Home Ownership

You Just Got the Keys to Your New Home! Now What?

Getting through the closing process on your new home is tremendously exciting – and there’s nothing that quite compares to the feeling of being handed those house keys.

Once the movers have come and gone and all the boxes are left to be unpacked, you need to have a plan. Your journey as a homebuyer is over, but the process of becoming a homeowner is just beginning. Here’s a handy checklist:

1. Change the Locks

Changing the locks (or rekeying them) is absolutely a must. When you move into a new home, you can’t be sure who might have copies of the old keys – and that’s a list that can include previous owners and the neighbor who used to check on their dog while they were at work to old contractors and babysitters. By changing the locks, you ensure that you’re the only one with access to your new home.

2. Update Your Address

Updating your residence address with various parties can feel like a bureaucratic nightmare, but it’s one that you have to endure. Start by notifying your bank and other financial institutions, insurance providers and any subscription services you use. Don’t forget to update your address with government agencies like the DMV and the IRS, as well as with friends and family. You can also set up mail forwarding with the U.S. Post Office to catch any stray mail during the transition period. While you’re about it, don’t forget to update your car’s registration and get a new license with the correct address.

3. Familiarize Yourself With the Utilities

Understanding the layout and operation of your home’s utilities is crucial for both convenience and safety. Take the time to locate the main water valve, circuit breaker box and gas shut-off valve, and familiarize yourself with how they work – because this isn’t something you want to try to learn in an emergency. Labeling these utilities can be helpful, especially when quick access is essential. Consider creating a digital or physical map of your home’s utility systems for easy reference.

4. Set Up the Essential Services

Setting up essential services such as electricity, gas, water, internet and cable ensures that your home is fully functional from day one. Contact your utility providers in advance to schedule service transfers or new installations as close to your move-in date as possible – but don’t forget to inquire about any introductory offers or discounts for new customers.

5. Deep Clean the Whole House

Typically, departing homeowners are asked to leave the property in “broom clean” condition, but that doesn’t mean that the property can’t use a thorough cleaning. Even if the previous owners cleaned before vacating the property, a deep clean will help remove any lingering dirt, dust or allergens that might trouble your family. Start from the top down, cleaning ceilings, walls and light fixtures before moving on to floors, cabinets and appliances. Consider hiring professional cleaners so that you can focus on other things and start unpacking faster.

6. Do a Safety Overhaul

Safety should be a top priority when settling into a new home. In addition to installing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors (or checking existing ones to make sure they function), consider investing in other safety features such as fire extinguishers, security cameras and smart home security systems. If you have children, develop a family emergency plan that includes evacuation routes, designated meeting points and important contact information – and make sure that your children know them. 

7. Make Necessary Repairs or Improvements

Even homes advertised as “move-in ready” will probably have small issues that need to be addressed. Make a list that you can use to prioritize your repairs and upgrades according to urgency and your available budget. If you’re lucky, that may be little more than painting the bedroom walls before you unpack and other cosmetic issues, but you may also need to address problems that were revealed in the home inspection, like a need for an updated electrical box to accommodate modern electronic usage or a leaky faucet.

8. Organize Important Documents

Gathering and organizing important documents related to your home purchase is essential for future reference and peace of mind. Keep documents such as your purchase agreement, mortgage paperwork, property deed and homeowner’s insurance policy in a secure and easily accessible location. Make sure that your spouse or other interested parties know exactly where to find those things in a crisis.

9. Meet Your Neighbors

Building a sense of community with your neighbors can enhance your overall quality of life and provide valuable support networks for the future. If you’re a little shy, try just walking the neighborhood at regular intervals to familiarize yourself with the area and see who you meet. If you’re brave, take a plant or a plate of cookies over to the neighbors on either side of your house as an ice-breaker. You can also participate in community events or neighborhood gatherings to foster connections and build relationships. 

1O. Create a Maintenance Schedule

Regular maintenance is key to preserving the value and functionality of your home over time – and a well-kept home is much more comfortable to live in. Create a maintenance schedule that includes things like cleaning the gutters, servicing your HVAC system and looking for signs of infestation by common household pests.

11. Review Your Homeowner’s Insurance

You need adequate insurance coverage to protect your investment and belongings. Read your policy so that you understand its terms and conditions, including coverage limits, deductibles and exclusions. Consider consulting with an insurance agent to assess your coverage needs and explore options for additional coverage such as flood insurance or an umbrella liability insurance policy. 

Finally, take the time to celebrate this oh-so-significant milestone in your life. Moving into a new home is an achievement worth commemorating – so don’t forget to pause and appreciate the moment. Host a housewarming party to share your new space with friends and family, or simply take some time to relax and enjoy the comfort of your new home!

Finding help with these various tasks doesn’t have to be daunting. Clients who work with F.C. Tucker agents have lifelong access to the Tucker Home Services program. Home Services is Tucker’s exclusive, free network of over 200 vetted service and product providers dedicated to enhancing and maintaining your home before, during and after the move. Visit or talk to your Tucker agent about access.