In 2020, 31% of people buying a home were purchasing a home for the first time. It's a major milestone towards achieving the American dream. Although, getting to the point of owning your own home isn't exactly easy. On average, it takes six years for someone to save for a house. So, when the moment finally comes, it can feel blissful to get the keys and open the door.
You'll have gone through the hardships of saving, finding, and buying, so this checklist is designed for people who have the keys — or are soon to have them — and need some guidance on what to do next. Keep reading to learn more.
Protecting your Investment
Buying a house is perhaps the biggest investment most of us will have in our lives. The average home in the US costs $408,800 - that's a lot of money that it's handy to protect. There are multiple ways of doing so that will be a discussion point in the article, but let's start with insurance and warranties.
There are multiple policies available. Each policy will have different coverage options - the more you cover, the more you pay. If you look at homeowners warranty at 2-10.com you'll see the sorts of coverage you can expect to receive that'll give you an idea of the items you can protect. Home warranties protect appliances and systems should they break, whereas insurance is a more comprehensive cover for the entirety of your home, depending on the type of cover you get. With a warranty package, you're more likely to get more target covered for specific appliances.
Some experts say that home insurance is essential. Considering houses hold so much value, both within the dwellings and the possessions inside, it pays to fix them. There is a range of insurance packages policies available, but the one you should be most interested in is an HO-3 or an HO-5.
An HO-3 is a special form policy covering dwellings, liabilities, additional living expenses, personal property, and medical bills. An HO-5 covers everything the HO-3 does but with more financial cushioning. That means there are higher limits specifically for jewelry and other high-value items that other policies wouldn't cover. The form is an open peril, meaning it's easy to make a claim, and more possessions are covered.
Check the Safety of the Home
One of the first things you should do when you get your keys is to consider the safety of your home. Even if your home is brand new, many people will have had keys at some point, and experts recommend changing the locks when you first move into a home for that reason. Anyone could still have old keys that work in the locks - paying to have them changed removes the risk. Lock changes shouldn't cost much more than $100.
Most modern homes have a house alarm, but not all of them work, so next on the list is testing the security alarms. It's a quick and easy task to do and a super-easy problem to sort if you find your house alarm isn't working. Most alarm companies offer emergency services if you feel like you don't want to stay in your home without a functioning house alarm.
You might also be interested in increasing the safety of your new abode by installing additional security features, such as a Ring Door Bell or other surveillance equipment. Although a Ring Door Bell isn't technically surveillance, many people use them as deterrents for thieves. Obviously, a complete security camera setup is the better option, but they are far more expensive. Sophisticated systems can cost thousands - a Ring Door Bell costs a little over $100.
Another security feature to consider is the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors save thousands of lives every year, but there were still over 300,000 house fires in the US last year alone. And, 5 million homes in the US don't have a working fire detector.
Considering the risk of a house fire is relatively high, it pays to take the time to ensure your smoke detector is working correctly. If it isn't, companies can come and replace the detector with a brand new one. They will also advise you to change the batteries every six months and run a test monthly to ensure the alarm still works.
Setting Up Bills
Now on to the part that nobody likes to deal with - household bills. Household bills are daunting because, on top of all the other outgoings you have, it can seem like massive stress to try to handle. Fear not - it's not as hard as you may think. Once you have your bills set up, they'll come out of your account like any of your other outgoings. Plus, if you automate them to come out as direct debits each month, it's not only easier to keep track of, but there's less of a chance that you'll miss a bill.
One bit of advice that any expert would give is to shop around - most utility providers such as gas and electric offer exclusive online deals. You'll notice when you shop around that some offer other types of offers, such as government employee discounts and retiree discounts. Below you'll find a list of all the bills you should consider setting up:
Those are the basic bills needed to get you going. As long as you have running water and working electricity, you've got the basics, and you're good to go.
The Deep Clean
The dreaded deep clean. It doesn't matter whether you moved into a new build home or one somebody has come out of - you should think about doing a deep clean when you first get in there. That reduces the chance of dust, dirt, and grime sitting on surfaces longer than they need to. However, be wise. If you know you're going to spend the first few weeks renovating, deep cleaning is perhaps not the best option - or at least not the best option for the room you're redecorating.
Considering you should have an empty house, go around and clean every nook and cranny - Mrs. Hinch style. There are so many great advice articles online like this one that will reveal some great cleaning tips. Once you've completed your deep clean, you'll have the perfect space to start putting all your belongings into.
Renovations and Repairs
Experts will advise that you carry out any repairs and renovations before you properly move in, but that's not always the easiest to do. Some repairs are easy, such as changing a switch or lightbulb. However, most repairs will require more invasive work, such as replacing faulty windows or doors, renovating bedrooms, or repairing built-in appliances.
Hopefully, you will have had the chance to scope out any problems before moving into the home. Bigger renovations are likely to happen in the long run unless you manage to save enough money to start right away. Some people find it better to make do with what they've got, so long as the home is functional and save more money to carry out extensive repairs or renovations.
Getting to Know the Neighborhood
Getting to know the neighborhood is probably one of the least stressful things you'll do when moving into your new home. First, explore the local area if you haven't done it already. Check out the local grocery stores, fitness centers, and schools (if you have kids) to see where your new favorite spots will be.
More importantly, get to know your actual neighborhood. Meet your neighbors and introduce yourself. The sooner you do it, the better, and you might even like to take around a tasty treat as a gesture of goodwill. Nightmare neighbors can ruin any new homeowner experience, so it pays to have a long-lasting friendly relationship. You'll find that most neighborhoods have clicks of families and friends if it is a nice residential neighborhood. Some even have committees!
Updating your Address
Last but not least, changing your addresses. That is perhaps the most arduous task - you soon realize how many companies and people know your address! The ones you need to contact first are your bank account, auto insurance, work, and health insurance companies.
Anything that holds slightly more importance should be first on the list - put it this way, Netflix isn't in a rush to know you've moved houses. If you write down a list of all the people that have your address and work through it, you shouldn't miss anyone. Fear not if you miss one - most companies like to send out emails and text messages to keep you in the loop. Plus, if you came from your parent's home, they'll still receive your mail, making it easier to detect any you may have missed off your list.
Moving house for the first time is one of the best experiences. Nothing beats being able to get the keys to your first home and walk through the door. Hopefully, the checklist above makes the moving process easier for you.