I’ve Bought My First House — Now What?

Holding the keys to your very own — and very first home — is incredibly exciting. No one’s journey to homeownership is hardly ever dull. Is it OK to relax for a bit? Sure thing! But whether it’s your dream home or just a stepping stone away from the “rent” life, there are probably still a few things on your to-do list. You may be wondering now that you’ve bought your first house, “What’s next?” Well, we’re here to help. 

Home Maintenance Basics

Regardless of whether your home is brand new or practically a historical site, be aware of potential maintenance tasks. The sooner you write out your checklist and give yourself “due dates,” the less chance there is for major issues to occur. 

After all, this is your first home. You won’t have a landlord to lean on or a maintenance crew on-site (most likely). Learn as much as you can about the quirks of your home as early as you can. 

New Home Quick Checklist

What are some of the first things to take care of when you’ve bought your first house?

  • Make sure your utilities (and more) are set upYour home won’t feel homey without power, water, or any of the other essentials like the internet, cable, trash, and recycling. Change your mailing address so you don’t miss anything important. 
  • Understand how your home locks (and change it): If you have a digital entry in any of the doors of your home or garage, make sure you understand these systems. Reset your keycode and make sure all your family members know how to get in. Change the locks wherever there’s outside access — it’s actually an easy, quick fix!
  • Check on your appliances: Ordering takeout sounds fun for the first few days in your new place, but it’ll probably get old quick. Make sure your refrigerator is in working order, as well as your stove, range, dishwasher, washer, and dryer. 
  • Locate the main circuit breaker and water valve: Imagine blowing a fuse and ending up in the dark. Don’t let this ruin your evening or give you a scare. Locate the circuit breaker when you move in and familiarize yourself with how it works. Make sure you know where your water valve is too, in the event of a gushing sink or pipe. 
  • Pay attention to how your house drains: Notice big puddles in your yard near your home? Have someone inspect your gutters if you have any concerns. This pooling water could damage walls, affect your foundation, and more. 
  • Check your windows, doors, and attic insulation: Did you know that poor insulation is one of the top causes of high energy bills? Be aware of significant drafts and check that the attic has enough insulation.
  • Be careful when you drill into wallsHave a big family portrait to hang up? Buy or borrow a stud finder to locate the optimal positions for drilling so you don’t strike something important.
  • Do a deep clean: We know, we know. You’re probably exhausted. But giving floors, baseboards, counters, and cabinets a good scrub will make moving in all the more pleasant. Think about it, it’s not your own residual dirt and dust, who knows who it’s from or how long it’s been there. 

How to Prioritize Projects 

No matter what you’re working on, if you foresee multiple projects, don’t make the mistake of working on more than one at a time. You’ll feel overwhelmed and you’ll probably get less done. One project that’s 100% complete will give you much more satisfaction than five projects that are only 20% complete. Let this sense of accomplishment carry you into the next project with enthusiasm and energy. 

How do you know what projects to prioritize now that you’ve bought your first house? Pay attention to anything that could quickly escalate or cost additional money down the road. We’re talking potential pipe leaks, roof leaks, aggressive tree limbs, etc. Use your neighbors or coworkers as a resource or even ask your realtor if they know of any reputable handymen or professional tree-trimmers in the area.

Remember when we mentioned taking note of how well-insulated your home is? Grab a tube of caulk and go around the windows of your home if they seem drafty. Perhaps grab some weatherstripping for doors. This is a great and relatively quick way to save on energy costs, especially if you’re approaching the cooler months. 

It’s probably a good idea to create a homeowner’s binder to keep important documents in, such as contracts, warranties, and anything else, like project ideas. You can also digitize any physical papers you have and scan them into your computer if you prefer. 

House-warming Celebrations: What to Expect

Now for the fun part. Who doesn’t love an excuse to plan a get-together? It doesn’t have to be big or themed, or extravagant, it can be as simple as inviting a few new friends and loved ones to check out your new place.

A few things to consider when throwing your housewarming party:

  • Wait a few months: By principle, you may think that throwing a housewarming party means it needs to happen as soon as you have everything unpacked. Don’t put this stress on yourself. Give yourself time to breathe and settle in, rearrange rooms and furniture, paint, or decorate.
  • Suggest a potluck: Your home will quickly feel welcoming to others if you open it up to them to bring their favorite dishes to share. You’ll also save on food costs and not be overwhelmed by leftovers you don’t really want. 
  • Offer plenty of drinks: If you don’t want to go heavy on food, that’s totally fine, just make sure there are plenty of beverages to go around. Keep in mind some people just really love water and non-alcoholic beverages. That being said, you might consider creating a large batch of a signature cocktail. 
  • Decorating isn’t necessary: Don’t spend extra money on balloons or streamers — or worse, confetti — that you’ll just have to trash the next day. People are coming to see your home, not your home covered in other stuff. Light a few scented candles and make sure enough lights are on so guests can enjoy the tour. If it’s the holiday season, of course, feel free to decorate in a way that makes you happy. 
  • Just enjoy it: Remember, this is a big deal, and you should be happy for yourself. A housewarming party serves the purpose of making you feel comfortable and ready for anything in your new place. Don’t stress — you probably did enough of that before you moved in!

Let it sink in one more time, and have a little celebration just to yourself by saying, “I’ve bought my first house.”  For more home tips and home-owner advice, check out the rest of our blog

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