After searching for a new home, negotiating an offer, and going through escrow, buyers are aware of the steps that need to be taken to ensure a successful transaction. But the work isn’t over just yet. As soon as you get the keys to your new abode, there are a few things that need to be tackled before you kick your feet up.
Here are 8 things you should do right after your real estate deal closes.
1. Store Your Closing Documents in a Safe Place
All the documents that you signed at closing should be secured in a safe place to prevent theft or destruction. Make copies of the originals and store them each in separate areas. Keep the photocopies in a robust filing cabinet that locks, and the originals in a safety deposit box at your bank. You can also choose to store them virtually on a cloud-based website or software like Dropbox. That way you’ll still have easy access to them while keeping them safe at the same time.
2. Change the Locks
Many buyers don’t think to change the locks after they get possession of their new home, but this is a task that should be done for security purposes. While one of the contingencies in a real estate contract is for all the house keys to be provided to the buyer at closing, there’s no way of knowing whether a key or has been copied and retained by the seller.
You may also want to consider installing keypads on all of your exterior doors rather than just changing the locks. This smart home feature is becoming increasingly popular and allows you to gain access to your home without a key. You can always change the code whenever you wish to increase security measures on your home. If the home already came with a keypad, you’ll obviously want to change the code immediately after moving in.
3. Inform People and Companies About Your New Address
Once the deal closes and you move from your old home into your new one, you will need to get in touch with important companies to inform them of your new mailing address. This list can be rather lengthy, and can include the following:
Of course, you’ll also want to keep your friends and family in the loop of your new address so they know where to go to visit you for your housewarming party!
4. Give the Home a Deep Cleaning
While your real estate contract might stipulate that the sellers must leave the home free of debris, they likely won’t be giving the place a good scrub-down before they vacate. As such, you should have the home deep-cleaned before you even move your belongings in.
That includes washing all the windows, steam cleaning the carpets, mopping the floors, washing the drapery, cleaning the appliances, scrubbing tile grout, and cleaning out the gutters. You might even want to go so far as to wash the walls, especially if the previous owner was a smoker. To really freshen things up, go the extra mile and give the walls and ceilings a fresh coat of paint.
5. Locate the Main Water Shutoff
You’ll definitely want to know where the main water shutoff valve is if you ever experience a broken water pipe. Every second matters when it comes to the amount of damage that open water can cause, so the quicker you can shut off the main source of water, the better. Not only should you ask where this water shut-off valve is, you should also test it to make sure it actually works.
6. Consider Improving the Home’s Energy Efficiency
If you’re buying an older home, odds are it’s not very energy efficient if the sellers have never made any improvements. There’s a lot of money that can be saved on your utility bills every month and every year, so it may be worth your time and money to have an energy audit conducted to identify any areas in your home that are wasting energy – and therefore wasting your money.
Professional energy auditors will scope out your home, pinpoint areas that require attention, and make recommendations on how to rectify any issues to help save energy and keep more money in your pocket.
7. Look Into Tax Credits and Deductions
Many first-time buyers aren’t aware that they can take advantage of some tax credits and deductions when buying a home. In California, first-time homebuyers have several tax credits that they can tap into.
The Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) tax credit program allows first-time homebuyers to deduct a portion of mortgage interest that was paid directly from federal taxes that they owed. This tax credit is equal to 20% of mortgage interest that is paid during the year. If this is itemized on your tax return, you can still take a deduction for the remaining 80% interest that was paid.
8. Go Out and Meet the Neighbors!
It’s nice to get to know the neighbors who you will be living amongst after you move into your new home. While you don’t necessarily have to be best friends with everyone on your block, it’s still a good idea to be able to rely on each other to keep the neighborhood safe, report any suspicious activity, and even have contact information in the case of an emergency.
The Bottom Line
After escrow closes, you probably just want to move your belongings in and start enjoying life in your new home. You certainly can, but there are certain tasks that need to be done right away to help maximize your enjoyment of your new place. Being a homeowner comes with new responsibilities, many of which should be taken care of immediately following the closing of the deal.