You have been house shopping for months or even years. You have endured a series of offers, property disclosures, inspections and reports. Finally, after so much excitement, stress and anxiety, the house hunt has come to an end.
But your journey does not end on closing day. To help simplify and expedite your transition from closing on your home to living in it, here is a list of things to do after the close.
What is Escrow?
Escrow refers to a third-party service that is part of every home purchase. When a buyer and seller initially arrive at a purchase agreement, they select a neutral third party to act as the escrow agent. The escrow agent collects a deposit from the buyer that is equal to a small percentage of the sale price. This deposit is known as “earnest money”. In exchange, the seller takes the property listing off the market. Until the final exchange is completed, both the seller’s property and the buyer’s deposit are said to be in escrow.
What Is the Closing?
Closing a real estate sale is similar to closing the escrow. It simply means that the deal is completed and both parties have come to an agreement as to the selling price of the home and conditions of the sale.
Most likely, the sales contract contains a closing date, which is when the final papers are signed and is the date the buyer becomes the owner of the home. For the closing to precede, all issues regarding matters such as financing and insurance will need to have already been resolved.
This does not necessarily mean that the buyer can you move into the house on the closing date. The sales contract should state when the seller is to move out and the buyer is to take possession of the property. In most cases, the buyer takes possession at closing, but the parties can also negotiate alternative conditions, such as the seller remaining in the home for a period of time. This is typically the case if the seller is waiting to close on another home purchase or complete the construction of a new home.
Protections for the buyer may also be reflected in an escrow arrangement, such as money being held in escrow to be paid to the buyer if the seller remains in the home longer than agreed.
Things to Do After the Close of Escrow
Change Your Address Information
It’s probably obvious enough, but the post office will not deliver your mail if they do not know where to find you. Make sure to change your address with the US Postal Service. But don’t stop there. Be sure to contact important companies to ensure that you get your mail delivered to your new address. If you are in a multi-unit building, make sure to put your name on your mailbox after closing escrow.
Contact the following people and companies to streamline the moving process:
1. The post office
2. The DMV
3. Utility companies
4. Your friends and family
5. Your employer
6. Insurance companies
7. Your bank
8. Tax agencies
9. Credit card providers
10. Subscription services
11. Loan providers
12. Other service providers, such as doctors, accountants, etc.
Set Up the Utilities
Some people assume the utilities will work once they walk in. While many utility companies have grace periods (the days between when the seller cancels service and the new owner calls), you cannot always assume this will be the case. If you have an out-of-town seller, they may have canceled services the day they knew all contingencies were removed. In this instance, the grace period likely lapsed, and you may be stuck dealing with the electric company, waiting for an appointment or just being without power when you really want to move in and start fixing up your new place.
The best plan is to call the utility companies and get service set up well before closing. If they have not received cancellation notice from the seller, let the seller know to take care of that.
Hire a Cleaning Crew
There is nothing worse than showing up with the movers and all your personal belongings only to discover the seller did not leave behind a clean house. Assume the worst and get a professional cleaning crew in there immediately after closing. Even if the seller did clean, they may have done a poor job. You want to start life in your new home with a sparkling clean house.
Meet the Neighbors
With all the new sights, sounds, and routines of moving into a new home, getting to know your new neighbors can help you build a sense of familiarity with your new surroundings. They are sure to be curious, so when you see your neighbors, wave and say hello. It never hurts to have a good relationship with the people you will be sharing a neighborhood with.
Change the Locks
A lot of people came in possession of keys to your new home during the home sale process. Agents used keys to let their clients in, handymen may have used them to make repairs, and the previous homeowner may have given them to other people as well. After closing escrow, protect yourself by changing all the locks, just in case a set of keys fell into the wrong hands.
Plan Renovations Well in Advance
Unless you are buying a new build, it is unlikely that you will get a place that is 100% move-in ready. By the time you have signed a contract, you have lots of ideas about how you will customize your new home and what work needs to be done.
If the house needs work, you do not want to wait until you have closed to secure a professional. Either at your final walkthrough or during a private appointment, get the proper contractors in the house and start collecting bids for necessary work. If possible, have floor sanding, painting or small fix-it work done before you move in. Real estate agents work with all kinds of tradespeople, so they are often a great resource for referrals.
Make Copies of Documents
It is true—you will have to do a little more paperwork before you can start enjoying your home. But compared to the paperwork involved in the home buying process—from homeowners and title insurance to closing notices and disclosures—making copies of important documents related to your home purchase should be easy
We recommend keeping your buyer’s agent and purchase agreement, including any amendments; seller and closing disclosures; home inspection report; title insurance policy; and the property deed.
Create Warranty Reminders
If you received a home warranty, make sure you have the company’s contact number and information about what is covered. Mark a calendar with the warranty end date and inspect your home before the coverage ends. This also applies to any termite warranty. Know when your coverage ends and have an inspection performed before it expires.
Prepare for Your First Mortgage Payment
Especially if you have never owned a home before, you may not be in the habit of paying a mortgage each month. But it is important—for obvious reasons—to pay your mortgage payment on time and in full. Make sure you know when your first payment is and that you set aside enough money to cover it.
Depending on when you closed your home purchase transaction, the amount of your first mortgage payment may differ significantly. These payments, interest, and dates, are broken down in your closing disclosure
What Happens at Citrus Heritage Escrow?
As your closing date draws near, you are probably exhausted. But taking a little extra time to plan ahead will save you time, money and stress — and make the move into your new home so much more satisfying.
Your escrow officer follows instructions on your contract, coordinates deadlines, and gathers all necessary paperwork. For example, written requests for payoff information (called “demands”) are sent to the Seller’s mortgage company and any other lien holders.
When choosing an escrow company there can be many important factors to evaluate. Fees, location, staff and even recommendations from friends and colleagues are all things to consider. With Citrus Heritage Escrow by your side, you can rest assured that when you receive your settlement check, you’ve gained the maximum benefit from your home sale or purchase.
Call us today with any questions or concerns. Our professional Escrow Agents will help you through this exciting yet confusing process. (951) 335-7200