Here's some information for you from my new friend Colton Matheson and I.  If you own a car, you are either the type of owner that fixes it when it breaks, or one who is religious about following the manufacturer's scheduled maintenance.  Guess what!  Houses are like cars, and homeowners are like car owners!  Those who maintain spend much less over time, and preserve the value of their investment!

Purchasing your first home is an exciting event, but it can also be overwhelming. Once you sign the papers and have the keys handed over to you, the reality of homeownership hits. You may be wondering how to secure your home, if your family will be happy there, what the first things to decorate should be, and a list of other things. This list may leave you wondering where to start, but we’re here to help. Take a look at these 10 tips that will help you as you move into your new home.

  1. Secure your home. The first thing you’ll want to do, even before you move your family or your belongings in, is to secure your home. Make sure you change all the locks when you move in. You never know who might have a key to the old ones. You should also install an alarm system that is monitored. When something goes wrong, like a burglary, fire or other emergency, the security system is activated. Various alarm messages are then sent to a central location where help can be called to your home immediately. This is especially useful if you are out of town or away for the day. The peace of mind that comes with a monitored alarm is worth any expense.  
  2. Get insured. You wouldn’t drive your car without insurance, right? Same goes for your house. You need to make sure you have the proper home owners insurance to keep your belongings and your home safe in case of an accident, like a fire or an earthquake. Many times you can combine your home and auto insurance policies, so be sure to check with your current provider to get the best rates. Remember that monitored alarm system? Installing one can save you up to 15% on your home insurance.
  3. Keep paperwork handy. You likely signed a bunch of papers at your closing. While you may not want to look at those papers for a while, be sure to keep them handy. Your paperwork will be especially useful come tax time, since homeowners can get a tax break on mortgages and other home expenses. If you are worried something might get lost, scan the documents and save them to your computer.
  4. Make it yours. When you first move in, the house is like an empty canvas. You can now start to decorate and make the place yours. It’s easy to go a little crazy and start trying to decorate every room in the house, but remember that it will be easier (and cleaner) if you take it one room at a time. Start small with an accent wall or by hanging a family photo on the wall.
  5. Keep things in good repair. When you’re the home owner, you’re responsible for all of the home repairs as well. Be proactive and keep things in working order so you can avoid costly repairs later on down the road. Check regularly for leaky faucets, broken fixtures or any cracks in walls or floors. Catch the repairs early and you’ll save a lot of time, money and hassle. To make sure you don’t forget something, sign up for a monthly or seasonal homeowner maintenance checklist. Set aside some time each month to follow each step. Try this list from Lowe’s. http://www.lowes.com/cd_Home+Maintenance+Schedule+and+Checklist_1297357358_
  6. Keep an eye on the neighborhood. Part of the value of your home also depends on the surrounding neighborhood. You may want to keep an eye out for what’s going on around you. Watch to see if yards are being kept up, if lots of houses go up for sale at the same time or if the homes start to look run down. There are just some of the factors that could affect the value of your home.
  7. Get to know the neighbors. On that same note, you’ll want to get to know your neighbors.  This will likely be your home for many years, so get to know those living around you. Take a plate of cookies to the family next door or host a neighborhood block party. Once you know your neighbors on a personal level you’ll feel more at home and you’ll feel safer as well.
  8. Check the smoke detectors. If you’ve bought your new home from a previous owner, be sure to check the smoke detectors. Make sure they work and also make sure there are fresh batteries in each detector. You should have a smoke detector in every room in the house. Make sure your family’s safety is taken care of before you’re all settled in.
  9. Inspect grout annually. This is one of those homeowner things that many often forget about. Inspect the grout in the bathrooms and kitchen at least once a year. You want to look for mold, any cracks or any areas that need repair. The grout keeps unwanted water out of the walls, so don’t skip this step.
  10. Enjoy! This is your new home and you need to enjoy it. Have fun and make memories with your family. Of course, take the necessary steps to make your home clean, safe and a healthy environment, but you also need to just relax and have fun.