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Moving into a new house: What you need to know

Dahna Chandler
The Mortgage Reports contributor

In this article:

What happens after closing? Moving!

Once you close your purchase and get your keys, you’ll be moving into a new house.

  1. Change your locks, and if it’s a smart home, erase and reset all smart features
  2. Locate your circuit breaker box and water shut-off valve
  3. Steam clean carpets and wipe cabinets before moving your stuff in

These three items will help you get off to a safe start in your new home.

Verify your new rate (Nov 20th, 2018)

Completely and securely move out the old owners

Moving into a new house is exciting — and exhausting. Don’t get comfortable, though, until you make the house yours completely. Before you go to bed that first night, get the locks changed. And re-key them all, because there’s likely a master key floating around that fits your locks. And keys marked “don’t duplicate” get copied routinely.

Related: Moving tips (How to move for less)

Unless you’re a locksmith, hire one. You not only want high-quality locks installed correctly; you also want little evidence that they were changed.

Smart tips for smart homes

You may now be the proud owner of a smart home and its network. Having the smart light bulbs and refrigerator die just after moving into a new house won’t be fun. So, check all of the home’s IoT features to be confident they’re up-to-date and secure enough to use on your home network. Create a guest network to run them from your computer, tablet, and smartphone.

Related: Smart homes (What you need to know about IoT)

Reset all devices to factory settings to purge old data, passwords and potential malware. Reinstall the latest software and firmware on all devices. Then, test their security.

If something doesn’t work correctly and you can’t fix it with a reboot, software or firmware update, replace the device. Otherwise, it might compromise the security and functionality of your whole smart home system. Your smart security might not outsmart criminals, either.

Related: Home technology (What’s important when you buy or sell a smart home)

If you work from home, you’ll want to be confident your network gets set up to accommodate your business, remain productive and lose zero work hours.

Standard operating procedures

When moving into a new house, sometimes you find potential problems missed in the final walk-through. So, it’s essential to do another house check immediately to reinspect items and learn the location of things that keep the house operating.

Related: Home inspection (Check these important systems before buying)

It’s great of the former owner has this stuff written down somewhere, but if not, grab a note pad and do it yourself for future reference. If you don’t want to DIY it, hire someone to do this for you. The cost should be reasonable if repairs are not involved.

Check these systems, systematically

Find the main circuit breaker, and check the switches for any that stays tripped. That could be a sign of an electrical fault,  nonworking appliance or defective outlet. Search for the electrical defect so you get it fixed immediately. Check light bulbs and fixtures, and replace any non-functioning ones.

Related: How do I hire an electrician, and how much does it cost?

Locate the water shut-off valves both for the whole house and all sinks and appliances that use water. If you have a pool, learn where every element of that pool, and check its function so your pool stays clean and safe. Run every appliance that uses water to make sure it works, and there are no leaks.

Know where the gas, oil or propane shutoffs are, and inspect them to make sure they work. That includes stoves, outdoor grills, and fireplaces. Check for leaks then familiarize yourself with their operation. Turn them on as if you’re going to use them to make sure they work properly, then turn them off to be sure they shut down completely.

Safety measures

Don’t ignore safety features when moving into a new house. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to determine if they’re expired. If so, replace them. If not, test for proper function, and change the batteries in all of them so then they batteries are fresh. Mark their expiration date and the date you changed them on your calendar so you know when next to replace them. Don’t see an expiration date? Buy new detectors.

Related: Home maintenance (essential for preserving home value)

If you have small children, or expect to have them in your home regularly, inspect all the home’s safety features to ensure they’ll protect the little ones. Also, verify play sets and areas, as well as fences, are secure and in excellent condition.

Go deep with cleaning

Your new home might look spotless, but you don’t know what could be lurking beneath the surfaces. So, don’t unpack until you clean thoroughly.

Examine filters in your HVAC, appliances (including ones in the stove vent and refrigerator), pool, water filtration systems and faucets as well as clothes dryer lint traps. Change or clean them, if necessary.

Related: Best app-driven house cleaning services

Steam clean carpets and carefully wash the floors, including around and under appliances (if you can move them). Clean out cabinets, including those under sinks, wash windows, and clean the garage, especially if it’s attached to the house. Scrub the both conventional and microwave ovens.

If you’re certain the toilet seats aren’t new, replace them with new ones you’ve cleaned of manufacturing residue. Scour toilets, tubs, and sinks and wipe down closet shelves. Dust blinds, baseboards, ceiling fans and other light fixtures.

This sounds like a pain, and it is. But you can hire the right help to make moving into your new house as pleasant as possible.

Verify your new rate (Nov 20th, 2018)