Skip to main content

10 important things all new homeowners should know before they move in

Moving into your first home places you squarely in the middle of unfamiliar territory. Welcome to the learning curve. It’s hard to know what you don’t know, so be prepared to roll with the punches as you take on a boatload of new challenges. Everyone’s first time as a homeowner is unique, but there are a few must-dos: Here are 10 important things all new homeowners should know.


Private property lines are part of the public record on file with your local county recorder or assessor’s office. You may have to visit their office to access maps of your street and locate your boundaries. Many counties have online records that you can access. Be sure to find out where any road or utility rights of way affect your property as well.

This is vital information when it comes to making improvements like building a garden shed or deck, or even when pruning a tree branch near the property line. If you’re part of a homeowner’s association, this is also helpful information so you know what part of the yard you’re responsible for maintaining.


Taking care of your home is a matter of safety, comfort, and peace of mind. While there are plenty of important chores that must be done, several key maintenance tasks play an outsized role in keeping you and your loved ones safe and comfortable. Don’t forget to put these tasks on your calendar.

  • Change HVAC filters monthly.
  • Change batteries in smoke, CO, and CO2 detectors yearly.
  • Schedule seasonal furnace/AC service at the beginning of heating and cooling seasons.


Not everyone is a DIYer by nature. However, homeownership presents a wide variety of repair issues on a regular basis, and it’s much easier and less expensive to tackle these tasks yourself. Learn to recognize the symptoms of various repair issues so that minor inconveniences do not snowball into major (and expensive) headaches. You can tackle most of the small stuff on your own with basic tools and a quick internet search. These few tasks you should definitely know how to DIY:


You may be surprised by the financial issues that accompany homeownership. A home is the single largest financial investment for most Americans, and it comes with potentially big benefits as well as certain liabilities. You are now on the hook for property taxes and home repairs for the rest of the time you own the home. That being said, your home’s value also provides financial leverage for things like building a business, retirement planning, or access to credit. 

The best way to maximize the benefits and minimize the liabilities is by building a budget. Build a savings plan for inevitable maintenance needs, like replacing major appliances, remodeling, and repairing the roof. Buy adequate insurance to cover losses in case of disaster. And, work with a financial professional to take full advantage of available tax breaks.


Some of the first calls you make after closing and before moving in are to set up utility services. As important as it is to turn on the water, electricity, and natural gas, learning how to turn them off is even more important. An emergency is not the time to start looking for the gas shutoff or realize you don’t have a water valve key. By move-in day you should know how to turn off the water, electricity, and gas supplies. If special tools are required, keep them in convenient locations.

Water and sewer issues can be especially complicated. In addition to the source (municipal or well water), you also need to know where it goes (sewer system or private septic tank). For municipal water and sewer, your maintenance responsibilities begin at the water meter and end where your sewer lateral line meets the sewer mainline.

Also, be aware that these and other utilities, including communication cables and fiber optics, may be buried anywhere on your property. Before digging for any reason, be sure to “call before you dig.” In the United States, call 8-1-1 to schedule a free utility line locating service. In Canada, each province has its own hotline.


Neighborhood services

In addition to the utilities that serve your own home, there are a variety of neighborhood services that you should become familiar with, like local schools or garbage and recycling collection. Keep these contacts handy, just in case.

  • Trash collection
  • Public schools/ superintendent’s office
  • Public library
  • Public works or street maintenance
  • Parks and recreation

Neighborhood contacts

Great neighborhoods are built on good relationships. Soon after moving in, start making the rounds to meet the neighbors. These relationships will be beneficial when determining who can watch your house or dog while you’re on vacation or who can keep an eye on the kids when they come home early on a snow day. Do you have a neighbor you can trust to turn the oven off when you forgot? You may not need help right away, and relationship building can be slow, but eventually, a good community network may be a lifesaver.


Even if you are an experienced and enthusiastic DIYer, some jobs are best left to professionals. The best local providers can be hard to find in a pinch. Start asking around for references and researching candidates for repair and maintenance services before you need them. Be sure to have the contact information for the following professionals:

  • Mechanic
  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • Handyman

Quality of life

Some of the challenges of moving into a new home have nothing to do with the actual house. Whether it’s your first home purchase or your fifth, moving to a new city or neighborhood means starting over in many ways. It’s easy to put on blinders and focus on house and work, but life gets bland and frustrating without engaging in the community. Don’t neglect these parts of your life just because you have a house now. Check out the community facilities in town such as:

  • Spiritual centers
  • Recreation halls
  • Movie theaters, concert venues, and entertainment arenas


Homeownership connects you more deeply to the government by the thousands of dollars you now pay in annual property taxes. Stay abreast of the local issues and familiarize yourself with your representatives. The bridge between neighborhood common sense and “Washington” is the local school board, city council, county commission, sheriff, and other local elected officials. As a homeowner, you not only vote for or against candidates, you also fund the initiatives created by these entities.

Becoming a homeowner for the first time is a rewarding — but sometimes overwhelming — experience. With this checklist, you can make your transition a little more stress-free.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Wolfe
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Mark Wolfe is a freelance writer who specializes in garden, landscaping, and home improvement. After two decades in the…
The house maintenance tasks homeowners think first-time buyers should know
A few considerations when buying your first home
try these 11 bathroom diys you can do in one hour plumber

Buying a home for the first time isn't for the faint of heart. There are so many decisions you need to make and so many considerations to keep in mind before you sign on the dotted line. The biggest worry (beyond the biggest financial investment you're making) is what you don't know, especially regarding house maintenance. Luckily, we have the expertise of those who have come before us.

Redditor theforeverletter recently posed this question on the r/Home Improvement subreddit: "Homeowners who have been doing this for [a while], what regular maintenance do people need to do to their house they don’t know they should be doing? For those of you who know far more than me, I bought a house last year; what things do I/other first-time homeowners need to do to keep up with everything we may not know? Of course, this depends on the house (Septic/city water crawl space/no crawl space) and things can vary, but happy to learn as much as I can!" Hundreds of people were happy to share their advice, and we've taken some of the most popular, so you know what to look out for.

Read more
The climate change risks home buyers are sleeping on, according to Zillow
Analysis: This climate change risk is the only one that home buyers are worried about
analysis of climate change risks for home buyers houses in houston suburb flooded from hurricane harvey 2017

Climate change is shaping the world we live in. From record-high temperatures to worsening hurricanes and the increase in frequency and severity of wildfires, homeowners across the country are facing more and more threats to the safety of their homes. But that doesn’t mean home buyers are necessarily thinking about these threats. According to a recent analysis by Zillow, there’s really only one risk home buyers are heeding — flooding.

Home buyers are paying attention to flooding risks
Completed in conjunction with ClimateCheck, a climate risk data provider, the Zillow analysis found that flood risks are having a growing influence on home buyers. While home values in areas prone to flood risks continue to increase at a faster rate than other areas, these areas are also seeing an increase in both mortgage denials and potential borrowers deciding to withdraw their mortgage applications.

Read more
Painting 101: The best wall-painting techniques everyone should know
Wife and husband painting a wall

Painting is an easy and fun DIY project that will bring a fresh, new look to any room. It can be done by nearly anyone and is the best way to make a room feel brand-new. There are many ways to approach this endeavor. You must consider tools, protection for flooring/furniture, and items that will help add a fun, unique flair to any wall. And you must remember that, from prep to dry time, painting a 150-square-foot room is a whole-day process.

How do you paint walls nicely? Here are some great DIY wall-painting techniques, tips, and tricks to make the process more efficient, fun, and effective.

Read more