I’ve been working as a Realtor here in the Twin Cities for 5 years now and have spent much of my time working with first-time homebuyers. I pride myself on educating home buyers throughout the entire process. There are so many things to know about owning a home and, as a homeowner myself for several years now, I truly enjoy passing along as much information as I possibly can!
And, unless you bought a total fixer-upper, moving into the new house is at the top of the list. But, slow down there, Skippy. You have a few things to take care of if you want to ensure that the home is safe and in move-in condition. These projects are best done before moving in, while the home is empty. That being said, I know it’s not always possible to spend a few days fixing things up before you move in, so just do the best you can!
1. Change them locks, Stat!
In my opinion, this is one of the most important first steps when moving into your new home, that often gets overlooked….believe it or not! Since you have no way of knowing how many sets of house keys are floating around out there, changing the locks before moving in is a no-brainer. It’s an easy, quick and inexpensive way to have peace of mind. A new, front-door lock set will run you about $65 at your local hardware store. Depending on how many sets you need to change out, this shouldn’t cost you much more than a couple hundred dollars and a few hours of your time. Get goin!
2. Clean, Clean, Clean, Clean…
Working as a “buyer’s agent”, one of the more common questions I get is: “How clean will the house be when I/we take possession?” That’s a very tough question to answer because there isn’t really an exact answer. Everyone has a different definition of clean, so you can imagine what some homes may look like upon opening the front door for the first time…! I just always tell my clients to plan on doing a deep, thorough cleaning; from top to bottom.
BuzzFeed offers a great article with 31 ways to deep clean your house!
When choosing which cleaning products to use, it seems like there’s a myriad of options out there-most of which, quite frankly, are absolutely laced with toxic chemicals. And, if you’ve got little ones running around chewing and sucking on EVERYTHING, it’s super important to use cleaning products that are completely non-toxic and safe for you and your family. Some cleaning products are even enhanced with 100% therapeutic grade essential oils. Those essential oils work on a molecular level and will have your home cleaner than you could ever imagine! For more information about Young Living essential oils and their “Thieves” cleaning line of products CLICK HERE or head on over to Facebook.
Here are some cleaning ideas for commonly missed items:
- All windows and screens
- HVAC ductwork (best done professionally)
- Kitchen appliances….especially the stove
- Fireplace-if there is one (definitely have done professionally)
- Steam clean carpets
- Power wash exterior siding and/or deck
3. Gas, Water & Electric…
One of the first things you need to do is notify your utility companies; preferably before moving into your new house. Often times, you can get contact information from previous owner, for such providers as gas, electric, water, internet, cable and garbage haulers. In most places, you will need to have the basic services in your name before you move in. This one is probably the “least fun” tasks involved with home ownership BUT it is absolutely necessary.
4. Closet Systems…
My wife and I bought this exact closet hanging system, brought to you by Martha Stewart herself, and have absolutely loved it! It’s a great way to take a blank wall and turn it into a “walk-in” closet. Sometimes you may not even be actually walking into an actual closet. If you have a huge master bedroom, but no actual walk-in closet, then you can literally make one of your walls or a portion of it, a closet hanging system–pretty sweet! Here’s a short video that will show you how this thing works!
5. Familiarize Yourself with Your Circuit Breaker Box & Main Water Valve…
Depending on how “handy” you are, you may end up needing to replace a broken light fixture or install new electrical outlets or any other minor electrical fix; both of which are VERY common tasks for a homeowner (especially if you own a home that’s a little older in age). And, unless you want to pay a licensed electrician to do the work for you, you’ll need to know where the main electrical panel is so you can turn off the power and avoid electrocuting yourself! Here’s a short video that covers the basics.
You’ll also want to know where the main water shutoff valve is, in case of a major plumbing emergency or any type of plumbing repair. That said, I would recommend leaving the plumbing repairs to a professional. Water can be a dangerous animal. You might also want to turn the water off if there’s a tornado or hurricane in the near vicinity. Here in Minnesota we don’t really have to worry about that thankfully. We do, however, have the opportunity to embrace large piles of fluffy, white snow! Just locate the valve — it could be inside or outside your house — and turn the knob until it’s off. Test it by turning on any faucet in the house; no water should come out. Here’s another short video that covers some of the basics.
