Checklists, checklists. Buying a home and moving into it can involve countless lists. Documents for loan approval? Check. Packing list? Check. Changes of address? Check. And these lists don't even take into consideration selling your old home!
As closing day approaches, some buyers – especially first-time homebuyers – experience a little anxiety. That's normal. You've come this far and the last thing you want is an eleventh-hour glitch on closing day that could jeopardize your sale. I've found that the best protection against anxiety is to be prepared.
Once your final contract has been accepted, there are a few items to get out of the way. Here is a checklist that outlines some important steps to take as you lead up to your closing date:
• Contract for a home inspection. Choose a respected inspection service – your real estate agent should be able to help you with this. If you require any special inspections, such as radon detection, a pool inspection, or a pest inspection, arrange for all the necessary inspectors. If there are any issues that arise during the inspections, arrange to go over the concerns with your agent and list anything that you want the seller to address.
• Contact your lender and provide a copy of the final contract so that you can lock in that all-important interest rate on your mortgage loan. Your lender can also arrange for an appraisal of the property you are buying.
• Contract with your moving company to arrange a moving date and do a pre-move walk-through to identify items that may need special consideration if you haven't already done so.
• Put the closing date on your calendar and clear your schedule for that time. Make sure your agent and lender also have the date on their agendas.
• Change your address for all of your bills, subscriptions, employers, and friends and family. The post office can forward your mail for a certain amount of time in case any important companies or individuals slip your mind, so take advantage of this valuable service.
• Make sure that your insurance company has you on the books to activate your homeowner's insurance the day you take possession of your new home.
• Transfer or set up utilities at your new address. Make sure you know which companies to contact for services in your new home – your agent can help you with this information.
• Obtain and read over the details of the paperwork from the closing attorney. The paperwork involved at close is voluminous and you may need additional time to look it over.
• Schedule a final walk-through of the property to verify that everything is as you expect. Make sure to confirm that the seller has addressed any issues that were supposed to be fixed based on the inspection.
• Have your certified funds for closing in hand by the time closing day occurs.
• Verify with your real estate agent or attorney which documents you will need to bring to the closing. These generally include photo identification, certified funds for the sale, and your insurance policy, but other paperwork may be necessary; make certain you have all these in hand before you show up at the closing.
Finally, pop open a bottle of champagne and enjoy the fruits of the paper chase. You're a new home owner. Congratulations!