This is the tenth article in my series called Buying a Home 101: Everything You Didn’t Know You Needed to Know Before You Buy Your First Home. This step-by-step series will take you through the entire home-buying process — from finding a buyer’s agent to settlement day, and even maintaining your home after you’re all moved in.
You don’t want any surprises on closing day. As a buyer, ensuring a smooth transition to becoming the homeowner should be set in motion well before you sit down with the sellers that day.
Here’s my handy breakdown with your final to-do’s so you’re all set when you close:
Check Off Pre-Closing Tasks
You’re moving into a new home so you want to make sure it’s all ready for you and your family. Now is a good time to get certain appointments booked and accounts set up.
Connect your utilities
You don’t want to move in without any power turned on! Get in touch with the electric company (such as Pepco or Dominion) to set up your new electric account. You can sometimes arrange a transfer prior to the sellers closing their account, and you will avoid a re-connect fee.
Depending on whether you have gas or if water is included in your condo fees, you may need to contact those services too.
Set up all of your accounts to start on the day of your settlement.
You can get cable and internet service at a later date (if you can survive for a bit!). However, you can schedule your appointments now for a convenient date.
Contact your insurance company
Make sure you have your homeowners/hazard insurance starting on the date of settlement as well. Also be sure to send a copy of the policy to your lender. You pay for the first full year at settlement, so no need to pay anything prior.
Consider a Home Warranty
If you want to protect yourself in case anything goes wrong with your new home, you do have the option of buying a home warranty. The idea is that if something breaks, you would call the home warranty company to repair or replace it.
Get Prepared for Closing Day
When the big day arrives, you want to make sure you have everything you need, including any necessary funds. You don’t want to be rushing around at the last minute, so read over my list below.
What to bring to settlement
Bring your driver’s license and a certified check made out to the title company for the rest of the funds that you still owe. If your check isn’t enough, you can bring a personal check and write it up to $1,000. It’s always good to bring a personal checkbook for any last minute items.
If you are moving funds around, please be aware that banks typically put at least a 3-day hold on large transfers. If you’d prefer to wire your funds directly to the title company instead of bringing a certified check, get the instructions from your agent.
Obtain a copy of the Closing Disclosure form (it replaced the HUD-1 Settlement Statement). This form lists all final terms of the loan you’ve selected, final closing costs, and the details of who pays and who receives money at closing. Your lender should send you a Closing Disclosure at least three business days before closing. It looks something like this.
Mark your calendar for the time to meet at your new home for the final walk-through. This is usually scheduled just prior to the actual closing. This is your opportunity to inspect the home and its condition. It also enables you to confirm that any items that you and the seller have agreed to remain or convey are there.
This is an exciting time since you’re almost in your new home! You don’t want anything to be delayed or forgotten right now so double check that all tasks have been completed. Put a big red check mark next to each item when done!
My final article in the Buying a Home 101 series is next week. (You’ll also get a bonus article on maintaining your home for week 13.) I hope you now have the confidence and knowledge to buy a home! Stay tuned for next week’s article — How to Make Your Settlement Successful.