You searched for homes over the course of months or even years. You endured a series of offers and counter offers, property disclosures, inspections and reports. Finally, after so much excitement, stress and anxiety, the house hunt has come to an end.
But the story isn’t over yet. Here are some next steps to consider before you actually move in.
Plan any work well in advance
Rarely does a buyer get a place that is truly in “move-in” condition. By the time you’ve signed a contract, you have lots of ideas about how you’ll live in this home, how you’ll customize it and what work needs to be done.
If the place needs work, don’t wait until you’ve closed to engage a painter, a floor refinisher or a general contractor. Either at your final walk-through or during a private appointment after you’ve removed your contingencies get the proper contractors in the house. Start getting bids for necessary work. If possible, have floor sanding, painting or small fix-it work done before you move in. Real estate agents work with all kinds of tradespeople, so they’re often a great resource for referrals
Set up the utilities
Some people assume the utilities will work once they walk in on day one. While many utility companies have grace periods (the days between when the seller cancels service and the new owner calls), you can’t always assume this will be the case. If you have an out-of-town seller, they may have cancelled services the day they knew all contingencies were removed. In this instance, the grace period likely lapsed, and you may be stuck dealing with the electric company, waiting for an appointment or just being without power when you really want to start painting, fixing or cleaning.
The best plan is to call the utility companies and get service set up well before closing. If they haven’t received cancellation notice from the seller, let the seller know to take care of that.
Got the keys? Great, now change the locks
Assume that every one and his brother has a set of keys to your new home. The seller’s real estate agent likely gave copies to his or her assistant, a painter, stager or even another agent at some point during the marketing period. That’s why the first person you should call after getting the keys is a locksmith.
A new homeowner was shocked when a painter walked into the house at 7 p.m. The painter had a punch list of to-do items from the listing agent, but nobody had told him the house had closed two days early. He assumed it was vacant. Don’t let this happen to you. Spend the money to get all the locks changed right away. You’ll sleep better at night.
Hire a cleaning crew
There’s nothing worse than showing up with the movers, dozens of boxes and your personal belongings only to discover the seller hadn’t had the place cleaned.
Assume the worst and get a professional cleaning crew in there the minute after the closing. Even if the seller did clean, they may have done a poor job. You want to start life in your new home with a clean slate. The movers might make a mess while moving in. But the bones of the place will be sparkling clean and you won’t be scrambling to get cleaners in while the home is in a state of disarray as you unpack.
Have a handyman, small contractor or designer on call
Moving in can take days, if not weeks, and is made up of the kind of stuff you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Things like aligning your framed artwork, centering the couch in the living room or getting the large rug set up in the master bedroom can drive you crazy. Nailed multiple holes in the wall in an attempt to get your family photos lined up on the staircase? Not all of us are cut out to do this kind of stuff. Imagine doing all this throughout an entire 3,000-square-foot house, and you’ll probably feel overwhelmed.
While it may seem like a luxury, investing a few hundred dollars in hiring someone to take orders, help with setting up and take over some of these mindless tasks will save time and potentially relieve you of a giant headache.
Thinking ahead is the way to go
The journey to home buying could have been anything from fun to stressful and emotional. When the closing date draws near, you’re probably exhausted. But taking a little extra time to plan ahead will save you time, money and a lot of hassle. And it will make the move into your new home so much more satisfying.
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Brendon DeSimone is a Realtor licensed in both California and New York. He has collaborated on multiple real estate books, and his real estate expertise is regularly sought out by print, online and television media outlets like FOX News, CNBC and Forbes. An avid investor, Brendon owns real estate around the U.S. and abroad. You can find Brendon online or follow him on Twitter and Google +
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.