Just Bought a Home? Here’s Your Checklist

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couple standing at the window of their new home looking out into their front lawn

After weeks of touring potential homes, evaluating neighborhoods and making your purchase, you’re finally a new homeowner. Congratulations! Now it’s time for the fun stuff: moving in and making that space uniquely yours.

However, before you start changing wall colors and hanging your family portrait, first you’ll need to take care of a few important tasks. Here’s your just-bought-a-home checklist to guide you through the next steps:

1. Change the locks

Do you know who has the keys to your new front door?

The previous homeowners might not know the answer to this, even if they handed in their set of keys. Best friends could have a set, as could their trusted electrician, plumber or next-door neighbor. If you bought a newly constructed home, any number of contractors might have a key.

The truth is, you don’t know who has access to your home, and you may never find out. Changing the locks—hardware and all—can give you peace of mind and avert any would-be burglars.

2. Review homeowner’s insurance coverage

There’s likely no better time to appreciate how big an investment your home is than when the purchase is still fresh in your mind. The right homeowner’s insurance policy can help you protect your investment by covering losses like vandalism, theft or a house fire.

Depending on the items you own and where you live, you may need additional insurance coverage. Since the average homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t cover rising water or landslide damage, consider plans that protect against these specific events if you live in an area prone to certain types of natural disasters.

Additionally, if you own highly valuable items, like designer clothes, family heirlooms, high-end jewelry or priceless artwork, it may be wise to look into a rider policy that covers more than the typical homeowner’s insurance product.

doing property research on a computer

3. Upgrade outdated features

There’s no time like the present to update your new home—especially while it’s empty before your move. If your new attic insulation looks a little thin, invest now for future savings. If you’ll need to make any adjustments to accommodate your connected home devices or a new TV, make them now.

If any updates require the expertise of a professional, begin seeking out the right person for the job as soon as possible. You’ll likely begin creating a list of projects based on when you first saw the house; use this list to determine which services you’ll need to prioritize.

4. Identify potential future expenses

Though your new home passed the inspector’s checklist, there’s still a chance for minor issues to get bigger. For example, a tiny crack in your basement wall isn’t cause for concern—yet. Review your new home for the small details that may lead to big headaches later on.

Mark any cracks in your basement with a piece of masking tape labeled with today’s date; this will help you keep track of any changes in size. Locate all water pipes and make sure they’re leak-free and insulated.

5. Set up utilities

There’s a chance that you won’t be able to turn on the lights on your first day of homeownership. Some utility companies have a grace period between when the seller shuts off service and the new owner calls in to set it up, but not all providers do this. To be sure, it’s best to contact your utility companies in advance of your move.

6. Plan your move

Once you’re well-acquainted with your new home, it’s time to start planning out your new space. Pack your current house or apartment, being careful to label each box by the room to which it belongs.

couple standing in their living room surrounded by boxes with a lot of unpacking to do

If you’ve recently bought a home, it might be a good time to reevaluate your budget. Check out our recent post to discover which budgeting method is right for you.

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