If you just purchased your very first home, you will appreciate this list of essential steps for first time home buyers to tackle immediately after closing. You are probably eager to begin unpacking boxes and to arrange furniture, settling into and enjoying your new space. To get settled, there are several things you must do to stay organized and safe and to keep your new house in excellent condition.
Change of Address
- You will need to update your home address.
- Be sure to fill out a change of address form with the United States Postal Service. Doing this will ensure that mail sent to your old home address will be forwarded to your new one for twelve months.
- Send your change of address to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
- The following services will also need your updated address: insurance agencies, banking institutions, employers, creditors and subscription services.
- Remember to give the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) your new address. Their website has a simple form that you can fill out.
- Don’t forget about your family members and closest friends! They might want to visit your new house, send holiday cards, and maybe even send warm wishes and gifts for your new home.
- Compile home and mortgage documents for safekeeping.
- Gather the following documents: lender contact information, property survey, inspection report, final closing documents and insurance documents.
- Store originals in a fireproof safe or a safety deposit box. Keep copies in an easily accessible yet safe location in your new home and stored online in a secure cloud program.
- Go ahead and use this time as an opportunity to make sure other official documents are organized and exactly where they should be. Double-check to make sure birth certificates, social security cards and other significant documents are stored safely in your new home.
- Set up or transfer utility services for water, electric, gas, cable, and internet.
- Choose utility companies. Depending on where you live, you may or may not have a choice in utility companies. It is always the buyer’s responsibility to establish or transfer utility accounts immediately after closing. So don’t delay on this task. Some utility companies have grace periods between the time when the previous owner cancels services and the new owner requests utilities. Don’t assume that this is the case for all utility companies.
- Keep in mind that some utility companies require an appointment to turn on services. Some companies can schedule same-day appointments. You might have to wait a few days.
- Get organized and plan for routine home maintenance and improvements.
- Begin with a deep clean, either by cleaning the empty home yourself or hiring a company to clean the space for you.
- Choose and install window treatments for privacy and as a first step to decorating your home.
- Create a master maintenance plan for the upcoming year and put reminders into your calendar. Don’t forget about the following: replace HVAC filters; drain the water heater; clean fridge coils, gutters, and the dryer hose.
Security and Safety
- You will need to address security and safety concerns right after purchasing your new home.
- Change all of the locks in your new home unless you are buying a brand new home from a builder. If there are locks on outside gates, sheds or detached garages then be sure to change those as well.
- Reprogram or reset key codes for garage door remotes unless the garage door is brand new.
- Choose and install a home security system. You will need to research the different types of security systems and choose the kind that best fits your needs (e.g., wired versus wireless, smart home automation, monitored versus unmonitored).
- Test carbon monoxide detectors and replace them as needed. Carbon monoxide is called a “silent killer’ because there isn’t a way to detect its presence unless an alarm is installed.
- Test the temperature of hot water heaters and reset to avoid being accidentally scalded. The standard temperature for hot water heaters is 140 degrees Fahrenheit. But lowering the temperature to 120 degrees reduces energy expenditure and could potentially save you hundreds of dollars each year.
- Put together an emergency and disaster kit. All family members need to know where to easily and quickly locate the equipment in the event of an emergency.
- Purchase fire extinguishers and store in the following locations: a central location on each floor of the house, kitchen, garage and near sources of heat (e.g., fireplace).
- Create a list of emergency contacts and post the list in a location that is easy to find. Don’t forget to include names and numbers of your insurance agent, utility companies, plumbers and electricians. It’s definitely better to have a plumber’s contact information listed in a convenient place before something happens to the pipes or toilets get stopped up!
- In a true, timely emergency, everyone in the home should know to dial 911 right away. It’s still a good idea to write “call 911 in an emergency” on the list of emergency contacts.
- Locate and learn to operate the following: main water valve, gas shut-off valve, and a circuit box. Don’t forget to label all the circuit breakers.
SoCal VA Homes Resources for Home Buyers
If you are a first time home buyer, then we encourage you to continue reading our blog page and to read “The Plan to Buy a New Home .” In this homebuying article, you will find everything you need to begin the journey to homeownership while taking advantage of your VA loan benefits! We also offer a Veteran’s Home Buyer Survival Guide to help you navigate using your VA home loan.
SoCal VA Homes knows that buying your first home can be exciting and daunting. We are here to help and to make the process as smooth as possible for you! Give us a call at (949) 268-7742 or send us a message today. We are excited to speak with you!