You’ve been house shopping for months or even years. You’ve endured a series of 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.
1. Plan renovations well in advance
Rarely does a buyer get a place that’s move-in ready. By the time you’ve signed a contract, you have lots of ideas about how you’ll live in the 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 professional. Either at your final walkthrough or during a private appointment, get the proper contractors in the house and start collecting 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.
2. Set up the utilities
Some people assume the utilities will work once they walk in. 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 canceled 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.
3. Change the locks
Assume that everyone has a set of keys to your new home. The seller’s real estate agent likely gave copies to their assistant, a painter, a stager or even another agent at some point during the listing period. That’s why the first person you should call after getting the keys is a locksmith.
4. 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 hasn’t had the place cleaned.
Assume the worst and get a professional cleaning crew in there the minute after 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 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 unpacking disarray.
5. Have a handyperson, contractor or designer on call
Moving involves 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.
While it may seem like a luxury, investing a few hundred dollars in hiring someone to help with these tasks will save time and potentially relieve you of a giant headache.
Thinking ahead is the way to go
As your closing date draws near, you’re probably exhausted. But taking a little extra time to plan ahead will save you time, money and stress – and make the move into your new home so much more satisfying.
- 3 Reasons to Live in a New Home Before Renovating
- 3 Common Moving Nightmares (and How to Prevent Them)
- How to Move Cross-Country: See How These Renters Made It Work
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. Originally published February 2013.