You just bought a house, now what?

brown parquet floor

8 steps to take after closing

After you sign the closing documents, your new home is finally yours. It can feel like a lot of responsibility, especially if you’re a first-time home owner. But there are some small steps you can take now to make homeownership easier for you in the long run.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps to take after you buy a house to ensure that you’re all set to move in.

Key takeaways 

  • How and when to move your belongings
  • What utilities you need to connect and when
  • How to change your address and where to make sure it’s updated
  • What insurance you may need 
  • Cost-effective repairs to make first 
  • How to explore your new home to build a maintenance plan

8 things to do after you close on your new home 

1. Pack up your old place

You’ll save money by moving on your own, but there will be a few extra steps for you to take.

brown cardboard box on white bed
You can save money by packing and moving yourself, but make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need

Do it yourself:

  • Lock in a moving van or enlist your friends and family with trucks

Moving van rentals can range from $35-$2,800 depending on size, how far you’re moving, the cost of fuel, and taxes and fees. You can also rent a storage container or pod that you fill up at your original place and have moved to your new home. The cost for a storage pod ranges from around $500 to more than $5,000 for a long-distance move.

  • Find boxes…lots of boxes

Buy boxes from a moving company and they’ll send you moving kits with everything you need to pack up your home. Or if you want to keep it more affordable, you can ask local stores for extra boxes. Get more than you think you’ll need because chances are, you’ll fill them up.

Hire it out:

  • Research moving company costs

Use a moving cost calculator to help you estimate the moving costs of a partial, or full-service move.

  • Hire a moving company

Find a good moving company on Yelp and ask friends or family for recommendations.

  • Schedule the move

The moving timeline can be short if other people are moving in to your old home and you have a small window to get out. Don’t wait until the last minute to get this scheduled. Make sure you’re contacting movers throughout the process.

You can always give yourself more time if you buy your next home before you sell your current one. Flyhomes can show you how.

Pro Tip: when you’re setting up your new place, start in the bedroom. After a long day of moving, you’ll probably want to fall into bed when it’s over.

2. Cancel or transfer your utilities 

Some utility companies will shut off utilities for a period of time before turning them back on. Make sure to turn your services back on before you move in so you have water, heat, and electricity on your first day.

3. Change your address

To change your address with the US Postal Service, fill out the change of address form on their website. This will ensure that the post office forwards your mail to your new home. It’s also important to tell friends and family your new address and to change it with providers, too. For instance, anywhere you do online shopping, subscription services, and insurance companies.

Make sure you change your address at these place after you move:

  1. Post office
  2. Tax agencies
  3. Social security administration 
  4. Utility companies
  5. Phone, cable, internet
  6. Your employer
  7. Credit card company
  8. Your bank
  9. Loan providers
  10. Subscriptions
  11. Online shopping sites
  12. Other providers like doctors and veterinarians
  13. Friends and family

4. Set up insurance

You probably set up your homeowners’ insurance when you closed on the house, but moving changes your car insurance, too. You may also need to look into flood or earthquake insurance depending on where you live.

5. Explore the home

This may be the most exciting part of buying a new home. Open every door and drawer, find the circuit box, and emergency shut-offs. Walk through the home and flip all the switches, turn on all the faucets, and check every outlet.

6. Change locks and codes

Change the locks and set door codes to ensure the safety and security of your family and belongings. Make sure that everyone who will need a key or code to the home gets one. If your home comes with a security system already, contact the company to put the account in your name. Or, choose a new security system if you’d like.

black handled key on key hole
Change locks and door codes, then make sure everyone who needs a key has one

7. Clean, paint, and upgrade your new home

Go through your new home and do a deep clean while it’s empty and you can get into all the little nooks and crannies. Don’t forget the outside, either—clean your gutters, wash the siding, check the roof for debris, and mow the lawn.

Paint the interior of your home before you actually move in so you don’t have to work around furniture or art. Plus, life gets busy, so doing it right away ensures that it will actually get done. To get an idea of how much time or money it will take, it helps to know how much square footage you’re going to paint.

Now is also the time for small and easy upgrades like replacing faucets and light fixtures, or patching holes and fixing trim.

8. Prepare for maintenance

If you’ve been living in an apartment, your property manager has taken care of a lot of maintenance. Now, you’re in charge of mowing, raking, shoveling, cleaning the gutters, and more. Along with these tasks comes some preparation.

It’s helpful to sit down and make a plan based on the seasonal maintenance that is most pressing. For instance, if you’re moving in in the spring, choose the lawnmower you’ll need along with other gardening tools. If it’s winter, make sure to get yourself a sturdy snow shovel.

The real work begins after the papers are signed

Signing the papers to buy a house is just the beginning. Start by moving your things. Then, connect utilities, set up insurance, paint, and perform minor upgrades. Once you’re all settled, change the locks and door codes, and get to know your new home.

FAQs

What is the first thing to do after buying a house?

After you buy a house, the first things you should do include changing your address with the USPS, organizing the packing and moving process, and connecting utilities in your name.

How much money should I have leftover after buying a house?

The amount of money you should have leftover after buying a house depends on a number of factors. Are you moving yourself or hiring movers? Are you using your existing furniture or are you buying new? Will you be painting and doing some upgrades or moving in right away? Are there any big ticket items that need repair, like the septic or HVAC system? Lenders will recommend that you have at least six months worth of the mortgage in liquidity after you close to account for insurance, repairs, unforeseen costs, and rainy days. 

How much should I have saved to buy a house?

A 20% down payment will give you a jump start on your mortgage and allow you to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). Some loans like USDA loans don’t require a down payment, and others, like an FHA loan, require as little as 3.5% down.

About the author: Stephanie Mickelson is a freelance writer based in Northwest Wisconsin who specializes in real estate, building materials, and design. When she’s not writing, she can be found juggling kids and coffee.

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