So you’ve sold your house and are about to move into a new one. Other than the physical move itself, you think you’re about done with the process.
Well, think again. You still have plenty to do.
For starters, notify your utility providers that you will be leaving your current address on the day you close the deal on your old place. Once you close, the utilities are your buyer’s responsibility.
At closing, you might give the buyers a list of the house’s utility providers and their phone numbers. This isn’t required, but it is a courtesy, especially if they’ve been cooperative through the entire process.
It’s also a nice gesture to dig up all the manuals (if you still have them) for your appliances and hand them over to your buyers. That way, they’ll be able to safely operate that fancy range or refrigerator, and have the customer service phone numbers at hand, if needed.
While you’re dealing with the gas, water and electric companies, set up those services for your new home. If the new place is in the same service area, this should be a simple matter of switching your existing account to a new address. But if you are moving farther, you might have to post a fee to open a new account. Don’t forget your other services such as cable, trash pick-up and the like.
Let the post office know your new address, and send change-of-address notices to your friends, relatives and credit accounts. If you don’t notify your creditors, you could be hit with expensive late fees and penalties as your bills are slowly rerouted.
Call your insurance agents to tell them of your impending move. You’ll need to have home insurance in place at the closing on your new digs, and proof of coverage. If you are moving into a flood zone, you might also need flood insurance; otherwise, your lender will balk at closing. Fortunately, flood coverage is available from more than just Uncle Sam’s National Flood Insurance Program. Many private carriers also offer policies, so shop around. Just be sure to have it in place at closing.
Of course, you’ve already lined up a professional mover or a gaggle of buddies to help haul your stuff. But have you started bringing home plenty of boxes? What about newspapers or bubble wrap so you can protect your most valuable and delicate items?
If you are using a moving company, have some cash on hand for tips – if they do a good job. As for friends, you’ll want to provide lunch and maybe even dinner. Pizza, perhaps, or sandwiches, and obviously some cold drinks – or hot, depending on the time of year you are switching houses.
While awaiting your move, it might be a good idea to learn your new neighborhood. Figure out your new commute to work; find out where the grocery store and other essential shops are located; ascertain where the restaurants, movie theaters and other entertainment venues are.
Here, your local realty agent – or the builder’s salesperson, if you are buying a new house – can be of immense help. He or she should be able to provide maps, pamphlets and other information that can be extremely useful.
At settlement, you’ll be given a stack of important documents, so don’t lose or misplace them in the chaos of moving. Make some kind of provision to put your papers in a safe and secure place until you can store them permanently.
You’ll need your closing statement and perhaps some other documents come tax time. And keep receipts for any move-related expenditures. If you are moving because of work, you may be able to write off these expenses, as long as you meet the IRS’s rules and requirements.
Unless your children are old enough to help with the move, make plans to keep them out of the way. Hire a sitter, or leave them with a friend or relative. But don’t shut them out of the move completely. After all, this is their new home, too. Once everything is unloaded into the proper rooms, the kids can be brought back to help unpack a few things.
Speaking of progeny, make sure to enroll them in their new schools prior to the move. Take them to see the school so they can familiarize themselves with the building, and possibly meet a teacher or two and a few new classmates. Any advance work of this kind will help make the transition smoother.
Along this same line, you might want to walk around the new neighborhood on a weekend with your kids in tow, so all of you can meet the new neighbors. If no one is outside, don’t be shy about knocking on doors and introducing yourselves.
Lew Sichelman has been covering real estate for more than 30 years. He is a regular contributor to numerous shelter magazines and housing and housing-finance industry publications. Readers can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.