Six Things to Do Right After Buying a Home in Florida

There are plenty of things to do after buying a home in Florida. Here are six of our favorite tips:

1) Change the Locks on Closing Day

This seems obvious, but do it on day one. It should be the first call you make when you leave the closing table. You have no way of knowing who or how many people have (or had) access to a key to your new home. You’d be surprised how many new homeowners put it off —or don’t replace them at all.

2) Find the Main Water Shut-off Valve and Tag it

The main water shut off valve is sometimes the only thing standing between you and catastrophe. Shutting it off is the first thing you do in an emergency. If you have a leak or broken pipe, everyone in the home should know where it is and be able to shut it off at literally a moment’s notice. Note that there will typically be a valve under a plate in the street or even on your lawn, for the townships’ access, but they really don’t want you to use that if you can avoid it.

Follow a straight (or nearly straight) line from the valve in the street to your home’s foundation and your valve will usually be just inside the foundation wall. It will either have a lever handle (the easiest and best) or a knob. With a lever, the water is on when it is in line with the pipe. To turn it off, move the lever perpendicular to the pipe. With a knob, turn it clockwise (righty-tighty to turn off), and lefty-loosy to turn it back on.

3) Purchase Flood Insurance — Even if You’re Not in a Flood Zone

Many homeowners think hurricane insurance will cover them in a flood. Not true. Most hurricane coverage is for damage from wind. Flood damage is its own category and requires separate coverage. Even if you are not in a flood zone, the coverage is still very important in Florida and is actually quite inexpensive.

If your home is, in fact, located in a flood zone, the cost will depend on the type of flood zone you are in. Hopefully, when you purchased the property, an elevation certificate was conveyed which shows the current status of your flood zone. In either case, having a flood insurance policy in place will make all the financial difference in the world after a storm that brings water into your home; possibly saving you tens of thousands of dollars in repairs and restoration.

4) Get the HVAC Serviced

Unless the previous owner provided you with a receipt or documentation that the air conditioning system was serviced in the last couple of months by a licensed and insured HVAC company, it is best to schedule a service yourself. In Florida, filters should be changed every month or so. You might even want to have the vents cleaned, too. The air quality in your home is obviously very important, but even more so if anyone in the home has allergies, asthma, or any respiratory issues.

5) Hire a Home Watch Company

If you are a part-time seasonal resident, snowbird, or simply travel a lot —leaving your home unoccupied for even up to 30 days —you should strongly consider engaging a certified home watch company, for safety and insurance reasons. Most insurance carriers will not honor claims for damage that occurs in an unoccupied homes. They want confirmation that someone is visiting the home for you on a consistent basis.

Some homeowners rely on a neighbor or family member to check on the property. While they might be well-meaning, they are not professionally trained and educated to know what to look for; nor will they have insurance, or be able to send thorough electronic reporting to you. A licensed, bonded, certified, and insured home watch company not only will keep you connected to your asset in a consistent and professional manner, but they can also perform concierge services for you in your absence and be your point of contact for pre-hurricane prep and post-hurricane reporting.

6) Make a Hurricane Checklist

Every home is different and every home has its own hurricane prep checklist. Having a reliable and consistent checklist to prepare for a storm is critical.

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