Most new homeowners breathe a huge sigh of relief when they cross the threshold to their new house. The house hunting. The paperwork. The packing. The moving. All those home-buying tasks finally done. But before you start debating which cupboard should house the wine glasses, there are 11 tasks you should take care of as soon as you move in. We promise you’ll be glad you did.
1. Make Sure Everything Works
Check that all your systems are in working order — the heat, air conditioning, electricity, water and toilets, says Lauren Williams of Casual Uncluttering LLC.
And while you’re touring around, make note of the locations of the water cut-off, gas cut-off and main breakers — just in case, suggests Realtor® Frances Dawson at RE/MAX Executive at the Lake.
2. Change the Locks
You have no idea what babysitter, neighbor, cleaning service, etc., may have a key to your new home, notes Dawson. While you’re getting the locks rekeyed, have the locksmith make a few spares in case you lose a set or need to share with family or guests, adds Annie Draddy organizer and cofounder of Henry & Higby.
3. Do a Deep Clean
We know — you just cleaned your old house. But if you can summon the energy, consider spending some time tackling your new home. “Unadorned and unfurnished rooms are a luxury that you only get once, so take advantage of it either by cleaning yourself or hiring professionals,” Draddy says. And don’t forget to clean the household appliances that aren’t being replaced, such as the dishwasher, refrigerator and washer and dryer.
4. Before the Movers Leave, Doublecheck Everything
Before the movers leave, check the inventory list to make sure everything made it out of the old house and off the truck, and that everything arrived in good condition, suggests Lior Rachmany, founder and CEO of Dumbo Moving + Storage. “If for some unfortunate reason, any items were damaged or lost during the move, now is the time to bring it up with your movers to discuss next steps, including possible reimbursement.”
5. Make a Grocery Run
Head to the store and spend 15 minutes getting all the absolute basics, suggests Williams. That includes toilet paper; soap; shampoo; cleaning supplies (“rolls and rolls of paper towels,” she says); snacks; drinks, and disposable plates, cups and utensils. Almost everything else can wait until you finally open that one box you’ve been looking for, she says.
6. Help Kids and Pets Settle In
A household move is a major routine disruption for little ones and furry friends, so do what you can to ease the transition, says Rachmany. “Chances are, both your kids and pets will be upset by the change, so try to re-establish their routine as soon as possible. They will need special attention during the first week after the move, so, no matter how chaotic it is for you, spend some quality time together.” Setting up kids’ rooms ASAP can help them feel at home immediately, so make that Job One.
7. Itemize Your Stuff
Many of us have heard the advice of taking an inventory of our household belongings in case its needed for homeowners insurance purposes, but the thought of wandering through your house with a video camera can be beyond daunting. That’s why moving into a new house is the perfect time to take care of this task because all your items are corralled, suggests Alex Migliore of Bubrig Insurance Agency Ltd. “It sounds very tedious, but those who have lost their homes wish they had a comprehensive list to make the claim process smoother and get the most from the insurance they’ve paid so much for.”
8. Do Just a Little Bit of Hoarding
Did you just toss anything and everything in a box as you got down to crunch time? We get it… and how it can be just as tempting to get rid of the stuff you don’t recognize once you arrive. But don’t throw out those random cords and electronics — at least until the end of the process, Draddy cautions. “Put them all in one place, and you’ll know where to look when you need to find a missing cord, which inevitably happens during the settling-in process.”
9. Schedule Repairs
If you had a home inspection and there were items that you didn’t negotiate to have repaired or replaced by the seller, do it now while it’s fresh on your mind, Dawson recommends. This is also the time to start a folder or spreadsheet to keep track of all the home improvements and maintenance, along with receipts, says Gynell Vestal, a residential appraiser and founder of appraisal website Consumer Home Value. “When you go to sell or refinance, the appraiser will want to know more about the improvements you made since purchasing to justify an increased value.”
10. Take Care of the Paperwork
Paperwork is boring but necessary, says Jennifer Beeston, vice president of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate Mortgage. First, make sure you canceled all the utilities at your previous home. “You would be surprised how many people forget and then end up with collections, which can kill your credit score,” Beeston says.
Update your address with your credit card accounts, subscription services, the bank, doctors and other services.
And, find out if your homeowners insurance covers your moving days both out of your old place and into the new one, says Draddy. “This will give you a little extra peace of mind as you go through the process.”
11. Meet the Neighbors
Knock on the neighbors’ doors and ask about good restaurants that deliver, says Williams. “It’s an offbeat, fun, practical way to introduce yourself, not to mention a subtle way to start finding out about your neighbors — which ones are helpful, who has the most adventurous answer, etc.”
Another suggestion (probably best for non-Type A personalities) is to host a small coffee with a dozen or so neighbors in the first week or two. “Don’t worry about all the boxes and disarray; this is about making connections quickly in your new neighborhood,” Dawson says. “You don’t even have to know anyone’s name … just copy a simple invitation and slip it in the front door.”
Even if you are not a natural extrovert, this final tip is worth it. Making an early overture will pay dividends throughout your time in your house.
What do you wish you’d done when you first moved in? Share with us in the comments.
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