I've Bought a Home. Now What?
Here's a Good Moving Guide

After the excitement of finding and buying, you'll need a good moving guide. Here are some helpful moving tips to make your moving day less stressful.

Homeowners must contact their own utility service providers (electricity, gas, water, cable/Internet and telephone) to inform them of the moving day (typically the day on which the sale closes or lease expires) so that utility metres can be read (personally or remotely) and services moved to the new location or disconnected. Thus, sellers will appreciate these moving tips too.

Planning a move means fewer surprises - for everyone

Moving Guide

Obviously, the first priority is to make your best efforts during the time allotted to comply with any conditions contained in your Agreement of Purchase and Sale. You'll need to complete the mortgage application by delivering a copy of the real estate contract to your lender or mortgage broker. If you've not already done so, provide them with written confirmation of employment income and down payment.

Your realty agent can make arrangements for the home inspection and, for rural property, the well tests and anything else that needs doing.

If you've bought a condominium (click for special suggestions), your lawyer or closing service will want to review the Status Certificate. Your agent will ensure it's ordered from the property manager.

Of course, if your offer is conditional upon the sale of your old home, you'll have to get busy with its marketing immediately. Click here for more information about such a condition, and whether to buy or sell first.

Once these are completed, you'll be asked by your human moving guide - your agent - to sign a Notice of Fulfillment of Condition or a Waiver to remove the conditions from the Agreement of Purchase and Sale.

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The SOLD Sign

But wait - your work isn't over yet. There's lots more to this moving guide.

Now, besides purging and packing, you must arrange for a moving service. If you learn nothing else from this moving guide,

Don't leave this critical step until the last minute

... especially if you plan to move at the end of a month. Since school is out, summertime is particularly busy for family moves. It's often cheaper to hire a moving service on a weekday - Monday through Thursday - since hourly rates are often higher on Fridays and weekends and for moves at the end or beginning of a month. It's a supply and demand thing.

A big part of planning a move is, as I said earlier in this moving guide, contacting the utility companies who'll supply your electricity, heating fuel and cable or satellite services for television, Internet and telephone. Do you intend to have a security system? Water softener? Service contracts for your furnace and air conditioner? They'll all need your contact information and moving date. Be aware that there may be administration fees for setting up new accounts for utilities and services. And if you're a new customer, you might be asked by a utility supplier for a security deposit or letter of reference from your previous supplier.

Also arrange for redirection of any newspaper or magazine subscriptions, finalize a home insurance policy, register the kids at the local school and contact the post office for change of address. Such service changes may be available on their website. And don't forget about the credit union, bank and credit card companies. Your accountant, stock broker or financial planner would also like to be included. Phew! So much to do! No wonder you need a thorough moving guide.

If you lease your vehicle, advise the lessor of your new address. And the same goes for the dealership where you bought your new car in case they need to reach you for warranty or service appointments. Do you keep a boat at a marina? Belong to any clubs? Add them to your moving guide contact list.

And don't forget about Big Brother. Government agencies or departments like the Ministries of Transport and Health demand to be kept informed. In Ontario, contact the local branch of Service Ontario and Service Canada. Let your life insurance companies and health-care providers - doctor, dentist and therapists - know your new address and phone number.

And of course, an integral part of any move is sending personal change of address cards (via email or snail-mail) to everyone important in your life.

One of the most important moving tips, if you're planning a move into a condominium apartment, is to book your moving day with property management or the on-site security staff. They'll reserve the elevator for you and may require a refundable damage deposit. There may also be restrictions on the days or times of day when moves are permitted.

If you're planning a move to a rural property, consider asking the current owner for the contact info of anyone they've used to service the septic tank, well equipment or plow the lane-way. And if there's a swimming pool, the contact info for their pool service company will be helpful.

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And now for the legal stuff of this moving guide.

