As a new homeowner, you might feel like you have a seemingly endless to-do list. It may be overwhelming to figure out where to begin. That’s why we’ve compiled this easy to tackle list of the top five things new homeowners should do after getting the keys to their new home.
- Change the Locks
You just got the keys to your new home – hooray! Now, ditch them.
You’ll need to change your locks as soon as possible after moving in. This small, but often overlooked, detail is an important one. While you likely trust your realtor, and perhaps even the former homeowners, it’s still not safe to keep the old locks on your new home.
Why? Think about all those times you’ve had to lend your key to a neighbor, friend, or relative to look after your pets and collect your mail while you’re on vacation, or to a repairman who needed access to your home while you weren’t home. Even if the original key was returned to its rightful owner, it’s unfortunately impossible to tell whether the key was copied by any of these individuals.
If the home has had multiple owners prior to you, the risk of copied keys floating out there is even greater. You don’t want to risk a stranger unexpectedly coming into your home – whether their intent may be good or bad, it’s still an invasion of privacy. So, take this small preventative action now, and you’ll sleep soundly in your new, fully secure home.
- Set a Budget
You likely just spent a lot of hard earned money on the down payment, home inspection, closing and realtor fees, moving services, and more. This might leave you feeling a little strapped for cash. It’s okay – that’s normal!
Within the first few months, you’ll start to get a handle on the cost of utilities in your new home, as well as see how your new mortgage payment impacts your available funds for the rest of the month. As you get a feel for this, start to set up a budget that takes these factors into account. It’s a smart idea to include an emergency fund for unexpected events, like a medical emergency, an unexpected plumbing repair, or a trip to the mechanic. You should also start a savings fund for things like vacations or other luxury items, a new vehicle, and home improvements.
These budget categories will prepare you for anything life throws at you, giving you the peace of mind you need to enjoy your new home.
- Plan Ahead for Improvements
Okay, so you set a budget, and, as much as you’d like to tackle every home improvement project right away, you realize your wallet just can’t handle it. Don’t sweat it!
Simply take the time to save up, and start getting a game plan together instead of jumping in head first. Prioritize your improvements based off of return on investment, personal needs, available budget, and other factors. Then, set target dates for tackling those projects. This type of plan will help you feel productive and organized while you settle in (and allow your wallet to recover), and will make the home improvement process run more smoothly in the future.
- Figure Out Your Maintenance Needs
We know the home inspection process before crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s on your home purchase was likely very stressful. During this time, you were probably concerned you’d find something that would make the home uninhabitable, causing you to start the house hunt all over again.
The good news is, you can now breathe easily, because that wasn’t the case, and you’re now the proud owner of your dream home! However, the home inspector more than likely found a few spots in your new home that will need attention. Scan your home inspection report for everything from minor issues, like insufficient insulation, to widespread issues, like outdated electrical fixtures. Then, use the report to figure out your maintenance needs, and prioritize accordingly. If multiple repairs are needed, you may also want to look around for recommendations for a reliable general contractor who can help you address your needs.
- Enjoy It!
Last but certainly not least, be sure to take the time to enjoy your brand new home. Owning a home is one of the biggest investments most people are likely to make in their lifetimes. Think about how hard you worked to get to this moment, and celebrate that accomplishment. This is also your time to make your house feel like a home. So, soak in your new surroundings, and personalize them a bit.
Although the house hunting part of your journey is over, your homeownership adventure is just beginning. These are the first five steps you should take as a new homeowner, but everyone’s experiences with homeownership are different. If you’ve found other ways to ease into your new role as a homeowner, share them in the comments below to help others like you!