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13 Great Tips for New Homeowners and First-Time Home Buyers

New homeowners take heart. Experienced DIYers share their tips about what to do — and not do — after moving in.

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neighborhood Suburban RooftopsHaizhanZheng/Getty Images

Scout the Neighborhood

We went scouting on three separate occasions (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) at different times of the day. We asked neighbors about the neighborhood, schools, etc. It gave us a real indication of what the neighbors and neighborhood were like. We bought the house and love the neighborhood. No regrets. — Jon Rump

Don’t miss these eight tips for moving to another state.

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RenovationSergey Nivens/Shutterstock

Tackle One Project at a Time

When we first bought our old house, I tore right into a porch and kitchen remodel and started on a fence. Before I knew it, I had the whole house AND yard torn up. Ultimately it all came together, but there was a lot of added stress with everything going on at once. — Kirk Pennings

Home improvement causing stress in your marriage? Learn how to complete a home renovation without divorce.
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Watch This Video to Learn More Things You Should Do Before You Move:

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dfh17sep025_208823614_05 writing in a notebook taking notes write an ad journalPORTRAIT IMAGES A SIA BY NONWARIT/Shutterstock

Make a Homeowner’s Journal

Buy a ring binder or multi-pocket file folder and keep insurance papers, repair receipts and all other paperwork pertaining to the house in it.

Storing all your house information in one handy place makes life easier for homeownership and can be a sales “plus” when selling the house later. – reader Debora Emmert

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Gray house exterior with column porch on a rainy day. Northwest, USAArtazum/Shutterstock

Get to Know Your House Before Making Big Changes

Live in your home for 12 to 18 months before undertaking any major renovations such as additions or knocking down walls. What you initially think you want to do may change after you’ve lived there for a while. — Fran Carpentier

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furnace filtersFamily Handyman

Check the Furnace Filter

The easy-to-change but often-neglected furnace filter can give you some insight into whether the previous owner took care of regular maintenance. — Michael Guarraia

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Don’t Be Afraid to DIY

Ninety percent of a DIY project is having the guts to try. Worst case: You mess up and then bring in the professional. Best case: You save money, learn something new and feel a great sense of accomplishment. Don’t miss these 40 home projects you’ll want to DIY. — Fran Skwira

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Install interior trimFamily Handyman

Finish Projects … Now

Don’t learn to live with incomplete projects. If you do, the last couple of pieces of trim can linger for years! Learn these ten reasons you should consider DIY for home repairs.Jack Bauer

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furnace tune up, furnace tune up costFamily Handyman

Budget for Trouble

We bought a house with an old furnace, and we knew it was going to go. Sure enough, the first winter did it in. But because we were prepared, it was just an expense, not a financial shock. — Pat Minick

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Young couple buying a new house home for sale home soldvalentinrussanov/Getty Images

Verify Everything

Insist on full, written disclosure from the seller about remodeling, repairs, old damage, leaks, mold, etc. Check with the city or county, and get — in writing — the property’s permit history, zoning, prior uses, homeowners’ association restrictions and anything else you can find out.

Forget “location, location, location.” I say, “Verify, verify, verify!” Plus, you need to know these 10 tricks home sellers use to pass inspections. — Paul Bianchina

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Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Get a Home Warranty

We had the seller throw in a home warranty. This saved us from a faulty dishwasher and got us a brand new furnace. — Larry Gusman

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CCTV security camera for residence or store protectionThitiwat.Day/Shutterstock

Check Crime Stats

Before buying, get a report of police calls in the neighborhood. That bargain price may stem from the crime rate in the area. These 10 home security mistakes put you and your family at risk. — Mike Collins

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Handy man having a deal with young woman client after the repairment on the kitchen. Home repair service conceptRossHelen/Shutterstock

Ask Neighbors About Pros They Trust

If you’re looking for plumbers, electricians or other pros, ask your neighbors. You tend to receive decent advice if you get it from people who live near you. — Bob Bessette

Here are the six best ways to find a handyman.

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new homeownersMONKEY-BUSINESS-IMAGES/SHUTTERSTOCK

Offer to Buy the Tools, Too

If you buy from a couple that’s downsizing, you might get a great deal if you also purchase their garden tools, tractor, snow blower and tools in general. — Alena Horsky-Gust

Up next, learn 10 home maintenance myths new homeowners wish they knew sooner.