Purchasing property is generally a complicated process that leaves many buyers feeling drained. Hiring a real estate agent, fixing up and listing a home, and finding a new place to live can take a lot of time and energy. By the time closing arrives, most homeowners eagerly hire a moving truck and unload their belongings as soon as possible. In the rush to finally move in, they forget to prepare their home for its new occupants. Before spending the first night in the new abode, homeowners should tackle a few key updates, preparations, and items on the new home checklist. It’ll simplify the moving transition and make your property a safe and enjoyable location.

  1. Copy important housing documents.

Immediately after closing on the home, buyers should make multiple copies of their home closing documents. Real estate agents will typically make additional copies if asked, or buyers can visit the local FedEx or Kinkos. Store the originals in a secure location, like a safe-deposit box at a trusted financial institution, and make at least one copy accessible in the new home. For additional security, use a fireproof safe. Some home insurance providers may ask for a copy of the documents as they set up coverage, so it’s essential to make these copies as soon as possible.

  1. Replace every lock.

New homeowners should also change manual locks found around the property; you never know who the previous owners gave extra house keys to. Exterior entry doors, detached garages, and storage sheds all need new lock sets. While most doors will need new locks entirely, homeowners have the option to hire a local locksmith to rekey the more unique and expensive sets.

Going digital is also a great solution for tech-savvy buyers and homeowners with a penchant for losing their keys. There are numerous digit keyless lock sets out there to choose from, and an experienced technician can offer additional assistance. Also, remember to reset the garage door keypad if there is one. For most garage door companies, instructions can be easily found online.

  1. Change the air filters.

New homeowners, in their rush to move in, constantly forget to change the air filters after closing. It’s recommended for furnace and air conditioner filters to be replaced every three months, so chances are, they need to be changed as soon as a buyer unloads the moving van. There are various options available when choosing between air filters, and the right filter has the ability to save homeowners money by working more efficiently. It’s best to measure and research air filters that work best for your property, improve air quality, and remove unwanted odors produced by the HVAC system.

  1. Prevent freezing water pipes.

Another common step missed by most new homeowners is the winterizing of water pipes. Especially prevalent in colder environments, water pipes are highly susceptible to freezing. To avoid this average annoyance, homeowners should inspect the property’s plumbing, identify the pipes and lines most vulnerable, and put suction cups around the water lines likely to freeze. Heat tape can also be used to winterize piping and is considered one of the preferred methods to protect plumbing.

For extra safety precautions, inspect the home’s exterior and look for visible cracks. Cold air traveling through minute cracks can freeze pipes furthest from unheated areas, causing them to burst. If you stumble upon any cracks, seal them with caulk or spray foam to eliminate the cold air. If plumbing is not your forte, call a local plumber or reputable handyman to prevent your pipes from freezing before moving in.

  1. Adjust the water heater.

After gaining access to the home, buyers should check the water heater temperature and adjust it. If you have small children in the family or who visit often, it’s suggested to dial the temperature down to 120°F or lower. This reduces the risk of bathwater burns and accidental scalds.

  1. Clean out the gutters.

Another big item most new homeowners miss is the condition of the gutters. Though sometimes revealed and fixed in the pre-closing appraisal or final walkthrough, many homes’ gutters are completely ignored and considered a cosmetic issue to be solved by the buyers after closing. If leaves, debris, and other gunk block the rain flow, new homeowners can end up with a costly water leak. Thankfully, gutter cleaning can be easily remedied within an afternoon and done by the buyer or an inexpensive handyman.

  1. Measure and install window treatments.

Before spending the first night in your new place, it’s ideal to install window treatments to ensure privacy. Home sellers often take curtains and blinds with them as they move, leaving buyers with the task of measuring, purchasing, and hanging treatments their first night in the home. It’s best to order and be ready to hang the blinds before moving day — but if that’s not possible, new homeowners can tack up sheets in the most essential rooms (i.e. any bedrooms and bathrooms).

  1. Hire a pest control company.

Pest problems are typically discovered during home inspections before closing. If found early, some sellers are willing to handle the issue before finalizing the sale. Other sellers will subtract pest expenses in the purchase agreement for the buyers to hire their own pest control company. With the latter, it’s best for new homeowners to research and hire an exterminator to assess the property and spray pesticide if needed. Even if you don’t see any evidence of unwanted bugs, it’s a good idea to have a professional check before unpacking. Once the U-Haul is unpacked, it’s more difficult to detect property damage due to termites and other insects.

  1. Check out the neighborhood.

Buyers new to the neighborhood or region should scope out the area before moving in. It’s essential to know where the closest grocery stores and medical facilities are located in case of an emergency. Having a general idea where the various entertainment, dining, and shopping venues also makes a new home feel more comfortable.