Ducks in a Row

Wood house model on computer laptop

You’ve finished house hunting – now it’s time to move in. Here’s what you need to know about getting services set up before you step over the threshold.

By Carley Lintz

Moving into a new home is never a stress-free ordeal. But, the last thing you want on top of the headache of packing up your entire life is to move into a home without running water, electricity or heat.

In the excitement and fervor of real estate negotiations, it’s easy to forget about the little details, especially for first-time homebuyers. As the buyer, though, it is your responsibility – not the seller’s – to ensure the utilities are transferred over to your name in time for the big move.

Here are a few key pieces of expert advice to keep in mind when handling the transfer and set up of utilities in your new home.

1. Discuss utilities with the seller before closing.

Electricity meterBefore you finalize the sale, you should inquire about current utility providers, including water and sewer, electricity, gas, telephone, cable/satellite, internet, and trash collection with the seller. This will ensure that there is no interruption in services and prevent you from being left with any outstanding bills from the previous owner.

Always check the seller’s disclosure to see who the current providers are to save time. There is a place to list them and their phone numbers. Oftentimes, the seller will need to inform the company of their upcoming move and approve the utilities to be put in a new name.

2. Don’t wait until the last minute.

Getting services set up typically takes three to five days, but can take longer in the summer, which is the peak moving season. To be on the safe side,  contact  providers two weeks before the move-in date. It’s also important to note that as a new owner, you may be required to pay a utility deposit, so be sure to ask about any fees and budget appropriately.

3. Find the best providers for your needs.

While some providers are preset depending on where you live (water/sewer, electricity, gas), for others you often have a choice. Start your search by asking about the providers the previous owner used. For instance, if they used a cable provider, it will be more hassle to switch to a satellite service. Don’t forget to ask about services like trash collection and home security as well.

When researching companies, read the fine print carefully, including prices, service options and cancellation policies. One of the biggest mistakes for first-time homebuyers is getting locked into a contract that can’t be cancelled for an extended period of time. This is most likely to occur with a cable or satellite dish company.

4. Notify providers if the closing date changes.

African businesswoman talking on telephoneUnfortunately, things happen during the real estate process and closing dates can change. This is just a part of many real estate transactions and it’s easy to just call the company back and move the transfer of service date. Don’t wait too long, though, or you could end up paying for utilities you aren’t using.