I got the keys…. Now what?
Many times as a new home buyer you are so focused about moving and getting to the closing day that you don’t think about some of the simple questions until you open the door to your new home. The problem is that there’s so much information flying at you during your purchase period that it’s often easy to not remember some of the pertinent information or simply forget to ask!
Here are a few common questions, suggestions, tips and tricks to help you in those first hours and days in your new home:
Does anyone else have keys to my house or codes to my security system or garage door? The truth is that there’s no way to know if the former owner has any keys floating around in the wild or if they’ve given any codes out. They obviously know the codes they set, so it’s always a good idea to have the locks rekeyed by a professional locksmith and your garage door and security codes reset.
Where do I find the furnace filter to change it? Furnace filters on a forced air system are usually in one of two places: either within the furnace itself or held fast to the inside of the cold air return. The cold air return will usually be in the ceiling, so it’s pretty easy to spot. In most homes, it’s also the largest vent you’ll find. However, in homes that were built before central heat and air were common, you may find that you have more than one place to put a filter — make sure to replace all of these smaller filters at the same time. If your furnace filter is inside the furnace, just flip the small door on the furnace open and you’ll see the edge of the filter and be able to nab it.
Where’s the breaker box? Again, this will depend largely on the age of your home, but common breaker box locations are: inside an attached garage, in a secondary bedroom closet and in a utility room. If you still can’t find your breaker box, go outside and look for your electric meter. Your breaker box should be nearby, either on the outside of the house in a waterproof box or on the opposite side of the wall inside.
Where’s the attic access? If you’ve been through your house and still can’t find the attic access, you’ll want to start looking inside closets. For a while this was a really popular place to construct attic accesses. Other spots to look include your garage and, in rare situations, on the outside of the house if there’s a flat roof or upstairs porch that could allow safe access. If you still can’t find it, reference your home inspection report or call your home inspector, they’ll have a record of where the attic door was located.
How do I use my climate control equipment? A basic thermostat is pretty simple to use, you choose heat or cool and set the temperature you want. But if you’ve inherited a fancy pants programmable thermostat — or worse (but kind of better) — a Nest or similarly next gen thermostat, things can get pretty hairy. We recommend an internet search and watching a few YouTube videos. And if that doesn’t work – most times we can reach out to the Sellers Agent to try and get additional information for you!
What day does the trash run? Trash collection is handled in many different ways, depending on where you live, even changing from neighborhood to neighborhood. If you haven’t already established trash collection and have no idea who to call, there may be a bin left behind by the former owners to clue you in on where to start. If not, this is definitely a good time to call us.
Who do I contact at my HOA with questions? The paperwork package you got at closing will have all sorts of documents in it, from your mortgage agreement to your Closing Disclosure and the details of your Homeowner Association agreement. You should have a list of current officers, as well as rules and information on who to contact with questions.
How do I use my home warranty? When you get a home warranty with a house, it’s kind of like taking out an insurance policy. You get a little bit of information at closing, so there should be a flyer or something similar in your closing package, but a few days after you move in you’ll also get a big envelope full of details about what coverage you actually bought. If you need to use your home warranty before that package comes, call the number on the flyer and the friendly folks at your home warranty company will help you through it.
The big thing to remember is… you are not alone in your home ownership adventure because we are here to assist you and answer questions even after your closing. We are here to be a lifelong resource for you and offer you assistance and reassurance when you need it!