By Bo Kauffmann
1) Between the time when your offer has been accepted and the actual day-of-possession, DO NOT make any changes to your financial status. For example, do not go out and get a car loan, or buy lots of furniture on a lay-away-plan. Many lenders will perform a second credit check just BEFORE you take possession of your new home, and if they find that your total debt-ratio is now outside of their preferred range, they can decline to advance the mortgage. Meaning you still lose the house.
2) Make sure that you are able to access any and all cash you need to ‘close’ the deal. This will mean the rest of your down payment, the land taxes, legal fees, insurance costs etc. Scrambling on the last day before possession to get your money out is no fun. In fact, you could still lose the house if you don’t have the money to close on the deal.
3) About two weeks before you take possession, make sure that you’ve contacted a competent real estate lawyer and obtained property insurance. A mortgage lender will not give you the money unless the property is fully insured. Sometimes, insurance companies have questions that may take a few days to answer, so do not wait until the last few days to get home insurance.
4) Go into the home immediately at the time of your possession and check a number of things. Make sure that:
- All inclusions are left behind (e.g. fridge, stove, window-coverings). In extreme cases, a seller may even remove items such as door knobs.
- The home has not suffered any damage since the time you last saw it. Check the basement for water, check the ceilings for any fresh leaks, turn on the furnace and A/C. If anything is amiss, call your real estate agent or, if it’s a larger issue, call your lawyer immediately. For example, if the living room curtains are missing, a quick call to your agent might straighten out that misunderstanding. However, if you find that a stove top fire has damaged the kitchen, you may want to call your lawyer ASAP.
- You take and report all meter readings. Electricity, gas and water should be recorded and reported to the proper authorities to make sure your readings match with those that the seller gave. You don’t want to be paying for the seller’s last month of heat and water.
5) If you are coming from a rented apartment, remember that in a house you will have to pay for all of the utilities such as electricity, gas, water, and TV & communications. It will be important for you to budget for these additional monthly expenses.
6) Another large portion of your new costs will be property taxes. You may choose to include this in your monthly mortgage payment.