Main Content

16 things you need to do as a first-time homeowner

It took a lot of scrimping and saving, but you finally did it; you’ve gone through all the steps to buying a house and are ready to move in. Owning a home is a big responsibility, however, requiring you to develop healthy homeowner habits.

Allow us to help you along with this list of 22 things you need to do as a new homeowner. The sooner you can get these things done, the better.

  1. Change the locks
    Changing the locks is the absolute first thing you must do. There’s no telling who has a spare copy of the old keys.
  2. Look for a good hiding place for duplicate house keys
    Keeping a spare key outside the house can be a good idea. Keeping it under a flowerpot is not. That’s the first place a thief will look. Lock them away in lockboxes.
  3. Reset key codes
    If you’ve got a garage door or a gate that requires a key code, then you need to change them. Once again, who knows the code?
  4. Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms
    You don’t know when the old owner last checked your safety detectors so make sure all are in good working order. If you have to replace these alarms, put them on top of your to-do list.
  5. Reset the water heater to your preferred temperature
    What temperature is the heater set to? Is it at the right setting for your family? Manufacturers generally have a default setting of 140 degrees but that’s often to hot for most people. The Department of Energy recommends adjusting the heat to 120 degrees.
  6. Check security lights
    Did the previous owner install security lights? If so, double-check that they are working properly. If not, fix them or upgrade to a later model, if you wish.
  7. Buy fire extinguishers
    There should be a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and at least one extinguisher per floor in the house.
  8. Do your maintenance planning
    Get in the habit of effective maintenance – and general good housekeeping habits – by creating a calendar to remind you of your maintenance schedule.
    Set reminders for:

    • Cleaning out the dryer. The dryer hose and vent should be cleaned out at least once per year. Clogged drains cause fires. There’s no way to tell when it was last cleaned out too.
    • Changing HVAC filters. Air conditioning is great, but only if you replace the filters once per season at the very least. Changing filters can save you more money on both heating and cooling to ensure that your unit lasts longer.
    • HVAC maintenance. Arrange to have your system maintained twice a year – once in the spring and again in the fall.
    • Draining the water heater. Do this once a year.
    • Clearing out gutters. Undertake annually.
  9. Obtain a maintenance report
    One of the steps to buying a house is acquiring a maintenance report from your Pierce County Realtors. Check if there are items in the report that weren’t fixed or addressed. Add the overlooked items on your to-do list. You want to get these things out of the way before they turn into bigger – not to mention more expensive – problems.
  10. Prepare for emergencies
    As they say, “Failure to prepare is preparing for failure.” The worst time to put together an emergency response plan is during the actual emergency.
  11. Find out the main source of your water, electricity, and gas.

    • You can shut off the main water valve in case you bust a pipe. You don’t want water ruining kitchen floors, leaking from upstairs bathrooms, or flooding your lawn – scenarios that will mean money that’s literally down the drain when it comes time to fix the resultant water damage.
    • Label the circuit breakers on the main electrical circuit box so you can react faster in an emergency.
    • If the home runs on natural gas, you’ll need to know where the main valve is if you need to shut it off in case of leaks or repairs.
  12. Test the sump pump
    Check the sump pump in your home if you have one to make sure excess ground water doesn’t leak into the basement or crawl space.
  13. Add key contact numbers
    Aside from 911, add the following numbers to your phone:
    • Utilities
    • Insurance
    • Electrician
    • Plumber
  14. Create an emergency supply kit
    Assemble a kit with the following items:
    • Water and non-perishable food items
    • Flashlights or lanterns (with spare batteries)
    • Blankets and warm clothing
    • Backup batteries, chargers, and fully charged power banks for your mobile devices
  15. Place home and mortgage documents in a safe
    These home and mortgage documents will come in handy during disputes with mortgage providers and neighbors. They also help you to keep track of due dates. Keep original documents in a safety deposit box or fireproof safe and keep copies of the following documents:
    • Property survey
    • Lender contact information
    • Final closing documents
    • Inspection report
    • Insurance documents
  16. Automate payments
    Automate bill payments and mortgage payments and never worry about missing deadlines.
  17. Are you looking to buy a home in the highly entrepreneurial Eastern Washington counties of Pierce, King, and Thurston where the State Capitol is located? If so, you need a real estate agent you can trust.

    You can rely on me, Lori Lewandowski, a full-time, full-service, award-winning Realtor who’s served countless clients throughout the decades.

    My reputation as a solid achiever among my peers and clients is well known. I believe that staying ahead of the curve is the key.

    • Top 1% of the Chairman’s Circle Award
    • Honored multiple times with the Presidents Elite Sales Award, Presidents Gold Award, and Presidents Award
    • Member of the Association of Realtors
    • Member of the Multiple Listing Service

For proven expertise and unparalleled customer care in handling your real estate needs, give me a call at 253.617.5922 or send me an email at lorilewandowski(at)gmail(dotted)com today.