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Buying Your First Home

Learn 10 things every first-time homeowner should know

Buying your first home brings both endless possibilities and increased responsibilities. No longer restricted by the rules imposed on renters, you can paint your living room orange, knock down a wall, or play your music loudly without upsetting your adjoining neighbors. But, you'll also be responsible for a lot of repairs and ongoing maintenance that are new to you as a first-time homeowner. You'll certainly learn as you go, but get ahead by reviewing these 10 tips for owning your first home.

1. Notify the necessary parties of your move

You don't want to miss any important mail, so fill out a change of address form from the post office in advance of your move. The post office will typically forward mail for one year, notifying senders that your address has changed. After buying your first home and moving into it, you should also let your bank, credit card company, doctors and other service providers know where to send bills and statements. You can also sign up for online bill payment to reduce the amount of mail you receive.

2. Install fire and carbon monoxide alarms

One of your first priorities as a first-time homeowner should be to install critical safety equipment. You don't want to spend the first night in a new home without proper carbon monoxide and fire alarms. If the home already has them installed, change the batteries, and test them to be sure they're operational.

3. Start an emergency savings fund for major repairs

As a first-time homeowner, you should prepare for repairs in the event of leaking roofs, failed furnaces or flooded basements. Making these major repairs and replacements can cost thousands of dollars. Start saving now so you have that money accessible later.

4. Transfer all utilities into your name(s)

Once you own your first home, contact the electric, gas, cable, phone and water companies to verify all bills are in your name. You should also establish the start of service if you won't be living in the house for some time. You may also want to ask about seasonal pricing plans for your electric or gas bills, which can help make particularly cold or warm months easier on your budget.

5. Take control of your new home

Change the locks the day you get the keys. Even if the previous owners appeared trustworthy, you never know who they loaned a key to. As a first-time homeowner, you should also familiarize yourself with your new house’s basement or utility closet. Find the water shut-off valve, circuit breaker and gas controls. You don't want to wait until an emergency arises to figure out where these things are.

6. Pay your home loan on time

After owning your home for a few weeks, you'll receive your first mortgage payment stub. Make sure you're looking for this important piece of mail, so your first payment is on time. When you get the entire payment book, you'll likely have the option to set up automatic payments. This is a great way to ensure you never miss a home loan payment, so fill it out, and send it in.

7. Pack a separate box of move-in essentials

There are plenty of household items you take for granted, and you don't want to be surprised on move-in day when you're missing, say, toiletpaper, hand soap and something to eat or drink. Plan for this by packing some basic cleaning supplies, paper products, bottled water and snacks in a separate box that will stay with you during the move.

8. Brush up on your lawn maintenance skills

As a first-time homeowner, lawn and garden care may be unfamiliar territory for you. If you don't have a green thumb, take some time to learn the basics. Maintaining the outside of your home can go a long way in helping you maintain good relationships with your neighbors. Keeping up your home's curb appeal can also make your life easier down the road if you decide to put it on the market.

9. Have a housewarming party for friends, family and neighbors

Half the fun of buying your first home is showing it off to friends and family members. Once you've settled in, invite friends, family and even new neighbors for a housewarming party. This will present an opportunity to brush up on your host or hostess skills, too.

10. Start exploring the neighborhood

Go for walks or bike rides around your neighborhood to learn the lay of the land. Venture out at different times of day to see who's around and how the neighborhood changes. You'll run into neighbors this way, too. Then, drive a wider radius and locate stores, restaurants and other amenities.

Find answers to more first-time homeowner questions

As a first-time home buyer, you probably have more questions about your first mortgage or the home loan process. Call to speak to a Citizens Bank home loan advisor about your questions.



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