I’ve closed and I have the keys. Is there anything else I should know?

Answer – Congratulations! Enjoy your new home. The closer should have given you a packet with copies of all of the closing docs and mortgage papers in it. Make sure you find a safe place to sort those documents. You should receive a copy of the deed from the County in about a month. Put that with your closing packet.  

In Michigan the closer would have put the Homestead Exemption form on top of your packet, so that you can take that to the Township and claim your homestead exemption. That has the impact of lowering your taxes on the property about 30% lower than they would be without it, so get over to the Township and get that in ASAP.

For most closings you would now be pretty much home free. We’ll just look at a few things to be aware of and a danger or two.

If you were provided with a Home Warranty as part of the deal, it’s a good idea to call the company and just make sure that they have your contact information correctly recorded in their database. Also put the warranty brochure or other paperwork that you received somewhere safe and somewhere that you can remember if you need to call in a problem. Remember that you must call the warranty company first if there is a problem. They will not reimburse you after you’ve called your own plumber in to fix something.

Make sure to contact the various utilities to check that they have done any final readings that were requested and transitioned the accounts into your name. If you are on city water and sewer you may have to wait until the next billing cycle before the bill can be pro-rated between you and the seller. Check with the city water department on how they will do that. If the bill comes to the house, contact the title company that represented the seller and get them a copy of the bill. They are responsible for paying the pro-rated portion that the seller owes. You may have to send it through your agent and the listing agent to get it to the right place.

You may wish to consider having the door locks re-keyed. Even if the seller gave you all of the keys that they had to the place there could be others out there in the hands of relatives or neighbors. It’s just good practice to change the locks when you change ownership. Enjoy your new home!

But, what about if I find something unexpected wrong with the house now?

Well, at this point, it’s your house. You had your chances at the inspections and final walk-through to uncover those things. It is possible that the old owner was unaware of the problem, so don’t immediately assume that this was some defect that they hid from you. Hopefully it is covered under the home warranty. If not, it is your problem now as the new owners.

If it is an issue concerning a cloud on the title (a long lost relative suddenly showing up and claiming a right to the property) call the title company. It is their responsibility to protect you against that type of claim.

It can get a little hairy if it involves an unrecorded lien (or tax) against the property. You can make the case that the title company should have found that lien and they will fight back that it was not recorded anywhere and their title commit clearly states that they are insuring you against recorded issues. If it turns out to be a tax issue the title company probably should have caught that and you should press your case with them. Get them involved is it is anything that involves a claim against the property.

It is possible that the old owners did hide some material facts from you; things like the fact that they finished the basement themselves without pulling permits (lots of homeowners do that) or that the deck that they built out back actually encroaches 5 feet into the rear neighbor’s yard. Those “facts” should have been disclosed on the Seller’s Disclosure, so maybe you think that was a fraudulent document; however, we have just stepped across the line from real estate into legal matters, so I will invite you to find a good lawyer to handle your questions on what to do about that.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series of posts about the real estate process from the first-time buyer’s perspective. I will be making more posts to cover questions and topics that were not covered as part of the real estate process itself. Those topics will provide information on things that a first time buyer may have never encountered before or at least didn’t have to worry about in the past. There are lots of things that a renter doesn’t have to concern themselves with that a home buyer must be aware of and make decisions about.

Norm Werner is a Realtor® working for Real Estate One in Milford, Michigan. Norms helps people buy and sell houses in Southeastern Michigan, in Oakland, Livingston and Macomb Counties You can contact Norm about finding a new home or about getting a Market Analysis for your current home by texting or calling him at 248-763-2497 or click here to go to his web site and fill out Help Form for buyers and sellers.

To see all of the post that have been made to this series of posts go to the post series index.