Welcome to this month’s installment of Dear Urbaneer, where we open our virtual mailbag and take on real estate questions from our readers. This time, Steve replies to a couple who will very soon be taking possession of their first home. With so much to do in preparation for the move, they’re worried they’ll miss something essential, and are looking for advice on logistics as well as any other tips we have for a smooth transition into homeownership!
After a long hunt to purchase our home, we are excited to be moving into our first house soon. We are in the process of compiling our moving checklist and have questions regarding some things to be done prior to moving, like arranging for utilities, insurance, and more. How do we arrange for property taxes? Do you have any helpful tips for after we move in too?
Totally NOT Freaking Out…
Dear Freaking Out:
It’s exciting moving into your first house, especially if you have been dreaming of that special day for some time. However, when you are new to the experience, it’s understandable if you have questions and concerns around what to anticipate, such as who does what and when. While settling into a freehold dwelling can be different for everyone, there are definitely concrete preparations you can make to ensure a smooth move.
Here are some helpful hints to help you put your plan in place and your mind at ease!
I’d argue that moving homes is up there among the more stressful life events that a person can expect to experience in their lifetimes. Given the myriad of tasks and arrangements to complete, being displaced temporarily, and having your life’s contents packed in boxes (even if for a short while), it’s not surprising that moving often incites a whirlwind of emotion.
The most efficient approach to a situation like this one is to find out ahead of time what you’ll need to do and to make a moving checklist of course. Proper planning can mean the difference between a smooth move and a logistical nightmare.
In this post Dear Urbaneer: Help! Do You Have A Moving Checklist?, I cover the important things like hiring the right moving company, packing, pre-move maintenance, change of address, and a step-by-step guide of tasks to complete to make your moving day run smoothly. Of course, you will need to make a list that reflects your own individual needs, but the items in this post are a great start!
For some more handy moving tips, check out this past post of mine: Urbaneer’s Tips For A Smooth Move.
Have you lived through the horror of losing Wifi at home?! Don’t let this mar your early days as a homeowner. From your work-from-home needs, to your entertainment, to simply staying in touch, getting your telecommunications in order is paramount.
You are not obligated to take on any contracts that current homeowners might have with a provider. You are welcome to switch over with your current provider, or perhaps this is a good time to think about switching to someone new, especially if your usage needs will change in your new space.
Will you use a landline? Are you working from home? Do you have a larger space now that might require a more powerful (and plentiful) internet connection? Is there a different infrastructure in your new neighbourhood? Think about what your needs will be and use this opportunity to get the best value for your money. Often you can save by bundling your cable, wifi, and other services under the umbrella of one organization. Certainly, a move is a good time to check-in and negotiate what is best for you.
The bigger providers have moving support departments specifically geared to help you through the move process, taking care of logistics, like setting up necessary onsite appointments, etc. If you are transferring your current service, you simply just provide them with your new address and information. Give them two to three weeks’ advance notice.
Just like with telecommunication companies, you’re not obliged to use the firms the current homeowner use for utilities. In fact, homebuyers can set up accounts with the companies of their choosing with the closing date as the start date.
Like with your telecommunications, consider your needs, and shop around to find the best value for your household. Check out this link, Toronto Electricity Providers and Natural Gas Services, to review what your options are.
Property Taxes & Waste Collection
Although you should confirm directly with your lawyer, typically, on your behalf they will likely liaise with the City of Toronto regarding the transfer of title and a new account in your name for Property Taxes and Utility Costs ( meaning waste and water costs) will be set up. The city also provides this link.
For waste collection, the owners usually leave the existing garbage, recycling, and organics bins at the property on closing. If they’re not to your liking or size, you can then exchange them. Here’s the City of Toronto web page on garbage bin sizes and fees. Here is the City Of Toronto waste pickup schedule – simply enter your address in their search bar!
Additional Service Contracts
Have the current homeowners used any other services, like landscaping, snow removal, or something else like a local cleaning company? It’s worth enquiring if they have used any of these services to see if you’d care to continue. Find out about ongoing seasonal and annual maintenance requirements for building components like your heating and cooling systems, sprinkler systems, chimney cleaning, and ductwork cleaning, etc. It can be to your benefit to work with someone who is already familiar with your home and its components.
Similarly, does your home come with an alarm system? If you are interested in keeping this active, you will need to contact the company to sign a new agreement and create a new plan for you.
