So You’ve Closed Escrow—Now What?

So you’ve closed escrow and are now proud homeowners. You’re ready to move in, but it’ll take more than arranging furniture to finish the job.

Here are some recommendations to make your new home yours and only yours.

  1. Change the Locks
    If your house belonged to someone else and then went up for sale, it’s likely the seller still has a copy of they key somewhere, as do real estate agents, the prior owner’s brother-in-law, and the teenager next door who took care of the place when the previous owners went on vacation. To secure your home, make sure you and those you choose are the only ones who can easily unlock the front door.
  2. Change the Garage Door Opener
    Unless your home has a garage door opener that utilizes a randomizing code, get new remotes for your garage door opener.
  3. Put Utilities in Your Name
    While it would be fantastic if the prior owner would take care of a few utility payments, that’s not generally what happens when you forget to put the utilities in your name. The previous owners may receive a bill, but are unlikely to pay it. When utility bills are not paid, they are shut off, and rarely at a convenient time. Make sure ALL utilities are in your name.
  4. Consider a Service Contract for Heat and A/C
    If you have central heat and air conditioning, it’s smart to have the units serviced periodically. If you don’t want to deal with this right when you move in, at least put it on your calendar to take care of later. And while your calendar’s out, might as well make a note for when monthly loan payments are due.
  5. Watch the Mail for a Tax Reassessment
    Keep an eye out for a property tax bill from the county, and make sure the value listed corresponds to the market value on your date of purchase. If it doesn’t, talk to your Realtor about appealing the amount.
  6. Get Rid of Dirty Dirt
    As I’ve mentioned before, most of us think our own dirt isn’t dirty, but other people’s is. To make the place your own, it’s worth either employing a cleaning company or rolling up your sleeves to do a thorough cleaning yourself before moving in your belongings. It’s great to have carpets cleaned without having to move heavy couches first. And don’t forget to clean heat and air vents and the clothes dryer vent.
  7. Keep Little Home Improvements Little
    Home improvement projects that do not require moving heavy furniture before starting are better than those that get postponed or not done at all because heavy lifting is required. Painting the bedroom wall before bunk beds are assembled is always preferable to painting around beds or moving them.
  8. Keep Escrow Closing Documents Safe
    Put escrow documents in a safe place. You may want to refer to them when it’s time to sell or refinance the property, and you’ll most certainly need them when it’s tax time next year. If you didn’t keep them (or can’t find them), your Realtor can help.
  9. Customize Your Platt Map
    Ask your Realtor for a Platt map of your property, or use a Google photo, and sketch your house where it belongs. Then note the location of the water, gas and electrical shut off valves.
  10. Get a Forwarding Address
    Ask the prior owners for their new address, so you can forward their mail, if need be.
  11.  Change the Washing Machine Hoses
    This is one of those boring little chores that can save you from massive inconvenience later.
  12. Pay It Forward
    If you received excellent service from your Realtor, pass his or her name along to someone who could benefit from their help.

If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at or visit If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you’re a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 35 years.

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