There are few milestones in life more thrilling than purchasing a home.
From the moment you decide a home is “the one”, through the showings, the bidding, the negotiations — it’s all electrifying. But it doesn’t feel really real until closing day, when you’re finally given the keys, the deed, the home.
But now what?
Well, closing day is really just the beginning of your journey. On closing day, you should expect a relatively straightforward transaction (we’ll go through it in some detail below) where the documents are reviewed and then money is exchanged. Then you’ll receive the keys and whatever else you need to access your new home.
But after that, you’ll need to get your own hands dirty. Remember that the home you’re moving into — unless it’s brand new — has been lived in for some time. You’ll need to pull out all the stops to ensure your new abode is spic and span and safe and sound for you and your family to live in.
Here’s everything you need to know about getting your feet wet after closing on a new home.
What you can expect on closing day
Closing day, otherwise known as the “money day”, is the day you’ve been waiting for since you first set your eyes on your new home. It’s the day when money changes hands from buyer to seller, the final documents are signed, and you walk away with the keys to the front door, the alarm code, the remote for the garage, and the legal title to the property.
It’s an exciting process, to be sure, but there are a few things that need to happen on closing day before you’re handed the keys to your new home.
In a Florida residential real estate closing, the parties at the table on closing day typically include the sellers and title company then the buyers and title company to sign documents. Before closing, the parties will review all the documents together and with their lender to decide if any changes need to be made to the existing paperwork or settlement statement before any money is exchanged.
The documents being reviewed might include:
- A warranty deed
- A closing disclosure and/or loan estimate
- Any riders attached to the property
- Affidavits and other title documents
- A bill or sale for furnishings that were agreed to outside of closing
After reviewing all the documents included in the agreements, the parties will proceed to sign the deed for the property. This will be sent to your city or county’s office for verification after the closing.
Once the parties sign, the funds are exchanged. The amount paid at closing will include a number of fees, such as legal fees and disbursements, and appraisal fees, as well as interest adjustments and title insurance. The seller will most likely want to be paid by a wire-transfer as that is the fastest way to obtain proceeds from the sale.
You will receive a warranty deed issued by the County within 45 days of closing, which will give you information about how to file for your homestead exemption should this property be a primary residence. The lender in the meantime will be building your escrow account for taxes and insurance and will make the payments on your behalf from this account.
What comes next?
So, you’ve got the keys. The papers are signed in your name. The reasonable next step is to start moving in, right?
Well, you may want to do some preparation first. Your home is indeed your castle, but your reign has only just begun. A monarch can’t just move into unknown territory without first finding the lay of the land. The secrets of your new palace are waiting to be discovered, and it’s better to deliberately seek them out than to let them catch you unaware. You are a dignified ruler, after all.
Ensure your new home is up to code
Make sure you have your new home inspected, top to bottom. It’s better to spot any problems as soon as you move in than to wait for them to go unnoticed and possibly get worse.
Florida’s hot, humid climate creates the perfect environment for a number of invasive pests, such as ants and roaches. A survey by Infogroup ranked Florida as the worst state for pests, with 90 per cent of homeowners saying they had experienced an insect infestation. It’s a good idea to invest in pest protection, so call your local extermination company for an inspection, and make sure to have inspections done regularly.
Having other maintenance experts come and expect your home is a good idea too. A general home inspection is usually conducted at the time of contract, but if your home has a pool or other specialized systems, they may not have been included in the inspection. Hire a company that specializes in inspecting any specialized systems you have in your home to ensure they are up to code.
If you have systems in your home that require specialized maintenance, such as pools, air conditioning, or a chimney/fireplace, invest in regular cleaning and maintenance.
It’s important to ensure these systems stay clean and functioning to guarantee they don’t break in the future. Some home systems which aren’t maintained properly can cost a mint to repair, so hiring specialized maintenance and cleaning services can save you money in the long run.
Lastly, make sure you do your due diligence and clean up any messes the previous homeowners may have left behind. Check the rain gutters. There’s no telling when these might have been cleaned last, and clogging can lead to a disaster. Replace the air conditioning filters. The previous homeowners may have never done this or may not have done this in a long time. Change the locks. Avoid keeping the same locks, as you don’t know who could have access to your home — better safe than sorry.
Get familiar with your new surroundings
Something equally as important as making sure your new home is safe is knowing how everything works, and where everything is.
One of the first things you should do is find where the main water valve and the main electric panel are. It’s very important to know where these two places are in the case of an emergency.
If there is ever an uncontrollable leak or flooding in your home, the very first thing you should do is shut off your main water valve. It can be located indoors or outdoors, but every home has one. It’s usually in a basement or crawl space, next to a water heater or furnace.
In the event that you need to make electrical repairs, a circuit shorts, or your home loses power, you may need to access the main circuit breaker, which is found in the main electric panel. This rectangular box is usually located on a wall in your laundry room or garage. The panel inside will be full of numbered switches, with a perpendicular switch labeled “ON/OFF”. That’s the main circuit breaker, which controls the power for the whole house.
Tie up any loose ends
Your home is looking great, and you feel confident living there — fantastic. But there’s still a few boxes left to tick.
Make sure you apply to change your legal address on your driver’s license as soon as possible, or else you could earn yourself a financial penalty. Additionally, if you moved from one state to another, check with your auto insurance to make sure your coverage hasn’t changed. Sometimes, auto insurance coverage varies depending on your area.
Lastly, you should contact your bank to see about getting a safe deposit box to secure any sensitive or important documents having to do with the purchase of your home, such as the mortgage documents, the deed, and your insurance papers. This way, you’re guaranteed not to lose any of your important documents in the event of a disaster or a theft, or any other misfortune that should befall you.
Closing day is probably one of the most exciting days of an individual’s life. The feeling of owning a new home is incomparable. But being prepared for what comes next is important, too.
Homeownership is a great privilege and a huge responsibility, but the more you know about what to expect, the more you will enjoy your experience.