Congrats! You just bought a new house! This is one of the most exciting (and hectic) times of your life. We know that this can be a little overwhelming, so we made a list of the first 5 things you absolutely must do right after you buy a house.
1. Change the Locks
As soon as you sign those papers finalizing the sale, the absolute first thing you have to do is change the locks.
When a house is put on the market, lots of people get copies of the keys, including Realtors, assistants, maintenance workers, professional stages, and more. To prevent a burglary or any awkward incidents (we know of a painter who thought the house was still on the market and interrupted a startled couple at breakfast just after they moved in!) get those locks changed ASAP.
Pro Tip: You can either call a local locksmith, which will run you about $100, or do it yourself. If you have basic handyman (or handy-woman!) skills then you can probably change your locks yourself and save a bit of cash.
And while you’re at it, make a copy of your new house key and give it to someone you trust who lives nearby. That way, when you (inevitably) lock yourself out of your new house, you won’t have to call a locksmith to let you back in.
2. Prep the House, Before You Move In
The next thing to do after you buy a house is to do some prep work before you move in. Big, messy projects like painting, refinishing floors or installing new ones should be done before you move yourself, and everything you own, into your new space.
Some of these things you can do yourself. Painting isn’t too difficult to DIY, as long as you’ve had some practice. But we suggest leaving more difficult and involved jobs–like refinishing hardwood or repairing ceilings–to the pros.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have much time before you move in and have to make some quick decorating decisions, go with neutral colors and designs.
That way you’ll have more options when you go to actually decorate the rooms. And of course, paint isn’t permanent. You can always repaint once you’re settled in and have more of a plan for your interior design.
3. Check Utilities and Services
Up next is checking your utilities and services. You have no idea how up-to-date the previous owner was on maintaining home systems. Check the HVAC, the hot water heater, the chimney (if there is one), etc. Replace filters, call a HVAC pro to do some maintenance, and make sure everything is in working order.
Talk to your neighbors and see what utility services they use, and which ones are honest and reasonably priced. And once you’ve decided on a company, call them ASAP to set up your service. Some companies have grace periods where they give the new owner time to set up an account, but some don’t. And you really don’t want to be without hot water (or any water at all!) after all the stress of moving in.
Pro tip: If at all possible, set up utilities before closing. But we get it; you have lots of other things to think about when buying a house, and setting up utilities isn’t always top of mind.
But it definitely should be one of the first things you do after you buy a house.
4. Make Copies of your Closing Documents
Throughout the buying process, you’ll be getting a lot of papers to sign. Make sure to read them all carefully (or have your lawyer read them), and here’s the important part–make copies of them. We’re talking hard copy and digital. Scan the documents, print them, and store them on your Drive or cloud. Whatever you have to do to make sure that you will always know where these papers are.
Of course the county’s deeds office will have copies, but accidents happen! It’s always best to know that, in case of emergency, you have the papers that say you own your house.
5. Meet Your closest neighbors
This last one is the fun one! Go meet your neighbors. If you live in a condo building, then meet everyone on your floor as well as those who live directly above and below you. If you bought a single family house, then introduce yourself to the people on your street.
After spending all day unpacking, you’re going to need some fresh air. So grab the kids or your partner, put the pup on a leash, and take a stroll around your neighborhood. Exchange phone numbers and email addresses with your immediate neighbors so you always have someone to contact if anything comes up.
Like we said, this is the fun part. Use this time to de-stress and make new friends. The quicker you make friends in your neighborhood, the quicker it’ll feel like home.