Do You Know These 7 First Time New Home Buyer & Owner Tips?

Have you recently bought your first home – or are you hoping to buy a new home soon? If so, then you probably feel at least a little bit of stress and uncertain. After all, it’s a big step and one that involves many new responsibilities.

At Addition Financial, we work closely with members as they buy their first homes. We reached out to some financial and real estate experts to ask them for first-time homebuyer tips to help you get settled into your new home. Here’s what they had to say.

Tip#1: Clean and Make Improvements Before Moving Day

Our first tip is one mentioned by several of our experts. Mike Glanz, the CEO of HireAHelper, said:

“If possible, give your new place a deep clean prior to completely moving in. This would also be the best time to paint walls, or perhaps change flooring."

Brian Davis of SparkRental offered a similar tip:

“Before moving in, new homeowners should clean and paint the home if needed. It's much, much easier to paint an empty home than an occupied home. Similarly, if you want to replace or refinish the flooring, do it before moving in (but after painting).”

Let’’s expand on each of these points. Deep cleaning is much easier in an empty house than it is in a full one. If you do a deep cleaning that includes shampooing carpets and washing windows before your move-in date, you’ll be certain that you’re starting out in your new home with everything as clean as it can be.

Deep cleaning is especially important during the pandemic. Robyn Flint of Expert Insurance Reviews adds:

“Clean windows, drapery, carpets, surfaces, appliances and bathrooms to decrease the risk of exposure.”

Just as it’s easier to clean before you move in, the same is true of painting the interiors of your home. If you wait until after you move in, you’ll need to cover your furniture and floors, get kids and pets out of the way, and so on. Doing it before you move means you’ll have minimal disruption to your life. And, as noted above, make sure to think about the best order to make improvements. It’s best to install new flooring after you’ve painted.

Tip #2: Make Your New Home Child and Pet Friendly

If you have kids and pets, you’ll want to be sure you make your new home child and pet friendly ahead of your move. Robyn also says:

“The first thing that new homeowners should do after moving in depends on their family structure. For families with small children, child-proofing and making your home safe for your kiddos is the number one priority. The last thing you need as a new homeowner is a preventable accident.”

Steps to take for your children may include:

  • Making sure you have enough child gates and socket protectors if you have small children.
  • Creating a safe play area in the yard.
  • Decorating your child’s room. (We like to get kids involved so they feel ownership of their new room as soon as they arrive.)

For pets, you should:

  • Make sure the backyard is safe for your dog. You may need to install or repair fencing, put up a kennel or install a lead.
  • Get to know the laws about pet ownership in your new community. Is there a leash law? Do all pets need to be registered?
  • Find the closest dog park and veterinarian.

Taking these steps either before you move to your new home or immediately after you arrive will ensure a smooth transition for the most vulnerable members of your family.

Tip #3 Make Safety a Priority

Your family’s safety and well-being is a priority, and there are many small tasks and issues to address when you move into a new home.

This tip comes from Ashley Baskins, a licensed real estate broker who serves on the board of Home Life Digest. She says:

“First step when you move in is to get familiar with your home. This includes identifying where the following are: water shut-off valve, gas-shut off valve and the circuit box –you can even label the circuit breakers to make things simple in the future.”

“Next, get safe and secure. Change the lock on the doors and reset the code on the garage door, if applicable. You do not want old tenants and their friends and family to have access to your home. Test the carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector, and make sure the home has a fire extinguisher – keeping you and your family safe is essential. Also, clean the gutters and replace the HVAC filter.”

That’s a lot, but it points to several important tasks that first-time homebuyers sometimes overlook. Make sure that everyone in your family knows where the circuit breakers and gas and water shut-offs are. And create a schedule to test and change the batteries in your detectors every six months.

New Homeowner Monthly Expense Worksheet

Tip #4: Create a Maintenance Schedule

The volume of work associated with routine home maintenance can sometimes take first-time homebuyers by surprise. Our next tip is related and it comes from John Bodrozic, the co-founder of HomeZada. He says:

“Keep a recurring list of preventative maintenance tasks because your home is a collection of assets like equipment, appliances, building materials, fixtures, finishes and landscaping. All of these things need preventative maintenance to make sure the home is operating efficiently.”

John goes on to point out that keeping up with preventative maintenance can help you save money on your utility bills. And speaking of finances:

“If you buy a home that needs some work, make sure to financially manage all your remodel projects. This means setting an up-front budget, doing research on different products and materials and tracking all the costs. This will not only help you stay on budget, but you must save all the receipts, warranties, costs, photos, etc. for future tax and resale purposes.”

Every home is different. We suggest asking the current homeowners about their maintenance schedule. You may even want to ask for recommendations of service companies. It could save you the time of having to track down a pool service or a chimney sweep after you move.

Tip #5: Transfer Utilities and Change Your Address

This first-time homebuyer tip might seem obvious, but we have spoken with homeowners who forgot to set up utilities before they moved. Robyn also shares:

“Make sure that, prior to moving in, you have turned all of the utilities on in your name. Schedule a time for your internet provider to come out to set up. Change your address with the post office so that your mail won’t be interrupted and make sure your creditors know that you have moved.”

Fortunately, you can change your address online for a $1.05 fee on the US Postal Service website, here. To change your utilities, you will most likely need to call, although some utility companies allow you to make an appointment or set up services online.

Tip #6: Take a Home Inventory

Our next tip is another piece of advice from John. He suggests:

“Don't forget to take a home inventory for insurance purposes. Everyone thinks that losing their home and personal property to a house fire, or other natural disaster won't happen to them. Until it does, and you are left trying to make sure you get properly reimbursed by your insurance company. Itemize your home's fixed assets and your personal property and take photos and videos of these things which serves as visual evidence of your home inventory if a disaster were to ever strike.”

We agree completely with this tip. It’s an easy thing to forget, but something that’s very important to do. After all, Florida homeowners have seen more than their fair share of disasters and you don’t want to be struggling to remember which belongings were destroyed when you’re in the midst of a crisis.

Tip #7: Make Financial Management a Priority

We already touched on handling the financial aspects of home improvement and maintenance, but a lot can change about your finances when you buy your first home. We recommend making a brand new budget that includes:

  • Your new mortgage payment
  • Your insurance premiums
  • Your property taxes
  • Your utilities, including some that you might not have had to worry about in an apartment, such as water, trash and sewer charges

You may also need to adjust your commuting expenses if you have a longer or shorter commute than you did before your move.

Finally, we suggest figuring out a savings strategy that will work with your new budget. Whether you want to save for your kids’ college education or build toward an early retirement, this is the best time to map out a strategy to help you reach your savings goals.

At Addition Financial, we want your new home to be everything you want it to be. Following these first-time homebuyer tips from our panel of experts will help you make a smooth transition and get settled in comfortably in your new house.

Need a financial institution that can help you with your first homebuying experience? Click here to become an Addition Financial member now!

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