About a week or so prior to closing (after which you'll have legal possession), someone from the office of your lawyer or closing service will call to confirm a meeting to sign the closing documents. They'll tell you how much money to bring in, or your closing costs, in the form of a bank draft or certified cheque payable to your lawyer or closer.

These funds include the balance of your down payment (the deposit submitted with the offer forms part of your total down payment), the lawyer's disbursements (government registration and various search fees, land transfer taxes, title insurance premium, etc) and adjustments (property taxes, mortgage interest and monthly condo fee or heating oil if applicable) made on your behalf. And of course, their fee for handling the purchase will be included.

Due to Canadian federal legislation, even if you've known your lawyer since you were a kid, they'll ask for at least one officially acceptable means of identification. A valid driver's license, birth certificate or passport will usually suffice.

Your lawyer will also request that you ask your mortgage lender to forward mortgage instructions to your lawyer's office as soon as possible. And you must ask your insurance company to confirm that your new home is insured for fire - effective on the closing date - with any loss payable to the mortgage company.

If you're using funds for your down payment from a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) and have questions, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website CRA. I'm sure there's an equivalent program for our American neighbours.

Someone from your lawyer's office will contact you after closing to confirm that you now own a home. You can then ...

Retrieve Your Keys

... from their office. Sometimes, arrangements can be made to pick up the key from the conveyancer at the Land Titles/Registry Office. A reporting letter will follow containing your Statement of Adjustments, deed, mortgage and various other documents.

When Can We Actually
Move In?

Any smart moving guide would be incomplete if it failed to address this common question: When is our moving day?

A standard Agreement of Purchase and Sale states that the closing will be completed by 6:00 pm on the date fixed for completion. In my experience, this is often misunderstood by sellers and buyers - and even agents.

It does not mean that the seller has until 6:00 pm to vacate the property

It does not mean the new owner can take possession anytime on that day

What it technically means is that once the closing takes place and title has transferred from the seller to the buyer in exchange for the agreed purchase funds, the seller must be off the premises and the buyer can legally take possession and move in. A closing could occur anytime on the date set for completion, or earlier if agreed between the parties.

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An Unpleasant Surprise

A situation to avoid is a buyer's moving service stalled outside the house for many hours, waiting while the seller removes their belongings from the property - with the mover's clock continuing to tick. Because this delay results in a more expensive move, the buyer may have cause for legal action against the seller to recover such unanticipated extra costs. The seller is actually in default of the contract because they agreed to ...

Deliver vacant possession to the buyer upon closing

To minimize the chances of this potentially expensive unpleasantness,

Don't plan to move in on the completion date

Better safe than sorry. To avoid midnight moves, plan the move for at least the following day or later. It'll cost you some interest and maybe a bank fee, but it may just save you some heartache.

And since you don't really know if anyone out there still has a key to your new home, plan to change the locks.

Are You Happy?

Now, the absolute best part of this moving guide is to remember to announce to all your friends and family that you've bought your first home!!


Aren't you glad you hired an agent? By trying to go it alone, you may have missed the opportunity to see the brand new hot listings and settled for a property that others had passed up. Agents provide a highly valuable service and usually charge no fee to the buyer. But choose your agent with care.

Contact me for an agent recommendation in your area.

One More Thing

Don't forget to thank your realty agent for their hard work. Nothing says thanks more than referring your friends, relatives and business associates to them. Our business is based primarily on satisfied returning clients and their referrals.

Oh - just one more suggestion on this moving guide. Your moving service will surely have more moving tips for you. Just ask.

If you're interested in buying real estate like a pro, with or without the guidance of an agent, check out my book The Happy Agent. It's chock full of home searching tips, negotiating techniques and advice and more that could make the difference between a delightful and exciting purchase experience and a potentially hellish nightmare with unpleasant surprises.

A small investment of your time and a pittance of your money could conceivably save you thousands of dollars and a ton of potential heartache. Make informed decisions. Remember - knowledge is power.

Available virtually everywhere print and e-books are sold.

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