Congratulations! You’ve just purchased your first home. Getting out of the rental market and investing in real estate has a lot of benefits, but also a lot of responsibilities…but not to worry! We’ve prepared this new homeowner’s survival guide to help you navigate the transition from renter to property owner.

1. Change locks, reset garage codes, and secure your new home

You never know who had a copy of the old key or the code to the garage. It would be a smart move to ensure your new home is secured by replacing the locks. If your garage comes with a numeric keypad to open and close it, reset the code. You may also want to consider installing a doorbell security camera — these come in handy for package delivery and checking who’s at the door before you answer.

2. A fresh coat of paint before moving in

If your moving schedule allows it, painting your home is much easier before all the belongings are moved in. If that’s not possible, keep your belongings in boxes so they are protected until you can paint whichever rooms are needed.

3. Setup your utilities

To ensure no interruption, or backlogged payments, make utility setup a priority. Before you move in, you should have already purchased home insurance. Your realtor/real estate lawyer will provide you with a list of utility services that are required to keep the home running which typically include: property taxes, gas, electric, water/sewage. You will also want to consider scheduling your setup for internet/cable for a date soon after moving in to ensure minimal interruption.

4. Deep clean of the house

Although the previous owners should leave the home in a liveable condition, we would advise doing a deep clean of the house so you can start completely fresh. If possible, this is much easier done before the moving truck arrives. From scrubbing the baseboards and windows to deep cleaning the oven, get your home in tip-top shape before you settle right in.

5. Maintenance

It’s advisable to do some maintenance on your home’s major components. Consider changing HVAC filters, cleaning out the dryer hose, clearing the drain pump on the washer, have your furnace serviced, clean your gutters and do a service check on your fireplace. Tip – check your home inspection report for any red flags that should be addressed sooner than later and prioritize those.

6. Locate utilities

This isn’t something you want to be dealing with during an emergency. Locate your home’s main water shut-off, sump pump, gas valves and circuit box (check labels, and label any missing!). If you have a A/C unit outside, don’t forget to protect it during the winter months with a tarp. If you’re performing any yard work, like planting a new tree, it’s smart to call a utility location service to mark the water mains and electric before you do any major digging.

7. Get to know your neighbours!

It’s great idea to introduce yourself to your new neighbours and establish good rapport. Heading out of town? How nice would it be to have a neighbour who can collect your packages, feed your cat or water your plants. It all starts with a simple smile and hello.

8. Setup mail forwarding and update your address

Contact Canada Post and have your mail forwarded from your previous address. As the forwarded mail arrives, contact each business/relative to let them know of your new address. You should also update your address with your employer, on your driver’s license, insurance companies, schools, doctor, benefits provider, credit card/banks, any subscription services, vehicle registration, CRA, CPP, etc.

9. Start an emergency fund

As a new homeowner, when something breaks…it’s now your problem to repair and pay for it. Gone are the days of calling your landlord! There are many unexpected expenses that can arise, from plumbing to a new roof, you’ll thank yourself for saving ahead and creating that safety net.

10. Create a homeowner’s folder

During the process, you will collect a lot of paperwork. You will also inherit a lot like warranties for your new appliances. Start a folder or binder and collect everything together. Include contact details for utilities, insurance providers, etc.

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