6. Steam Cleaning Your Carpets…
It’s hard to know when the last time this was done, but a good guess would be….NEVER! This is one of those things that will definitely be much easier in a home that isn’t already full of furniture and boxes, from floor to ceiling. You can have it done professionally for about $50 per room or rent a unit yourself for approximately $30-$40 per day. If you or someone in your family has seasonal or pet allergies, this is definitely something worth doing! Many times, the same company that will clean your carpets will also have the capability to clean your HVAC ductwork. My wife and I have this done every couple of years and I’d say it’s totally worth it.
7. Make it safe for the little ones…
As a father to two of my own beautiful daughters, this one is especially important to me and my wife. Take a tour of the home while it’s vacant, with an eye toward possible hazards to pets and kids. You’ll need electrical outlet covers and cupboard latches, of course, but where else do hazards exist? Will you need to buy baby/pet gates to block stairway access?
Take a tour of the garage and decide if you’ll need to build shelves to keep chemicals, paint, sharp tools and the like up high and out of the reach of the little ones – both two and four legged.
Walk around the exterior of the home, taking note of what’s planted in the landscape. Plants, such as oleander, foxglove, rhododendron and even the charming lily-of-the-valley are toxic if ingested and, in the case of oleander, if the fumes are inhaled while burning the plant. If you have any doubts about the toxicity of a particular plant, check The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ large database of toxic and non-toxic plants.
Finally, check the fencing for any space large enough for a pet or child to squeeze through and the irrigation system to ensure none of the sprinkler heads are stuck in an upright position, causing a tripping hazard. Sure, it’s frustrating to slow down the move-in process once the house is yours and you have the keys in hand. But taking a weekend to ensure the home is safe and habitable can save your family from safety hazards and from being inconvenienced in the long run.
Check out these other great home buying resources from other Realtors around the globe!
- How Do Emotion and Logic Influence Which House We Buy? by Andrew Fortune
- How To Make An Offer On An Overpriced Home? by Kyle Hiscock
- 5 Things First-Time Home Buyers Should Do First by Dustin Brohm
- Home Insurance For First-Time Buyers: What You Need To Know by Bill Gassett
- 16 Things NOT to Do When Buying a House by Ryan Fitzgerald
- 8 Reasons To Get a Home Inspection Before You Buy a House by Xavier De Buck
- Steps To Buying A Home While Carrying A Student Loan by Wendy Weir
Whether you’re buying or selling a home in this Twin Cities housing market, it’s very important to understand where the market was, where it currently is, and where it’s possibly headed. Right now, in this Twin Cities real estate market, buyers and sellers are experiencing a real estate market, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the early 2000’s! It’s more important than ever to “read up” on the current trends in real estate so you can be as prepared as possible to have a successful real estate transaction!
For more tips and tricks to save you time and money check out the rest of my real estate blog HERE!
About the Author: The above article “7 Tasks To Tackle Before Moving Day“ has been written and provided by Justin Culley. Justin is a full-time, professional Realtor with RE/MAX Professionals, and has helped many people buy and sell throughout the entire Twin Cities metro for years. If you are in the market to BUY or SELL a home and would like his expert advice, he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 612-581-6842. Let’s connect! Are you thinking of selling your home? I’m very good at marketing homes to sell quickly, and for more money. If you’re a first-time home buyer then you’ll be in good hands too. I’ve helped countless first-time home buyers through the entire process of buying their first home! I have a real passion for helping folks buy and sell homes here in the great state of Minnesota and I would love to connect with you! I help people buy and sell real estate in the following Twin Cities area cities & neighborhoods: Eagan, Hugo, Highland, Inver Grove Heights, Lake Elmo, Mac-Groveland, Mahtomedi, Oakdale, White Bear Lake and Woodury to name a few. Other specialty areas include: Kenny, Lyndale, Tangletown, Lynhurst, Armatage, Kingfield and Carag neighborhood.
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