So you’ve crossed the finish line. Whether you have been searching for a new home for weeks, months, or years, you finally signed all the documents, initialed here, here, and here, and obtained the keys to your new place.
Go ahead and take a breath. Acknowledge the moment. Then get prepared for your new place by completing these tasks.
1) Change the locks
The seller should have surrendered all their keys at closing. This will include any keys used by real estate agents, cleaning crews, etc.
But what about those handed out to family and neighbors? The “just in case” keys that we often use to prevent us from having to call a locksmith when we leave our keys inside. You really have no idea how many of these are out there, so you may want to change the locks after closing. That way you’ll know who has access to your new home.
If you’re moving into a condo, this might be a task for property management. Often, condos will have a master access key for emergencies, so check with your COA before making any changes to the locks.
You’ll also want to change any security codes when that is an option.
2) Take care of your closing documents
First, make a copy of all your closing documents. This should include your contract, title, homeowners insurance policy, etc.
Keep the copies with you for reference. Then protect the originals.
The safest option is to put them in a safe deposit at your bank. If you don’t already have one for other sensitive documents (social security card, passport, etc.), this would be a great time to open one.
If you have a fireproof safe, you can use it as well. You might sleep a little more soundly knowing that these important items are off-site though.
3) Contact your utility companies (try to complete this step before you close)
Most utilities have a grace period, but you don’t want to rely on it. In order to ensure that there’s no interruption in service, you’ll want to contact the utility companies so they will know they have a new customer. Some will require an upfront deposit if you didn’t have service with them at your old address.
You’ll also need to transfer services like internet and television. Often, the transfer is as simple as having the company switch your address. Sometimes they will need to send out technicians though.
If you are in a shared building, like a condo, there could be restrictions on providers, or some of the services might be included in your fees. You will want to check with management to find out.
4) Change your address (over and over again)
Much of life happens online these days, so you might not be paying much attention to snail mail. However, one piece of misdirected mail (from the IRS, for example) may be enough to cause a problem.
First, change your address with the United States Postal Service. This will ensure that all mail will make its way to your new home.
Next, make sure your driver’s license is updated with your new address. In Florida, you have only 30 days to get this changed before you risk getting a citation for an outdated address. The process if fairly simple at the online DMV.
Unless you are moving from out of state. In that case, you’ll need to go in person. But most of the time, you won’t have to retake any tests if you have a license from another state.
Then, you’ll want to change your mailing address with all the services and subscriptions you have. Make sure you get the important ones (like your bank and auto insurance). Note that your auto insurance policy might change because of your new location.
5) Cover the windows
Unless it was specifically mentioned in your contract, you may find yourself in a new home with no window treatments. You’ll want to get some privacy quickly, especially before you start moving in all your belongings.
If you’re planning to paint, though, you might want to wait until after that process is completed. Otherwise, you’ll likely have to take the window treatments down anyway.
If you know that you want to customize the look of your home with new colors, this is probably the best time to do it: before you fill your place with furniture and hang pictures and art on the wall.
It’s also a great time to go ahead and update the carpet if it’s getting worn. If you don’t need to move right away, consider these quick touch-ups.
7) Make a list
Aside from paint and carpet, though, you might not want to tackle any major renovations right after closing. If you give yourself a little time to live in your new home, you’ll discover what changes you want the most.
Instead, make a list of all the changes you might want to make. The home inspector’s report is a great place to start.
Just remember that you don’t have to complete everything at once. Aside from the essentials above, most of your tasks can wait a little while.
8) Meet your neighbors
This is the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to your new community. And it’s better to learn their names now instead of down the line when you need a favor.
While not everyone will want to exchange contact information, it’s a good idea to be able to reach your neighbors in case one of you notices unusual activity. Start with the properties immediately around you and meet more neighbors as the opportunities come.
If you are in a condo, it’s a good idea to introduce yourself to all the properties that share a wall, floor, or ceiling with you.
Some neighbors might come to you when they see the moving boxes start to arrive. If not, it’s worth it to make the effort to say hello.
Listen, there’s still a lot to do. Moving is exciting, but it also comes with stress and work. Just don’t forget to enjoy your experience, especially if it’s your first home.
Have someone take a picture in front of your (yes, it’s yours now) entryway. It makes a great keepsake.
Hopefully the home buying process hasn’t worn you down. It can be a lot to take in, and you might not even be thinking about what happens after closing. By following a few simple guidelines, though, you can settle into your new place soon.
If you’re just starting the process, closing might seem like it’s in the distant future. But it will be here before you know it.
The Jablon Team understands the importance of the buying journey, and we’d be pleased to help you navigate the entire undertaking. Contact us today to start a conversation about finding your dream home.
Marc Jablon, the Jablon Team