Along with the excitement and pride of becoming a homeowner, this new chapter also comes with a new set of responsibilities. To set yourself up for success in your home, here are four things you should do now that you’re a homeowner.
Save Your Important Documents
By the time you’ve closed on your house, you’ll have accumulated a lot of paperwork from the homebuying process. It’s important to keep diligent records of these documents, including:
- Lender contact information.
- Appraisal report.
- Property survey.
- Inspection report.
- Final closing documents.
- Insurance documents.
Consider making copies of these documents readily available, then store the original documents in a secure place, such as a fireproof safe.
Set Up Your Utilities
Contact your local utility companies as early as possible to avoid any lapse in service when you move into your new home.
The five basic utility services you’ll want to make sure are connected in your name by the time you move in are:
- Water and sewer.
- Waste disposal (trash and recycling).
- Cable and internet.
Update Your Address
To avoid any confusion and inconvenience, update your address with these places around the time of your move:
- The United States Postal Service (USPS). The USPS may be the first place you’ll want to notify of your change of address. The post office will hold your mail while you are in transition and then forward your mail from your old residence to your new one for 12 months.
- The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Whether you move to a new state or not, you’ll need to update your driver’s license and registration address. You may be required to do so with within a month or two after you move. Check the laws in your state to be sure.
- Voter registry. When you move addresses, it could impact what voting district you’re in and which polling location you will use on election day. Check your district information to see if you need to change your voter registration.
- Subscriptions and online deliveries. Tracking down a package can be a major headache, so be sure to update your address if you receive any automatic deliveries.
- Financial institutions and credit cards. To prevent missed payments or lost statements, update your billing address with banks or credit companies where you are an account holder.
- Your employer. Ask your employer to change your home address on your W-2 so that the form doesn’t get lost at tax time.
Inspect and Secure Your Home
As you move in, make sure you’re prepared for an emergency by planning for the unexpected and checking these items off your to-do list:
- Locate the water shut-off valve and the fuse box. In an urgent situation, you don’t want to be searching for these. Know how to turn off the flow of water and where to restore the flow of electricity if the power goes out.
- Change the locks. Make sure you are the only one with keys to your home. If you also have a keypad, reset the code.
- Locate and test smoke detectors. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends testing your smoke detectors at least once a month and replacing the batteries once or twice a year.
- Create an evacuation plan. Identify possible evacuation routes from each room in your home in the case of an emergency. Be sure to discuss your emergency plan with all members of your household.
- Set aside emergency funds. It’s recommended to set aside between three to six months of living expenses for unexpected emergencies. If you’re faced with something like an unexpected major home repair, you’ll be glad to have funds already set aside.