Adventures in Home Buying Part 4: The BIG Move
By Erica Root
Over the course of this series I have taken you through the steps of selecting a real estate agent and mortgage broker. We’ve learned about setting your expectations for a home, making an offer and a few other steps in between. If you want to get caught up on the series, check out Adventures in Home Buying Parts 1-3 below:
- Adventures in Home Buying 1: Selecting a real estate agent and mortgage broker, getting pre-approved for a home loan
- Adventures in Home Buying 2: Must haves and deal breakers, house hunting apps, viewing homes
- Adventures in Home Buying 3: Making an offer, the offer letter, the home inspection
Now we are going to talk about things you can be doing when the loan is being processed and the heavy lifting for the homebuyer is put on pause. I’ll tell you all about the things I did during this waiting period, but more importantly tell you some things I wish I would have done to make better use of my time.
Finally, we will explore what to expect once you finally get to move into your new house.
Closing on Your Home
Depending on your credit, the mortgage company and the home buying gods, closing on your home can take a few weeks, at least. This is an unusual time where you are required to sign some documents, but for the most part you are in limbo. You are hoping everything goes through, that the loan funds, and you now have no valid reason to obsessively refresh your Redfin app (although good luck giving it up).
These couple of weeks will fly by, as time tends to do. So maximize it as much as possible. Moving means two things:
- Moving into your new home
- Moving out of your old home/apartment
Let’s start with the second thing.
Moving out of your old home/apartment
Moving out of a home or apartment is the perfect opportunity to purge. To bust out that Japanese decluttering book, ready it quickly, and get rid of the junk, the old clothes, everything you don’t want to bother packing. Throw it away or throw it in a donation pile to take to Goodwill, Weave, or Community Against Sexual Harm. This process is cathartic and will make the transition easier. You will feel lighter because you won’t have to move extra ‘stuff’ and you will feel great knowing that everything moving into your new home has a purpose and a place.
Pack the rest of it. Especially the kitchen. Don’t leave this room until the morning of the move. I seem to keep doing that, underestimating how much I fit into the kitchen. Pack up all but a few pots/pans/plates/mugs/wineglasses. You can probably pack 90% of your kitchen and be just fine. Keep the wine opener unpacked. You’ll definitely want that.
Change of address
Change of address. You need to change your address when you move. Once you sign the final docs, make sure to change your voter registration (noticed how I assumed you were already registered?), notify your employer, fill out a change of address so your mail can begin being forwarded. Also, change your address with the DMV.
Get that deposit
If you are moving out of an apartment or rental home, you’ll have an opportunity to earn back some if not all of your security deposit. That is hard earned money that you can use towards your new home, so it’s worth spending a little extra time to make the old place as clean as possible. Dust, vacuum, thoroughly clean the shower, and don’t forget to spend some time cleaning out the oven and those pesky stovetop burner pans.
Moving into your new home
What are you going to do between getting the keys and moving in?
What’s the most immediate thing you need to accomplish? Do you need to redo the floors before you move all your furniture in? Does the kitchen need to be redone? The walls painted?
Prioritize and schedule.
I got the keys to my house at the beginning of April and didn’t move in until the end of the month. This gave me enough time to get my must-do items completed before we moved furniture and things into the space. To rip up carpet, pull out tack strips, refinish the hardwood floors and paint the walls.
If you need to hire contractors, you can start looking into this while you are closing your home loan. You might be limited in terms of getting final bids, because you aren’t able to get into the house, but you can at least ask for recommendations for flooring experts, electricians, or whomever you might need to hire to take care of those larger projects.
Priorities will shift at times, that’s normal, but there will likely be a few items that absolutely HAVE to get done before move-in day.
Your new best friend
Take a casual tour of Home Depot or Lowes – whatever is closest. Get real familiar with the layout, the personnel. Because you will be seeing a whole lot of them. You’ll probably see them more often than your friends, who are just going to disappear as you nest, getting your house ready.
Make sure before you start any project that you write down any and all items you might need to buy to complete. You’ll still probably forget things, but try to do so anyway.
YouTube is also an honorary best friend for novice homeowners. That and friends that already own homes and are handy.
Moved in day/weekend
You’re exhausted, you’re sweaty, and you’ve eaten a whole pizza. By yourself.
Whatever you do, don’t stop moving until boxes are unpacked and your paintings are hung on the walls.
After months of searching for a home, signing your bodyweight in legal documents, packing, painting, and whatever else you’ve been doing, you will want to take a break. I know it is tempting, but don’t do it. Once you are finally in the house you are going to be less inclined to tackle those small tasks, so do as much as possible as soon as you move in.
Okay, now you can rest. Welcome home!
Thanks for reading my Adventures in Home Buying series, it’s been an exhaustingly fun few months and it’s been great to share my new insights with you all.