Things to Do When Buying a House That Was Unoccupied for Years

After you buy an unoccupied home, it may be tempting to kick back and relax, but there are several steps you should take right away to get your new home up and running quickly and efficiently. When you buy an unoccupied home, especially one that’s been sitting empty for some time, it’s a must to make sure the property is safe and free of major issues before you move in. 

Here are some things to do after you buy an unoccupied home to help you keep yourself safe and sound while living there.

Be Sure That You’ve Filled The Paperwork 

It can be easy to get carried away when you’re looking at buying a vacant home — or other property that’s been sitting empty for a while. Before you sign anything, be sure you’ve done your due diligence. Make sure there are no liens on record for it and that it hasn’t been condemned or taken by the city or county. These things could all have an impact on whether you have the right to live in or sell it. If there are issues, work them out with whoever is trying to collect on them before going through with buying or negotiating to purchase from them outright. 

Arrange Your Utilities

Before you move in, make sure that your electricity, water, and natural gas are hooked up. If you bought a vacant home, these utilities will probably be off. 

Contact your utility company and have them turn on all services in your name. Be aware of any fees associated with reconnecting utilities before they’re turned on. Even if you don’t plan on moving into your new house for months or years, it is still wise to arrange your utilities so everything is ready when you decide to occupy it. It may take longer than expected, so be prepared.

Get Insurance

If you’re still on a renter’s policy, it might be time to switch over. Purchasing an owner’s insurance policy provides better coverage than your renter’s policy and protects your property in case of damage from natural disasters or theft. Most policies also provide liability protection in case anyone is injured while on your property, which could happen if, for example, they trip over that stray cat. It also may be a good idea to invest in flood insurance if your neighborhood falls within a high-risk zone.

Hire Maintenance Workers

Even if you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person, there will likely come a time when you need help. When that happens, it’s best to have both short-term and long-term solutions in place. For example, it may be wise to find someone with some knowledge of plumbing who can handle small tasks until you find a more permanent solution. Before choosing someone for either position, though, make sure you vet them thoroughly. Having tradespeople around might sound intimidating at first, especially if they’re making big changes like tiling or painting, but they are ultimately on your side!

Do Mold Tests 

Moving into a new house, you’ll probably want to do some renovations and upgrades. But before you break out that sledgehammer, it’s important to ensure your investment isn’t contaminated with mold. Mold can spread very quickly in an old home, and even if it’s not present now, there may be places where it grows later. We recommend having mold testing done as soon as possible so you can detect any problems early. If necessary, seek a professional cleaning service to remove any harmful mold from your property.

Know that You Might Restore A Lot 

Before you buy a vacant home, make sure you are ready for all the work involved in bringing it back to life. You must have money set aside for property improvements. If there are serious structural issues with your home, or if it is unsafe in any way, then you should consider hiring a professional contractor. By knowing what challenges lie ahead, you can budget accordingly and feel confident in your investment decisions.

Check out your new neighborhood

If you’re in a new neighborhood, it’s probably a good idea to get out and meet your neighbors. Not only is it nice for them to have a sense of who they’re living next door to, but they may be able to help if you run into any problems, like if there’s an issue with something on your property. Plus, knowing your neighbors might also prove helpful when you want advice on contractors or other services.

While a vacant home is enticing, it can also be a lot of work. And while you may not have moved in yet, it’s significant to think through all of your options and plans before moving into a house you don’t own. Use these tips to decide what’s best for you—and protect yourself against liens and other legal issues down the road.