You just closed on a home. Now what?

a happy couple dancing with their dog

Here are 19 things you should do first after you buy a house.

By Josh Potter

Once you close on your home, you get the keys and the house is officially yours. But what do you do first? It can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re a first time homeowner, now that you’ve got a home all your own to look after and maintain. But don’t worry! This is the beginning of an exciting new chapter. The documents are signed and the keys are yours so now it’s time to settle in. We’ve made an easy guide to help you transition into your new home that’ll set you up for success as a homeowner. Here is our simple list of the things you should do first after you close on your home

In this article 

You’ll find a list of tasks we suggest you do right away. This list will walk you through some of the administrative work of registering addresses and switching utilities, as well as offering some guidance into budgeting and maintenance. Plus, you’ll find insight into how to plan decorating, renovating, and remodeling. 

Maintenance and updates 

Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

Both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors have test buttons. Depending on the model, they may communicate with a security company. Alert your monitoring company and then perform the tests by following the model’s instructions. 

Change your locks

Change all the exterior locks to your house, or have them re-keyed by a locksmith. Even if it’s a new build, there’s no way to know for sure who has keys to the property and who doesn’t. Either way, it’s always a good idea to ensure that, as early as possible, you and your family are the only people who can access the property. 

Inspect your HVAC system

Heating and cooling systems are complex machines, so major repairs should be done by a trained professional. But there are a few things you can do to get your HVAC system ready for whichever season it is. Change the filters on your unit every 1-3 months and spray the outdoor unit with a hose to clear it of any dust, pollen or leaves—especially in allergy season. Clear away brush from the outdoor unit as well to make it easier to service if it should need maintenance from an HVAC technician. 

Reset your water heater

If you had a professional inspection done before buying the home, you’ll know how old the water heater is and when it was last serviced. Drain it and reset it to make sure everything is working properly. Plus, changing temperature and pressure settings could save you on energy and utility bills in the future. 

Hire a fireplace specialist

Before you cozy up to your new fireplace, hire a professional to check that it is working properly—and safely. A fireplace specialist should clean it and inspect the gasket, cap, and damper to make sure air is flowing properly and no animals can make it into the chimney. 

Hire a pest specialist

Protect your home’s interior, exterior, and green spaces by hiring a professional to check for any existing pests and potential weak spots. Depending on your area or the season, setting traps, spraying the lawn, or just sealing holes in the siding will be sufficient. 

Locate shut-offs and circuit breakers

You’re going to want to know exactly where your circuit breakers are and what wiring each switch controls right away. This will save you a lot of time and headaches later. The same goes for emergency water shut-off valves in case of back-ups or flooding. 

Create a maintenance checklist

A lot of factors go into keeping your home safe, warm, and comfortable. Do you know what needs to be updated and when? At some point while you were making an offer and closing on your new home, you should have received an inspection report. Use this as a reference to get started, then adapt it into a yearly checklist. 

Papers, bills, and dates

Lock your closing documents away

You will receive—and sign—a lot of documents when you close. Most of them contain agreements and information you’ve already discussed with the various other folks involved in your purchase, such as the real estate agent, bank, and escrow company. These are important records about your mortgage, the deed, and title of your home, so keep them safe and secure. 

Transfer utilities

Don’t wait to transfer your utilities until it’s too late and you have to go a few days without them. You’ll want utilities set up at your new home in your name at least a day before you move into your new home officially. This will make sure there’ll be no pause in your service from your old place to your new one. 

Change address

Remember to forward your mail and officially change your address on any account or document that requires the information. Now is the time to change your address for your driver’s license, car insurance, credit card payment, subscriptions, your employer, and more. 

Add important phone numbers to your contacts

You’ll want to make sure you have quick access to the police non-emergency line, utility company, animal control, and the information of your new homeowner’s insurance provider. It might also be a good idea to add the phone number of emergency plumbers and locksmiths, just in case.  

Learn when trash day is

Some neighborhoods pick up trash and recycling together, some split up the days. Some trash pickups are once per week, others are less frequent. Don’t wait until your trash starts to smell before you realize you don’t know when to get it to the curb! 

Update your budget

Now that you’ll be paying a regular mortgage for a long time to come, consider going back over all your finances. Consider that you’ll be paying for regular maintenance on the home as well as updates and decorations and furnishings. Add property taxes and other expenses, and make sure your monthly costs don’t exceed your monthly earnings. 

Research refinancing options 

At some point, you’ll likely want to refinance your home loan. This is a way to get more out of your mortgage when rates dip or you need to do some expensive updates or additions. Refinancing is not one size fits all and there are pros and cons to the process. Learn about them here.

Decorating and personalization

Paint your new home

Paint the exterior and interior of your home. This one is smart to do before moving in, while there’s no furniture to move. A new coat of paint, no matter the color, will help protect siding, and a good painter can help with dry rot and other maintenance issues, too. Once the paint dries, it’ll really start to feel like home.  

Replace minor accessories 

Things like electrical plates, door knobs, trim, and light fixtures aren’t that hard to replace and shouldn’t cost you too much money if you do it yourself. And a little goes a long way with these accessories. A few new details in your home can transform it with just one stop at the local hardware store. 

Take measurements

Measure and write down the measurements of walls, corners, nooks, and hallways in your home. Keep them on your phone so you’ll have them available next time you’re at the furniture store or a garage sale so you never have to guess! 

Gather estimates

One day, you’ll likely want to update your floors, kitchen or bathroom. To better plan ahead and save, consider talking to contractors now. Find a good one, then you can make a timeline of what you want to accomplish in your home at what pace. 

Wrapping it up

After you close on a house, the hard part is over. Now you have all the time you need to update and personalize your home. There are just a few things you should do right away so that the rest of your time in the home is stress-free. Get started today! 

About the author: Josh Potter is a writer and journalist based in Seattle. He works for Flyhomes.

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