Checklist for the first week in your new home

You just closed on the purchase of your new home and have the keys in your hand. The excitement has barely worn off, and you have already started your move. Other than arranging your move, here is a handy checklist of items that you will need to take care of during the first weeks in your new home.

  1. to-do listUtility Accounts – You need to open new utility accounts in your name. Often the escrow company will pay the final utility balance for the sellers, but this does not open a new account for you. Depending on where you live (condo, rural, urban, etc), you will have to open utility accounts for your electricity, natural gas, water, sewer and garbage. When opening your accounts, you may be able to save a charge for meter reading if you take the meter reading yourself. You will also want to order any telephone, internet, cable TV or satellite services that you need. If the home has a security system that you want monitored, you will also have to contact the security company.
  2. Re-key Locks – There is no telling who may still have a key to your new home, so you will want to re-key your locks so only you have access. You can either have a locksmith visit the home, or you can remove the locks from your doors and take them to a locksmith, saving you a trip charge. Be sure to have the key available so they do not have to pick the locks. Have a few extra keys made and get yourself a keybox to hide on the property. The hidden keybox will save you the hassle of locking yourself out and can also help if you need to have friends or family access the house when you are away.
  3. Plan for Cleaning – Your idea of clean may not be the same as the seller’s. Sometimes sellers will leave a home in immaculate condition, but sometimes not. Plan to clean the home thoroughly before you move in. If you are planning to clean the carpets, do this immediately before you move in your furniture and allow some time for it to dry. It is far easier to clean carpets when a home is empty.
  4. Paint When Rooms are Empty – It is a lot easier to paint an empty room before you move in your bulky furniture.
  5. Change of Address – Start changing your billing address for all of your accounts such as bank accounts, credit cards, student loans, car loans, etc. Don’t forget to tell the Post Office where you live so they can forward your mail from your previous address. You can do it online here.
  6. HOA Information – If you live in a condominium or subdivision with a homeowners association, you will want to figure out where you will be sending your monthly dues. It is also helpful to figure out who to contact for maintenance issues and requests. Be sure to ask when the association meetings are scheduled if you are interested in participating in the decision-making process for your association.
  7. File Your Closing Documents – Home ownership will change your income tax situation in beneficial ways, but you will need your closing statement to figure out the correct tax basis for your property. File it away safely for your next tax return.
  8. Read Your Inspection Report – Remember the inspection report you paid for during the purchase process? It is usually filled with helpful maintenance tips and other projects that will need your attention. Use it as a sort of “owners manual” to systems in your new home.
  9. Window Coverings – If the home you bought lacks window coverings, it will take some time to select and order drapery and blinds. In the interim, you can purchase cheap paper accordion blinds to give you privacy until your chosen window coverings are installed.
  10. Time to Take Care of the Yard – If you are coming from apartment or condo living, you may not have any yard tools, but you now have a yard to care for. You’ll likely need to make a trip to the store for things like a lawnmower, garden tools, snow shovels, etc. Get the basics to get you started and add to your collection as you need it. Craigslist can be a great resource for used items.
  11. Don’t Make Major Changes Immediately – Everyone has grand plans for improvements and changes to their new house. Home updates are expensive and time-consuming. Before committing to costly remodeling projects, spend a few months living in the house to find out what actually annoys you and what you can live with for awhile. I guarantee that what is important to you at move-in will change once you have lived there for a few months.
  12. Keep Track of Major Home Expenditures – You can only deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from your income tax return. However, you will want to keep records of major investments that you make in the home, as these can be added to the tax basis of your home and have the potential to reduce capital gains taxes when you sell, depending on how much your home has increased in value.