Real Estate in Orange County, CA
Holly Schwartz McDonald

Ask The Expert – An Important Checklist for New Homeowners

As seen in the Coastal Real Estate Guide, November 26, 2018


Buying a new home is often an exciting time for people – it’s a new adventure, a pivotal change, and a piece of the American dream.  New buyers are often imagining how they can personalize and transform the space by putting their own stamp on it.  While that can all be exhilarating to plan, there are some less glamorous tasks that should come first and foremost on your to-do list.  Here’s a look at five practical steps to take before embarking on some of the other projects that might be in store.


  1. One of the most thrilling moments when you buy a house is the moment you get handed your new keys.  Even though all keys and codes are meant to be transferred to the buyers, the fact is, you have no way of knowing how many duplicates are floating around.  According to the National Association of Realtors, buyers should plan to quickly change all locks to new ones and swap out or reprogram any keypads, codes, etc.  Who knows who had knowledge to or access to those items in the past?  For your safety, change them!


  1. Houselogic also provided some tips that should be addressed right away by new homeowners.  For example, even though the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors were likely tested during the course of buying the home, it is still wise to test them again upon moving in. They are there to protect occupants and batteries can expire at any time and devices can malfunction.  A good practice would be to start fresh with new batteries at the very least.


  1. The water heater temperature should be tested.  Many times, a water heater may be set too hot, too cold, or it may be set to a vacation mode.  For the comfort and safety of those living in the property (no scorching please!), check and test the temperature until it is just right.


  1. Test motion lights and check security lighting.  Again, these bulbs can go out at any time and it’s best to check them frequently for not only safety but also for peace of mind.


  1. Make a plan to address items on the home inspection that were not repaired during the sale of the home.  Sure, they may not seem like a big deal now but unfortunately, problems often tend to grow worse over time.  Maintenance and proper care is the best defense.  Plus, when you eventually go to sell, previously small problems could have spiraled to monumental proportions and the next buyer may not be as agreeable to deal with them.


Taking care of the nuts and bolts is a sensible way to start the journey of homeownership.  Sure, it is most definitely more enlivening to tackle a project that is more visual or provoking, however, handling these few easy to do items right away will help to ensure safety so other future projects can be fully enjoyed.


Holly Schwartz is a Realtor with Villa Real Estate who lives in Newport Beach and has been featured on HGTV’s hit show, House Hunters.  She can be reached at with questions and story ideas.

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