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New Home Checklist Before You Move In

There's nothing like the thrill of a new home! If you've recently bought a new home or plan to buy one soon, it's essential to know the do's and don'ts after you've signed your papers but before you've gotten the keys. In addition to planning your big move, keep these items at the top (or bottom) of your to-do list.

Couple standing in their new backyard smiling.

Moving In House Checklist

You'll never be more excited about housework than when you get your first set of house keys. Now that they're in your hands, you've got some work ahead to set yourself up for homeowner success!

  1. Change The Locks: Remember safety first and consider changing your locks and programming a new garage and/or alarm code before you move in. You never know who the previous owner gave a set of keys to, and it's much better to be safe than sorry.
  2. Know the Location of Emergency Shut-Off Switches: Before you move those boxes inside, know where the circuit box and all emergency shut-off switches are. This will help you save time if an emergency happens, like knocking into a pedestal sink too hard, watching it tilt to the side, and facing a geyser from the floor.
  3. Update Important Documents with Your New Address: Other than your driver's license, you'll need to update your voter registration, your employer, bank, subscription services, and any other relevant companies or institutions about your move so they know where to send important letters and other information.
  4. Set Up Utilities: Before moving into your new place, contact all your new utility companies (electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash) to transfer services into your name. Don't forget about setting up your internet, and if you can, ask the neighbors which company they use since not all internet companies service all areas or have the same speeds everywhere. This way, everything will be working before you move in!
  5. Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: If you had your home professionally inspected, ensure the inspector tested the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. A good rule of thumb after your initial move-in is to check your detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. A smoke detector should be changed out every 10 years.
  6. Get Home Insurance: Accidents happen all the time, so make sure you get your home insurance in line. You can sign up once you close on your home, but if you haven't closed yet, find the company you want to go with so you'll know exactly who to call. If you don't, you'll receive reminder letters from your lender to get it, but eventually, your lender will get homeowners insurance for you. It will be much more expensive if your lender gets it than if you got it yourself!
  7. Check Warranty Information on Appliances: TIf your home comes with brand-new appliances, review their warranty information. Make sure to register any items requiring registration so they're covered under the warranty program if something breaks later.
  8. Create a Repair List & Maintenance Schedule: Keep a list of all the fixes you'd like to make if you can't get all of them taken care of as part of your home purchase. Use the home inspection report to help you create your list. Prioritize your list and start saving to pay for the repairs. Other than the big stuff that might have to wait, you should do a variety of things at different points in the year to maintain your home, so it's a good idea to keep a maintenance checklist handy to help guide you. Not only does this keep things in good shape, but it also prevents having to pay for huge repairs down the road!

Why is the Mortgage Quiet Period Important

The time between your loan being approved and closing on your new home is called the "mortgage quiet period," which means just that: After your loan approval and before the close of escrow, keep as financially silent as possible until you're comfortably moved into your new home. Why? Even though a lender has approved your loan, it's only complete once it's funded and recorded with the county. If the funder sees significant spikes in your lifestyle, you might not be moving at all. We'll discuss more in a bit, but that's because your home loan has yet to close, so if you have any changes to your finances, you may no longer qualify for your home loan.

  • Celebrate Responsibly: Buying a house is stressful, so when your offer is finally accepted, it's a cause for celebration! Just ensure you keep it within budget, like dinner out with friends or taking some time at home to savor your accomplishment until you get the keys to your new home.
  • Keep Your Credit Calm: The critical point to remember during the mortgage quiet period is not to do anything to negatively affect your credit. Many people don't realize they should not change their employment or make purchases of any type that could impact the final approval of their mortgage. Also, avoid doing anything that may lower your credit score. That important number incorporates credit information about individuals to help lenders predict consumer behavior, such as how likely someone is to pay bills on time or if they can manage an increased credit line.
  • Wait to Buy Anything New: If you want to buy anything for your new home, wait until you have those house keys in hand and continue paying all your bills as usual. Keeping your finances quiet also means not applying for any new credit, such as another credit card or a new car, since that can lower your score and change your debt-to-income ratio. When your lender goes to close your home loan, a new credit report is pulled beforehand, and any changes to your finances will require new explanations and possibly result in your loan being delayed or even denied.
  • Keep Your Bank Deposits Consistent: Large non-regular deposits into your bank accounts will also require source information, and your lender will want to know if it's a loan and where the money came from. Be prepared to offer explanations with supporting documentation. Of course, avoid overdrafts to your checking account, verify that you're up to date on any income taxes due (or have filed for the appropriate extensions), and be prepared to provide updated bank statements and pay stubs before closing. Following these steps can make the difference between a smooth closing and a bumpy experience.

After You Sign the Paperwork, But Before You Get the Keys: The Don'ts

  • Avoid Major Life Changes: This includes changing jobs or your income, which can affect your ability to qualify for your loan before it closes.
  • Avoid Major Life Changes: This includes changing jobs or your income, which can affect your ability to qualify for your loan before it closes.
  • Do Not Add to Your Debt: Taking on more debt (a new car, maxing out your credit card, etc.) can add to your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which is a key piece of information that's used to approve or deny a loan. Lenders pull credit again to verify that your DTI ratio aligns with the loan program and that you're not overextended on your financial obligations. Financial institutions will complete their due diligence and verify that all borrowers are still employed and can repay the loan.
  • Overspend on Furniture: It's tempting to buy quality furniture, but before you splurge, take the time to understand your new space's needs. That means waiting until after you move in to buy and see what you really need and what can wait for a bit.
  • Neglect Emergency Preparedness: Emergencies are never convenient, so make sure you're prepared and know exactly where the local fire station, police station, and hospital are so you know where to go and how long it might take to get help at home if you need it. Once you've moved in, you can pack a bag with the essentials and take note of the emergency exits and how to cut off electricity and water at the house, just in case. Remember to buy a fire extinguisher while you're at it.
  • Ignore Legal and Financial Documents: It's essential to keep a well-organized file or binder for all the paperwork related to your home purchase, including mortgage documents, warranties, insurance policies, and any contracts for easy reference in the future.
  • Rush into Renovations: Making a home your own is part of the fun of owning a house, but take your time and see what's important to you before tackling any big projects. Understand the flow of your new home before committing to any changes, as you might change your mind after the first few months of living there.

WaFd Bank is Here to Help

At WaFd Bank, we know navigating the buying and selling process can be tricky. We've been specializing in helping people achieve their home ownership dreams for more than 100 years. We offer mortgage loans with competitive interest rates, not to mention friendly and knowledgeable loan officers. To find out more, visit your local branch, give us a call at 800-324-9375, or open an account online.

All loans subject to credit approval.


Find your local WaFd Bank Branch


Find your local WaFd Bank Branch

We're nearby, and we'll sit down with you and answer any questions you may have.