How-to Monday: What to do after you buy
Image courtesy of StockXCHNG, produced by kikashi
So you've bought a house -- now what?
A Wonk reader had the excellent suggestion that new homeowners could use a few pointers about, well, being new homeowners. It's one of those potentially never-ending lists, so please add your thoughts where I leave off.
First up on the list: Dotted lines awaiting your signature.
--Sign up for utility service (and cancel it at your current location, if applicable). Baltimore Gas & Electric says to make your request at least three business days before you move. Call 410-685-0123.
--Update your address. The U.S. Postal Service lets you fill out a change of address form HERE, but you'll want to tell other people, companies, government agencies, etc., as well.
--Register to vote. The Maryland State Board of Elections explains how -- and answers other voting questions -- HERE.
--Apply for the Homestead Tax Credit, which puts a ceiling on property tax increases once you've been in the property a full fiscal year (meaning July 1 through June 30). New buyers have 180 days to apply after purchase.
--Not from Maryland? Once you move in, you have 60 days to apply for a Maryland driver's license if you want to capitalize on the fact that you already have one from another state. Click HERE for more information.
--Have kids? Don't forget to register them for school (or homeschool, if you prefer). In the case of public school, you can usually register at the location your child will be attending, the Maryland State Department of Education says. If you're not sure which school district you're in, call your local school board.
--Have pets? Get them licensed. You can see Baltimore's rules HERE.
--Planning on renovating? Make sure you know what permits and inspections you'll need. Howard County has a list of its rules HERE.
Live Baltimore Home Center has a useful "Now That You're Here" list that city residents might also want to check out. Thanks to executive director Anna Custer for pointing me to it.
Other things to consider:
--Inquire about trash and recycling pick-up. Baltimore has recycling times and information HERE. Baltimore County suggests calling 410-887-2000 to have the recycling schedule sent to you.
--Join your neighborhood association. You can find a list of city neighborhood groups (and a lot of other neighborhood-related information) on Live Baltimore's site HERE. If you live in the city and wonder which of the many neighborhoods is yours, enter your address HERE to find out.
--Make sure your mortgage company is escrowing enough of your money for property taxes.
--Keep up with local happenings. Baltimore County, for instance, offers newsletters you can subscribe to HERE.
--Find convenient libraries. Start HERE to choose the library system you want.
Now wait a minute, you say. Almost all of these things are useful to new renters, too, not just new homeowners, and some of these things would be handy for long-time residents!
Yes, you've found me out. I'm devious.
So: What else would you recommend people do before or after they move?