Buying a home is a big responsibility, financially and for many other easons. It is easily the single biggest expense in life for most people, and it may not be the only home you ever own. There are scores of things that you need to get done in order to prepare a down payment, secure a mortgage, and purchase the home of your dreams, but the work is not done the day you sign on the dotted line or get handed the keys. Here are six things you should get done the day you buy your first home.
1. Take pictures.
You will want them to remember what your house looked like the day you took ownership, and you may need them for an insurance claim later on. Digital cameras mean you can take a lot of pictures without having to worry about the cost of developing film. However, you may want to print out an 8 by 10 of how your house looked the day you bought it.
Store the rest of the images in the cloud or on digital media. Realize that even flash drives do not hold data forever. Degradation of the digital data on a flash drive takes years, but it does happen. Shooting some video of the inside and outside of your home with a narrative will be fun to view years from now too.
2. Confirm your insurance.
Look over the fine print of policies. Contact your insurance agent to make sure all paperwork has been filled. Buying a house is a hectic time. Make sure your actual coverage is in step with the market value of the house as well as what is owed on the mortgage. Reassess the coverage after moving in with your possessions. Do you have too little, too much, or just the right coverage for the contents? You want adequate insurance coverage, but you do not want to pay excessive premiums.
3. Change the locks.
Whether you do it yourself or hire a locksmith, make sure the door locks on your home are changed the day you take possession of it. You have no idea who the previous owner has given copies of the keys to. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to home security. The home is now yours. No one who was granted access before has that right now, and the best way to control access is to change the locks. Do not forget to have the locks changed on outbuildings too. New door locks can all be keyed to open with one key. Specialty keyed locks may offer more security than mass-produced models.
4. Get a security system.
The FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics indicate that there were 1,729,806 burglaries in the United States for 2014. That is about one burglary every two seconds of homes and businesses. Home security systems act as an early warning system and a deterrent. Criminals do not want to get caught, and they choose easier targets than homes with alarm systems. Plus, fire and carbon monoxide detection tied to a central monitoring station can send help whether you are home or away, and also if you or your family is incapacitated.
5. Check your utilities.
It is easy to tell if the electricity is on, but it is more difficult in some homes to determine if the natural gas is on or if propane is available. Also, it is important to check your water heater. It may have been turned off or turned to its lowest setting to save energy while the house is unoccupied.
If you do not have a gas stove but have gas heat, turn the furnace on and listen for the flame to start. Check the temperature setting on the water heater. If you do not know how to check for a lit pilot light on a tank water heater, just run the hot water for five minutes and listen for the flame to start at the water tank. If it does not, have it checked.
6. Look over home guarantee policies.
Within a few days of living in your new home, you may discover things that need fixed that neither you nor your home inspection expert noticed. Homes that have been unoccupied for a time may develop slow drain issues. The sewer systems of unoccupied homes dry out. Sludge in the drains can harden to a plaster-like consistency. As you begin to flush solids down the dry drains, build up may cause slow drains or clogs. This can especially be a problem in homes that have terracotta drains.
After a few months, a lot of homeowners start to develop a nervousness as they realize that something could break and cost them a lot of money that they simply don’t have. I use a home warranty in order to better budget and not have to worry about large repairs breaking the bank around the holidays.
Your new home is going to quickly become your castle and family place of comfort, safety, and refuge. However, it is practically inevitable that there will be some issues, quirks, and other things you notice about your new home after you move in. Every home has its own sounds and peculiarities that can be irritating or endearing. Some have never forgotten the sound of a noisy water pipe, a cozy sunny spot, or even that cold drafty spot in a home they have lived in. Enjoy your new home and all it has to offer.
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