Usually, your lawyer will arrange for Title Insurance on closing, but you might want to make the inquiry to double-check. Title insurance protects you from a host of potential losses for things such as fraud, survey errors, encroachment issues, existing undisclosed liens, as well as any other issues that prevent you from having clear ownership of your property.
For more information about title insurance, read this post Dear Urbaneer: Will Title Insurance Cover A Prior Renovation Completed Without A Building Permit? and I’m Buying A Property. What Does A Real Estate Lawyer Do?
Before you move into your new home, speak to your insurance broker about arranging appropriate insurance coverage for your new property – even if it’s a condominium. Why? Because each condo corporation may have its own limitations in coverage that require additional insurance riders beyond covering your personal contents or unit upgrades. Being proactive in this area is important because you don’t want to risk a lapse in coverage. Usually, insurance companies will cover you while moving between homes (up to 30 days, but check the fine print and consult with your broker for confirmation).
When you contact your insurer to place a policy on the new residence, they’re going to ask you several questions over the phone. The presale inspection report will likely have most of the information they require but it’s feasible not everything will be clear (like where the nearest fire hydrant is located).
However, regardless of how accurate or not your answers are, I encourage you to invite your insurer in to vet the property and to ask them if your insurance coverage is appropriate and adequate.
They may also identify deficiencies you should attend to in order to preserve your insurance. This is ok, in that the objective is to invite them in so that the insurance policy aligns with what their representative has identified, so if there is an issue at a later date, they can’t deny you your claim because you answered their question incorrectly. Here is why: The Importance Of Accurate Homeowner Insurance Coverage.
Helpful Hints For When You Make Your Move
When you’ve finally moved in and closed the door to the day for the first time, there is so much that you are going to want to do. This handy post talks about tackling maintenance and cleaning when you move in by creating a manageable to-do list Dear Urbaneer: We’ve Moved Into Our New Home. Now What?
This post provides some inspiration on how to furnish and design your new home Dear Urbaneer: How Do I Best Equip And Furnish My Home? (+ Design Tips!)
Beyond that, here are some quick & easy items to knock off early in your tenure as a homeowner to create a smooth path forward.
You won’t be able to unpack everything at once, and living out of half-empty boxes for any length of time will drive you nuts. Ideally, you should have packed a box with your essentials (clothing, toiletries, a few pots and pans, coffee mugs, glasses, and a few place settings, etc.). This way you can settle somewhat into a routine while you work towards unpacking your home. And an important tip. Only unpack one box at a time and then complete it before you move on to the next.
Even if you have a company unpacking for you, having an essential box at hand will make your life easier.
Find & Print Appliance Manuals
Hopefully, the Sellers have left you the manuals for all of your appliances. If not, record serial and product numbers and search the internet. Most manuals are available online. It’s a good idea to print these out and have them somewhere central. There is nothing more annoying than having your washing machine kick out mid-cycle, or having your dishwasher spew error codes and then having to scramble around to find a manual.
Consulting a manual will help you determine the gravity of the problem at hand, and whether or not you need to call in the pros. You should also find out about any warranties applied to appliances, which is good information to have.
Locate Panels and Alarms
You can reduce your homeowner stress levels by thinking ahead and proactively seeking out the location and any other necessary information around functional spots, switches, and valves in your home.
After all, if you experience a plumbing emergency or power outage, you will value knowing where everything is and how to use things in the heat of an emergency moment.
Determine the location of your water valve. Go through your circuit breaker and fuse box, and make sure corresponding labels match up with actual use. Also check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to make sure they are functioning and that they have new batteries in them.
Check out this past post: Dear Urbaneer: How Can I Prepare My Home For Emergencies?
Label Light Switches
This is a small but very useful task- especially for the short term. It’s worthwhile labeling light switches with painter’s tape so that you are aware of what light switch works which light. Although it might seem obvious, you’d be surprised at how often that logic doesn’t add up. Painter’s tape is easily removable once you’ve gotten used to the switches.
Wishing you all the best in your new adventure. Urbaneer is here for you!
At Urbaneer, we’re invested in your housing happiness. Whether you’re buying or selling, the journey can be emotionally, mentally, and physically intense. This is why we pride ourselves on our steady hand, prudent counsel, and we’re here to help you from start to finish with practical tips and tricks to ease your stress. We’re here to help!
Here are some more useful posts I’ve penned with helpful information on making a move:
May my team and I be your realtors of choice?
Thanks for reading!
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – (416) 322-800
– we’re here to earn your trust, then your business –
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