It has been six days since I became a (town)homeowner, and as you might have guessed, I haven’t stopped running since the first box hit the moving truck. I’ll be the first to admit adulthood has been pretty easy for me (except for that period when I was interning and living off my ever-dwindling savings account, wondering when I’d have to give in and get a second job). So when I was finally introduced to the world of owning a home, it was quite a wake-up call.
Hopefully, if you are in the market for your first home, as I know several of Breslanta’s readers are, these tips will make the transition a little smoother. It’s not all bad — I’m really proud of my new place and the hassle has been totally worth it!
– It’s never too early to get everything hooked up. I mentioned in a past article that it’s imperative to start the home search as soon as possible in this market, but when your move-in date nears, it’s just as important to plan ahead with utilities. Cable companies might have a full schedule if you wait for too long, and not all utility companies can turn on your gas, water or electric at the drop of a hat. Well, they can, but they won’t. Which brings me to my next point …
– Utility companies are the devil. I’m sure my lights will go off as soon as I publish this article, but I need to say it. They’re terrible. Prepare for fees, more fees, and then a few fees on top of that. For example: The power company wanted me to pay a $200 deposit to turn on my lights. Or I could get a credit check. When the credit check came back, they waived the fee, only to tell me I’d need to pay a different $65 fee to turn the lights on. When I told them my lights were already on, they dropped it down to a $25 “origination fee.” They’ll always get their money.
– You get by with a little help from your friends. I can’t tell you how lucky I’ve been to have great people help me through this process. My friends referred me to a great real estate agent, and if you ask around, your friends will probably be able to do the same. My parents made sure my first paycheck after the move wasn’t spent entirely on a washer and dryer, and my girlfriend’s parents hooked me up with a new toaster and a freezer full of meat and potatoes. It’s taken a lot of stress off the process.
– You’ll become numb to writing huge checks. A $300 check used to be painful to write out if it wasn’t a routine monthly bill or rent payment. When you move in, you’ll write several of them. Inspections, appraisals, closing costs, bug guys, the whole enchilada. It got to the point where I was guessing the price of the next check I was writing out, and I got pretty good at it. Prepare for this.
– Move in April. Doesn’t it always seem like you’re moving in August, the hottest and most miserable month to move heavy items? Don’t do it. Moving in the spring (after the pollen has cleared, preferably) makes the process a lot less torturous. You’ll sweat, but you won’t August sweat.
– Hire movers. It’ll cost you a couple hundred dollars, but since you’re already numb to the check-writing, why not? If you choose the right movers, they’re friendly, professional and can get your stuff from Point A to Point B rapidly. Plus, you won’t be exhausted when you’re done with the move, meaning you’ll be more productive when it comes to unpacking.
– The inspectors can’t catch everything. Set aside some money for small problems that happen as soon as you move in. Luckily, I bought a place that was flipped recently, so none of the issues I saw required immediate attention, but that sink with the broken stopper will eventually need to be replaced. Be prepared to not be as lucky as me.