7 Tips for New Homeowners
The fun of being a homeowner begins on Move-In Day. You can decorate your home; make choices about design; and, put your personal stamp on every room you have. You also inherit responsibilities. Here’s what you can expect.
Buying A House: Now That You’re A Homeowner
As a homeowner, you’re charged with safety and security of your home; the payment of your bills; and, cleanliness and tidiness, among other things.
Running a house can be like running a business. Take your responsibilities seriously, and you’ll be successful and happy in your place.
Want to own a home? Here’s what you’ll be doing on the day you move in.
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1. Clean Your Home And Call An Exterminator
Your first act of homeownership is to start with a clean house. You don’t know the former residents and how they lived, and you probably don’t want to know, either.
Get started with a professional cleaning service that specializes in move-in cleaning jobs. Look online for house cleaning services, or ask for recommendations from people you know.
Steam cleaning and deep cleaning your new home are non-negotiable. Scrub every corner, clean every inch.
You’ll also want to bring in pest control.
Every home has insects in its walls and you can’t know how frequently the last homeowner had your house serviced. You don’t need to set quarterly service for your home just yet. Start with a one-time appointment and see where it takes you.
Reputable exterminators can be scheduled online.
2. Replace Every Lock On Your House
Your next act of homeownership is safety-related. Change your locks. There are people around town who have keys to your place.
Your home seller may have used a dog walker, for example, and that walker has keys to your house. Similarly, a contractor or a painter may have copies of your keys. The list is unlimited.
Regardless of whether you have the skills to change your locks yourself, hire a locksmith.
First, this frees you up to talk with the movers, to get your boxes unpacked, and maybe stop to eat some food.
And, second, with a professional locksmith, you know the job will be done right.
3. Install Your Home Security System
Home security is important because break-ins can happen anywhere. In addition to new locks, you’ll want to install a proper home security system.
Home security systems are a deterrent to robbers and invasions. They keep the things safe that matter to you — people, pets, and possessions.
Today’s home security systems are also much less expensive as compared to old-school ones, and offer a bunch more options.
Today’s home security systems incorporate all of the following:
- Doorbells with tiny, embedded cameras
- Phone apps for remote home security management
- Carbon monoxide sensors
- Smoke detector sensors
- Freezing water pipe sensors
Most new home security systems are now wireless, too. This means they can be installed, tested, and working in less than 30 minutes without the help of a professional.
You don’t even need a landline. Today’s home security systems operate using self-contained cellular networks.
But, if all these reasons aren’t enough, consider this: homes with home security systems get discounts on their homeowners insurance.
Homeowners pay less for homeowners insurance when they have a working home security system. The stronger your system, the less you’ll pay.
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4. Inspect Your Heater, A/C Unit, And Water Heater
As a homeowner, you are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of your appliances.
Start that upkeep straight away.
As soon as possible after moving in, have your boiler room appliances inspected. This includes your Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning unit (HVAC); your water heater; and, if the home is outfitted with one, your whole house humidifier.
If your technician recommends maintenance, have it done. The cost of a major repair or replacement will exceed the cost of routine maintenance.
Also, while the technician is onsite, ask to be shown where the shutoff switches are. Knowing where to find your home’s utility shutoff valves will come in handy during an emergency.
Inspect your home appliances at least once annually.
5. Find New Homeowner Discounts On Insurance
When you move to a new home, it’s an excellent opportunity to save money on car insurance.
- You’re living in a new home
- You’re parking your car somewhere new
- You’re older than the last time you applied for auto insurance
- Your commute and usage of your car has changed
Each of these factors affect your car insurance rates and, now that you’ve moved, you may be paying too much.
Moving is an excellent time to compare car insurance rates.
You can also can new homeowner discounts from home improvement stores such as Lowe’s; from satellite services such as DirectTV; and, from home goods stores including Bed, Bath, & Beyond and Crate & Barrel.
You’re a new homeowner. Get those new homeowner discounts.
6. Know Which Addresses To Change When Moving
You’re in a new home. Make sure your letters and your bills know where to find you.
The United States Postal Service makes this simple to update your mailing address with its official change of address form.
Specify to each the date on which mail should forward to your new home address. The postal service will send a confirmation message to you via email, and your mail will begin to forward as requested.
Then, to make extra sure you don’t miss your bills, here are some addresses to change when moving:
- Student loan lenders
- Credit card companies
- Subscription delivery services
- Insurance companies and banks
Don’t assume that your bills will find you. Be active in communicating your new address. You don’t want to miss payments and do harm to your credit score.
7. Establish Auto-Pay On Your Mortgage
Your home has a mortgage. Every month, your mortgage must be paid.
As a homeowner, you can manage your mortgage payments in two ways: you can write a check and send it by mail; or, you can set up your loan to auto-pay.
Whenever possible, opt to auto-pay.
When you auto-pay your mortgage loan, you help to protect your credit score. This is because on-time payments are the largest factor in your credit score and auto-pay is never late.
When your mortgage is paid on time, your credit score can climb. You’ll get access to the benefits of a high credit score, including access to cheap auto insurance and better rates on future loans.
Putting your mortgage into auto-pay is easy.
- Go to your mortgage lender’s website
- Find the page to setup “autopayment”
- Give your name, address, loan number, and a link to your bank account
You’ll be asked to set a monthly payment date. Choose a date near the start of the month. This gives you time to recover from technical issues that may delay your payment, and emergencies that deplete you of cash.
For example, if you choose the third day of the month to make your payments, and on the third day of the month, your bank account is short on cash, the bank will send you an alert which gives you time to fix it.
Doing a mortgage on auto-pay doesn’t excuse you from watching your bills, or from looking for a chance to refinance. But, simple is always better.
Auto-pay makes paying your mortgage simple.
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More From: How To Buy A House
The details of how you buy a house will be unique to your circumstances.
Everyone’s homeownership path, though, passes through the same major milestones. For as much as we all buy homes differently, we all do a lot of the things the same.
Read more from our series on How To Buy A Home:
- Series Starter: The 21 Things You’ll Do As A Homebuyer
- Then: The Undisputed Best Way To Shop For A New Home
- Then: Buying A Home: 9 Things You’ll Do Before You Move-In
- Then: 7 Tips for New Homeowners
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