First-time home buyers are often surprised by the number of things they have to do after purchasing a home. Sometimes they are woefully unprepared as well. I believe the information void. There simply aren’t very many tutorials that cover the post-purchase part of the buying process.
Think about it for a moment. There are thousands of articles that offer advice leading up to (and including) the closing/settlement process. But most of these articles fail to include any tips or advice for the period immediately after the closing. What’s a new homeowner to do?
With that in mind, I offer you the following checklist:
1. Follow-up on your utility transfer.
You may have already started this process prior to closing. If not, that’s okay. Just be sure to follow up on electricity, gas, water, and other paid utilities in your area to ensure proper transfer. It will save you a lot of headaches later on, and possibly even a “lights-out” scenario.
2. Complete a change of address form.
If you haven’t done so already, visit the local post office or go online to complete an official change of address form. Do this early on, and you’ll minimize the amount of mail that gets sent to and forwarded from your old address.
3. Update your address with financial companies.
When it comes to credit card statements and other financial documents, it’s best to go a step beyond the change of address form. Contact your credit card company directly to change your address on record. You don’t want financial documents being sent to a home you’re no longer in. These days, you can handle this process online to save time.
4. Update your voting information.
Call your local election board or visit their website to find out how to update your address. Even if you only moved locally, you might have a new polling station. You might be in a totally new voting district.
5. Update your driver’s license.
If you moved, you need to update your address on your driver’s license. There’s a grace period where you’re allowed to drive with the old address on your license, but after a week you’ll run the risk of getting a ticket. Visit your local ICBC to have your address changed, it only takes a few minutes.
6. Get a safe deposit box.
A safe deposit box is always a good idea, but it’s even more important after buying a new home. Put all of your important documents in there, such as your homeowner’s insurance policy.
7. Set up auto-pay.
If your bank offers it, set up auto-pay for your monthly mortgage payments. It will be one less hassle to worry about each month, and it will also help you avoid missing payments due to forgetfulness.
8. Meet the neighbours.
If your neighbours don’t come and introduce themselves, go say hello. Remember, these are the people who will keep an eye on your home when you’re away.
9. Ease into your mortgage payment.
If this is your first home, or if you’ve upgraded from a less expensive home, it’s a good idea to ease into your mortgage payments. Give yourself a couple of months to adjust, before making any big purchases like furniture or home entertainment systems. Err on the conservative side for a while.
10. Savour the experience.
Lastly, take a deep breath of satisfaction. You’re a new homeowner!