What should you do after a successful house purchase? Well, moving into a new home means you will need to create another checklist. Read this article to find out the seven things you must do after buying a house.
Congratulations on securing your first house! That should be the end of the long buying process, right?
Not exactly - though you have signed the papers, got the keys to your new house and secured the movers, the process of homeownership does not end there. Similar to buying a car, you will also need to think about customising the house to fit your needs and specifications, and be prepared to face new challenges as a new homeowner.
Cost-wise, there is more to buying a house than just preparing the down payment and monthly mortgage payments; there is also the cost of maintenance, bills and renovations.
Here are some tips on what to do after buying a house to help you navigate the journey of being a first-time homeowner.
1. Factor in other expenses such as utility and maintenance costs when budgeting
The cost of homeownership doesn’t end with just your down payment and monthly mortgage.
When budgeting, include unexpected household expenses such as broken pipes or fan ceilings, plumbing issues, cracked tiles and old roofs, as well as ongoing maintenance costs like wiring updates, gutter cleaning, lawn care or repainting walls.
The cost price will typically vary depending on the neighbourhood, location, frequency and type of property, so if you need an estimation, we recommend working with a trusted home inspector to get a quotation, especially for first-year expenses which may be more expensive than usual.
When it comes to budgeting your maintenance cost, we read that the 1% rule is a good reference point. It essentially means committing at least 1% of your home's value in maintenance costs every year.
If you need plumbers, locksmiths, cleaners, electricians, handyman and aircon services, try checking out LocalServices, a platform dedicated to providing adequate services to individuals, households and companies within Malaysia.
For a clearer sense of how to budget and manage your utilities, research the typical utility cost in your area or ask someone in the neighbourhood. The latter may not be as easy but it would provide a more accurate estimate.
Set aside a certain amount of money for your savings and emergency fund to ensure that you never get caught off-guard when the different costs arise.
Case in point: do not underestimate the obvious carrying costs of a home and the subtle aesthetic or lifestyle costs of a house (usually associated with renovating and redecorating). Instead, budget wisely to avoid surprises.
2. Save yourself from future headaches by creating a maintenance plan
Experts recommend servicing your home air conditioning at least once a year.
We’ll be honest, poorly-maintained houses have the highest tendency to be money pits - they drain your finances, cost you more on the long-term, with little added value.
Performing annual (or even monthly) maintenance of your house can help decrease your overall repair costs because problems can still be fixed when they are still small and manageable. But to pull it off, you need to dedicate some money, time and commitment to do it.
In fact, by regularly maintaining your house, you are indirectly protecting mother nature and promoting sustainability. If you took the time to repair the three leaky faucets at home, you could be saving two litres of water per day and 360 litres in six months, according to this drip calculator we found online.
Other instances of maintenance duties:
Refrigerator: Simple maintenance can go a long way for the longevity of your refrigerator. We found out that it is advisable to clear your ice bins monthly and clean the condenser coils and inspect the door gasket, every three to four months. If necessary, replace the water filter and clean the drain hole every six months.
Air conditioner: In a tropical country such as Malaysia, air conditioners help keep the temperature cool during the warm season. According to Daikin, a popular air conditioning manufacturer in Malaysia, air conditioners must be regularly maintained to be able to function properly.
Gutters: Messy and dirty gutters are not just an eyesore - they can also lead to serious damages like clogging, mould and ruining your house’s foundation. We read that it is advisable to clean your gutters at least once a year and more frequently if there are trees near your property.
Lastly, remember to set up your utilities, including water, electric, Internet, and television once you have officially moved in. We recommend setting up auto-billing on utilities to avoid missing any payments.
Maintaining your house is not an easy process because it takes a lot of effort and focus. But it won’t be a dreadful routine if you plan it accordingly and are mindful of your expenses.
Related: Costs Everyone Forgets to Budget For
3. Share your new address to relevant people!
Now that you have relocated to a new house and neighbourhood, it would be useful, and wise, to update relevant parties such as family and friends on your movement so they are able to find you.
Though we know it is primarily for the holiday cards and gifts, updating loved ones on your whereabouts is important for your own safety. It lets them know where you are in case you need emergency assistance or attention.
Other relevant parties to update include your creditors and your employer, so they can update their records.
4. Renovate, repaint and redecorate your house!
You could hire a professional contractor to repaint your house. Or if you want to clock in more family-time, you could get everyone together for a painting session.
Renovation is not necessary for every house, though many do require some overhaul. It all goes down to the type of house you buy (brand new or sub-sale), your budget, and your own preference.
Though often perceived as a lifestyle or aesthetic choice, renovations can be considered a necessity if it is done for safety purposes. For example, if you noticed your old walls might have the potential to collapse, then perhaps consider redoing it.
Finally, before moving your old furniture into your new home, we think it is easier to first get any renovation or repainting work done in an empty house. It’s also better to get some cleaning done beforehand.
5. Check the security and safety of your new home
Before moving into your new home, make sure to change all locks, keys, and security codes to your new house. This is to avoid the previous homeowners, or their family and friends, from having access to your new house. We recommend installing safety grills for your front door or windows for extra security.
Once you have secured your new home, check if your new house is safe to reside in. Ensure the house is free of physical defects that could potentially hurt you.
After that, invest in certain safety equipment like fire extinguishers and emergency kits, for when you accidentally cut yourself. Put it in a place that you’ll remember and check its expiry every six months.
Typically emergency kits include items like:
- Non-perishable food (three-day supply)
- A good supply of 20-litre water
- A first aid kit
- Prescription and non-prescription medications
- Cash, preferably in small bills
- A manual can opener
- Fire extinguisher
- Feminine supplies
6. Hello friends! Meet your new neighbours
Once you have settled down in your new house, the next step is to pay your neighbours a visit.
Even if you are not a social butterfly, your neighbours could be a resource in case of any emergencies. They could also be good reference points and lunch or dinner buddies.
7. Continue saving for emergencies and retirement
A property is an expensive asset, but that doesn’t mean you should stop saving.
Now that you’ve secured your dream home, it doesn’t mean you should stop building up your savings.
Though a property is an asset that will typically always appreciate over time, as an investment, the property isn't liquid. That means cash will not be immediately available if you need to cash out, and even worse, you will need to find a buyer before you can cash out. In contrast, other investments like stocks or unit trusts are highly liquid.
Always try to put away at least 1% of your paycheck - the higher the better - into your savings and emergency funds, the latter would be helpful for you if problems arise in the future. Even better if you can allocate some into your retirement savings accounts as well.
Buying a house is a lengthy process but it’s worth it
If you stuck all the way from part 1, then you now understand how lengthy of a process it can be to buy a house. We hope this three-piece guide could help you fill any gaps you may have or experience while property hunting.
We also hope you found this piece educational! Remember, the more you understand a process, the less stressful and easier it will be to navigate it in the future. Good luck!