Congratulations! You have bought your first home. You found a place that you love, secured a mortgage, successfully dealt with negations, home inspectors, insurance agents. You have learned about closing costs and the copious amounts of paperwork that must be signed. No doubt, this have been an exciting and busy time for you.  Believe it or not, there is still more to do! We have prepared this handy guide to help you through the process.

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Mortgage and Insurance

 

Homeowner’s Insurance

If you have a mortgage, homeowner’s insurance was most likely required for the loan. Within the first 6 months of home ownership, it is smart to reassess your insurance needs. You may discover that you have to little (or too much) coverage. Take a critical look at your policy and get a second round of quotes from other insurance companies.

Escrow

Many mortgage companies will require that your taxes and homeowner’s insurance be escrowed, which means that the mortgage company totals those expenses then charges you one-twelfth of the sum each month. If you do not have escrow, remember to budget for your tax and insurance expenses. If you do have escrow, ensure your mortgage company is making all the payments on your behalf on time. Remember, it is your house and your credit on the line. You will also want to double-check the accuracy of the estimate made by your lenders escrow department. If there is a discrepancy, you can expect a bill for the difference at the end of the year.

Set up your utilities

You’ll need to get all of the utilities into your name as soon as possible. Sometimes the previous owner will leave a list and contact information for the utility companies.  It is a good idea to walk through the house and make a list and work through it. Call the electric, phone and gas companies. Contact the city our county office for sewer, water, garbage and recycling.

Update your address with your bank and credit institutions, then triple check that the utility companies have the correct billing address. If you don’t get the bill due to an administrative error, your power or water could be shut off.

With so many new variables, the first year in your new house can be challenging financially. Get on budget plans where you can. Many utility companies will estimate your use for the year, based on the previous owner or average for the neighborhood, then they will break your bills into 12 equal payments. This will reduce the fluctuations in your charges throughout the year.

Prepping the house

Some work is easier before you move all your stuff in, such as painting or new carpet. If timing and your budget allow, consider what you want to update before your move-in date. Do you plan to do the work yourself or hire a professional? Make sure you get quotes and add the estimates into your move in budget. Remember that a home is a work in progress, if you don’t have it in the budget to paint or add a kitchen backsplash, you can always add it later. Doing too much at once can be overwhelming ruin the joy of the experience. Feel free to take a slow approach if it is easier on your pocketbook.

Moving in!

Change the locks! As soon as you get the keys at closing, change all the locks for the house, garage, storage, and everything that has keyed access. You do not know who has copies of the keys. Also, remember to change any security codes for the house and garage.

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Get the lay of the land

 

Equipment

You may find that you need some lawn-care equipment or look into hiring a landscaping service. There are a lot of DIY and home improvement videos that can give you lawn maintenance tutorials.  Make sure you have some essentials such as a rake, shovel, pruning tools and gloves.  Before you start any major projects, you will want to make sure you call your utility company to make where your services are in your yard. You do not want to break a water main or open a gas line. Better to be safe than sorry.

Moving into your first home can be a lot of work, but you will also reap so many rewards such as building equity, lightening your tax load and establishing roots in your community. Congratulations on becoming a new homeowner!

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