make Sure Important Functions Are Working Properly
You should have already conducted a few different home inspections before you completed your purchase. However, you should take the time to test out all of the various functions in your home and make sure they're working properly.
Check all of the faucets and showerheads to ensure they run and can be heated, flush all toilets to ensure they don't clog, and test all of your major appliances (oven, refrigerator, dishwater, etc.). Ensure you also turn on your HVAC to test the air conditioning and heating functions. If any significant issues need to be addressed, now is the time to identify them.
- Test the Smoke Detectors and Buy a Fire Extinguisher
These activities are so vital that they get their section separate from the last one. It only takes about 30 seconds for a small fire to spread and turn into an uncontrollable inferno. Functional smoke detectors with fully charged batteries can buy you enough time to exit your home safely.
You might have to replace some of your valuables (unless you've invested in a fireproof safe), but you're less likely to encounter severe burns, smoke inhalation, or other injuries. It's also a good idea to have at least one fire extinguisher that's easily accessible.
Most people keep their fire extinguisher in the kitchen since it's the most likely area to start a fire.
- Deep Clean the Entire House
It's improbable that your new home will ever be this empty again. Once you've moved in all of your stuff and unpacked everything, there will be plenty of spots that you can't clean without a lot of effort.
Now is the time to perform a deep clean in your new house and get all those hard-to-reach spots. It's also a good idea to make any alterations before you get settled in. You might want to paint over the old wallpaper or replace the old carpet with wood flooring.
It's easiest to perform these tasks before you unpack everything and get settled in.
- Unpack One Room at a Time
You probably have a lot of stuff that you need to unpack and sort out. It's easiest to focus on one room at a time and not move to the next one until you're finished. You should start with your bedroom since you'll probably be exhausted after such a long day.
After getting your bedroom sorted out, you can move on to the following rooms in your house. The kitchen, bathrooms, other bedrooms, living room, dining room, home office, laundry room, and garage will all be next. Be sure to keep a list of anything that you might need for each room.
- Buy Anything Essential That You're Missing
If you made a list for the last section, you shouldn't have too much of a hard time during this one.
There are bound to be random things your rooms are missing. It might be random items such as a shower curtain in the guest bathroom, ice trays in the kitchen, a surge protector for the office, and coasters for the living room.
The list will probably be pretty long, so the idea is to get everything you need in as few trips to the store as possible.
- Make a List of Necessary Furniture and Appliances
The majority of homeowners will leave behind their old appliances whenever they purchase a home. However, it's not guaranteed, and they'll usually take their furniture. You might have to buy all new appliances and furniture for your new home.
These purchases can quickly get expensive, so you might not be able to afford all of them at the same time. You should purchase the essential furniture and appliances first, then slowly work your way down the list.
- Meet With the Members of Your Homeowners Association
It's pretty common for houses in the United States to be a part of a Homeowners Association. You probably already had to meet with a member of your new HOA, but it's good to get to know all of the major people.
The typical HOA has a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. You should try to make time to introduce yourself to each individual and ask any questions that you might have about your new home.
- Explore Your New Community
Even if you live in the same city or town, you'll now be part of a different community. You should take the time to walk around and explore your new area. It's a good idea to discover all the resources at your disposal. You'll need to find the nearest grocery store as you'll probably be shopping there most often.
There are also bound to be a few restaurants in the area that you haven't tried before. You should take the time to walk around your new community and introduce yourself to your new neighbors. Although they might be strangers now, they could become close friends in the future.
- Throw a Housewarming Party
Once you have settled in and completed your list, it's time to kick back and party. You've worked hard to get your new house straightened out and deserve to celebrate with your friends and family. You can even invite your neighbors to join in on the fun and get to know you. You'll want to make sure that you're following the rules of your new HOA. But you deserve a fun night after all that you've accomplished.
Keep Your Valuables Protected in Your New Home
The last thing that you want to think about in your new home is experiencing a break-in or fire. You've worked so hard to buy your new house and accumulate valuables that just the idea of losing them can be devastating. However, the best time to be cautious is before tragedy strikes.
You can minimize the damage of a break-in or fire by keeping your valuables and important documents safe. You can't put a price on your peace of mind and the security of your most valuable items and documents.