If you have recently bought a new home — or plan to buy one soon — it's important to know what to do once you've signed your papers and received your new keys.
In addition to planning your big move, make sure to keep these items at the top of your to-do list.
- Think about your safety. After you get into your new house, you may want to get your locks changed and program new garage codes. Consider installing an alarm system. If already installed, you'll need to contact a local alarm company to set up service.
- Check out the warranty information on new appliances. If your home came with brand new appliances, it is a good idea to review their warranty information. Make sure to register any items that require registration in order to have that item covered under the warranty program.
- Consider purchasing a home warranty unless you're already covered.A home warranty helps cover repairs of major appliances or systems like your oven, dishwasher or heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC). If purchasing a home warranty, make sure to do your research to find a plan that best meets your needs. Most newly built homes come with a builder's warranty, which may cover all of the permanent parts of your home for a certain period of time. This may include your flooring, electrical and plumbing.
- Transfer the utilities into your name. Before moving into your new place, contact all of the utility companies (electricity, gas, water, trash) to move services into your name so they are not turned off.
- Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If you had your home professionally inspected, make sure the home 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.
- Create your list of repairs. Keep a list of all fixes you would like to make if you were unable to get all of the repairs taken care of as part of your home purchase. Use the home inspection report to help you create your list. Make sure to prioritize your list and start saving to pay for the repairs. WaFd Bank offers a free online app-based budgeting tool where you can track what you spend and what you save.
- Develop your maintenance schedule. There are a number of things you should do at different points in the year to maintain your home. Keep a maintenance checklist handy to help guide you.
- Know where all emergency shut-offs and the circuit box are located. This will help you save time in emergency situations.
What to consider if thinking about buying
Haven't bought a new home yet but interested in becoming a homeowner? Ask yourself these questions to see if you are ready to take the plunge.
- Do you have a steady income? Before purchasing a home, it's important that you can maintain your income at its current level (or higher). You'll need to show your employment and salary history to qualify for a loan.
- Do you have good credit? Strong credit scores may help keep your interest rate low on a new loan.
- Is your debt-to-income ratio low? A debt-to-income ratio helps lenders determine how much home you can afford to buy when qualifying for a mortgage. The ratio is determined by dividing your monthly debt payments by your gross monthly income (the amount you make before taxes and other deductions).
- How much home can you afford? Some experts recommend that you do not spend more than 28% of your gross income on mortgage payments. Check out WaFd Bank's home loan calculator to calculate possible monthly mortgage payments.
- Do you have an emergency fund? When it comes to saving, many experts recommend having enough money available to cover three to six months of living expenses. After paying a down payment and closing costs on your home, make sure you still have money in your emergency fund.
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MEMBER FDIC, Equal Housing Lender, loans subject to credit approval
Sources (outside of WaFd Bank):
- Federal Trade Commission: https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/warranties-new-homes and https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/free-credit-reports
- National Center for Healthy Housing: https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/DOC_12334.PDF
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-is-a-debt-to-income-ratio-why-is-the-43-debt-to-income-ratio-important-en-1791/
- Money.com: https://money.com/how-to-know-financially-ready-buy/
- Washington State Department of Financial Institutions: https://dfi.wa.gov/financial-education/information/emergency-savings