What Are the First Steps That New Homeowners Should Take?

While becoming a new homeowner is an exciting time, it is also a time of new responsibilities. A home purchase is an asset investment. Smart new homeowners protect and leverage this asset immediately.

Safety First
Purchasing a new home and going through the closing process can be stressful and cause anxiety. It may be tempting to pick up a paintbrush or start unpacking soon after the key exchange. However, there are a few preliminary steps that should be taken before settling in. One initial step needed is to change the locks before moving in belongings. This simple and inexpensive first safety step is essential to secure the home and recommended by the National Association of REALTORS resource, Houselogic. To eliminate smells, allergens and germs have any carpets thoroughly and professionally cleaned, and take the time to wipe down knobs, pulls and doors with a disinfectant.

Most likely the home was inspected before closing. However, there are a few simple checks to ensure home safety that may have been missed. Check the fire detectors and replace their batteries before moving in belongings. Purchase a fire extinguisher for each floor of the home, including the basement. Look for undiscovered plumbing leaks which could lead to mold or damage to the property. Check the reading on the water meter. Don't run water for two hours and then check the meter again. If there's a difference, then there is a leak, states Houselogic. Finally, check the dryer vent for any obstructions to eliminate the possibility of fire.

Get Organized
While being a new homeowner brings a lot of benefits it also includes a lot of responsibility. After safety issues are addressed go to the local office supply or big box store and buy a large three-ring binder with pockets on the inside cover and a three-hole punch. Gather all the warranties and manuals left by the previous homeowner. Take the time now to download and print manuals that are missing. In the pockets, place all the closing documents and any homeowner association documents; they might be needed later. Place the insurance policy in the binder. Then, locate numbers for the local fire department, police department and closest emergency room. The front page should include local resources, such as landscapers, lawnmowers, plumbers, garbage pickup, electrician and utility providers. Keep the binder in an easy to access spot in the kitchen or other well-used room.

Prepare for Tax Time
One of the many benefits of becoming a new homeowner is a potential tax advantage. For most homeowners, the expense of purchasing and owning a home allows for itemized deductions on the annual tax return. Itemized deductions are typically greater than the standard deduction and can reduce taxable income, which means the homeowner pays fewer taxes. As a new homeowner, points may have been paid to the mortgage lender. These may be tax deductible. The mortgage interest paid, mortgage premium insurance, which is not to be confused with homeowners insurance, and real estate property taxes may all be tax deductible as stated in the 2017 Internal Revenue Service Publication 530. Tax law can change annually so always be sure to check the IRS rules when itemizing deductions.