Welcome to the world of home ownership! Your transaction is closed, the recorded deed is in your name, and you’re the legal owner. So what do you do now?
Here are some key things to consider and some actions to take after the closing to ensure you’ll be off to a good start as a new homeowner.
Now’s the time to do a thorough cleaning. Get the place ready, then call your friends to help you move in. Hang your pictures. Put the sofa in just the right place. Find a place for the cat’s litter box. Settle kid disputes over who gets which bedroom. And don’t forget to allocate a special space for a man cave. He’ll appreciate it.
Review and File The Closing Documents
Review the document package you got from the title company or attorney who conducted the closing. Do you have questions? The closing can be stressful, so maybe you didn’t get all your questions answered. Just call your Realtor® or the escrow agent, and they will get you the information you need.
Keep your closing documents in a safe place. You may need them for various purposes later and they may contain some information you can use now like phone numbers of utility companies so you can use to get accounts set up in your name.
Get Ready To Pay The Bills: Open Utility Accounts In Your Name
Immediately after closing, call the electric, gas, and water companies to set-up accounts in your name. They’ll need the date of closing, and they will adjust the Seller’s final bill to that date. Easy!
Change Or Re-key Your Locks
For security reasons, consider re-keying your property locks. You never know who may have a set of keys to your home. You never got a key to the storage shed? If the Seller doesn’t have it, simply call a locksmith. He can make a key for that lock and even re-key all the locks to use the same key if you desire.
Do Some Initial Maintenance
Make sure you know the status and condition of the utilities and equipment in your home. Change the furnace filter when you move in and regularly thereafter. Also replace the batteries in the smoke detectors, and consider replacing the detectors if they are old. Service the air conditioner, swamp cooler, and sprinkler systems. Service and clean the furnace. If you purchased a home inspection as part of the purchase process, review that document to see what other items may need attention.
Review the terms of your home warranty plan if you purchased one, note the phone number, and don’t hesitate to call them if you have an issue that they cover. Put a note on your calendar one year after closing to check the home warranty plan to see if you want to renew it.
Remember To Make That First Mortgage Payment!
In your closing package of documents, you’ll have a “first payment letter” which shows where to make your first payment and the payment amount. Don’t forget to make that first payment!
Your mortgage servicer will send you info in the mail about how to contact them. Consider creating an online mortgage bill pay account to easily make future mortgage payments.
Take Photos For Hazard (Fire & Liability) Insurance Documentation
It’s a great idea to take photos or video of your home’s interior and exterior, with notes about condition and serial numbers and model numbers. If you ever need to make an insurance claim, this information can really help.
Good Deeds: Check Your Property’s Legal Title
Perhaps you initially “took title” personally because your lender required it, but you’re intent is to title the home in a Revocable Trust. Remember to look into changing this title “vesting” whenever your life situation changes (marriage, divorce, death, winning the lottery). A title company or estate planning attorney can help you with that.
Plan Ahead for Income Taxes
At tax time, give the closing’s HUD-1 settlement statement to your accountant or tax preparer, along with other details such as mortgage interest paid. Keep all receipts and records for your home, particularly those for so-called capital improvements or large expenses.
Review Your Mortgage Impound (Escrow) Account
If your mortgage lender required that you escrow funds monthly for property hazard insurance premium amounts and for property taxes, those bills will be paid by your mortgage servicing company when they become due. You don’t need to worry about making the payment. However, you should verify that the payments were made. Simply create a free online account with your mortgage servicer, and there you’ll see the details of how your mortgage payment is applied, the balances of your escrow accounts, and an annual summary of how the funds were used. Every year the servicing company will reconcile the impound account and make any needed adjustments to your future mortgage payment based on anticipated or actual changes to your insurance premium and property taxes. If you change property insurance providers, the new insurer will know to ask you for your mortgage details so that the mortgage servicer will be notified of your new insurance provider and the premium amount.
Plan Ahead For That Leaky Roof And Sewer Line Break!
Dang, your mortgage payment isn’t your only expense?! No! You’ll have lots of other expenses associated with home ownership. There’s utility bills, of course. Make a budget so you’ll have funds for present or future repairs. Your roof will eventually wear out. What about that sprinkler system that you want? Do you want to install air conditioning? Do you need a snow blower? What about annual lawn care? Maybe you’ll need a lawn mower or yard service, fertilizer, and flowers!
Ok, you made it! All the work paid-off and now you’re a home owner. Have a party! Don’t forget to invite your Realtor® and make his favorite foods. (Sure he already got paid, but he’s always hungry.)