I've bought a house. Now what?

I've bought a house. Now what?

September 19, 2022

Tagged As: Mortgage & Loans

First off, congratulations!

You’ve taken a major step toward financial independence and security, and hopefully your own satisfaction. Of course, there is still the natural question to ask next: now what?

Within two to three weeks of purchase, your new home is processed by the county assessor. Certain pieces of your mortgage information are public record including the borrowers’ name, address, mortgage holder, and the mortgage amount. New home loans often result in several mortgage service solicitations from companies who purchase that public record data and attempt to sell products, warranties, insurance, etc.

If you have a mortgage with Hills Bank, be aware that:

  • Mailings with mortgage service solicitations like insurance and warranties are not affiliated with Hills Bank.
  • Look closely (frequently in fine print) and you should be able to identify the sender.
  • Hills Bank does not provide this information to these third parties.

If you receive a mailing that is attempting to sell you products, warranties, or additional insurance, know that it is not from Hills Bank or from a company that we have endorsed or vetted.

Once I buy a house, how long do I have to live there? 

Buying a home is typically a five-year commitment.

The main reason for staying in your new home for at least five years before you sell is that five years is a typical amount of time for your house to appreciate in value enough to offset the cost of buying it. In simpler terms: to not lose money on your home purchase, you need to sell it for more money!

However, it’s important to note that your house isn’t guaranteed to appreciate in value over this time. In some of the fastest-growing counties in Iowa (such as Dallas, Johnson, Polk, and Warren), you might only need to wait a few years before you can sell at a profit, but in other areas you’ll need more time to build equity in the home.

Buying a house is expensive, and not just because of the sticker price. You’ll also have to factor in closing costs, which include things like the appraisal, title work, recording fees, credit report, and other tasks being performed on your behalf. The average closing costs vary depending on the home, but can typically be a few thousand dollars. That’s money you aren’t getting back. So unless you’re willing to take a significant loss on your investment by moving early, it’s generally best to wait until the value of your home rises along with the rest of the real estate market, and you can sell it for a larger sum of cash – which you can put toward your next down payment!

The other option for homeowners looking to live elsewhere while still paying their mortgage is to start renting their property. That’s right – become a landlord yourself! This option presents an entirely new set of challenges, far too many to go into here. But you should be aware of renting as an option to cover your mortgage costs in the future.

What kind of maintenance will I need to do? 

There are a number of maintenance and upkeep tasks you’ll need to be aware of as a homeowner – including some things you may never have considered living in a dorm or apartment building or with your parent or guardian.

You’ll need to do some of these tasks more often than others. For example, you should do most of these things each month, regardless of the time of year:

  • Clean furnace filter to get rid of dust build-up
  • Check your water softener’s salt levels
  • Clean showerheads and faucet aerators to clear mineral deposits
  • Unclog drains in tubs and sinks
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and ensure fire extinguishers and ground-fault circuit interrupters are working
  • Check indoor and outdoor air vents, removing blockage if necessary
  • Flush out hot water from water heater to clear accumulated sediment
  • Clean the sink garbage disposal by grinding ice cubes, then rinsing with hot water and baking soda

However, as anyone who lives in the Midwest knows, the demands of seasonal maintenance can end up taking more of your time than any other kind of upkeep.

mortgage fall graphic
  • Rake leaves and apply fall fertilizer to your lawn
  • Seal cracks and gaps in windows and doors with caulk or weather stripping
  • Touch up exterior siding and trim with paint
  • Remove leaves from gutters and downspouts
  • Have fireplace inspected and clean flue
  • Inspect driveway for cracks before winter; ice can expand them
  • Check the weather strip at the bottom of your garage door, replace if stiff or cracked
  • Power-wash windows and siding
  • Clean and store outdoor furniture
  • Drain and store hoses and sprinkler systems
  • Check water heater for leaks
  • Wrap insulation around outdoor faucets and pipes in unheated garages
  • Cover your air conditioner with a breathable material, and weigh it down
Picture Perfect Red Barn in Snow Image


  • Shut off interior valves supplying outdoor water pipes to prevent freezing
  • Remove cover from air conditioner
  • During thaw periods, check your basement for leaks
  • Make sure your attic is properly insulated
  • Shovel or snow-blow your driveway, and possibly the area of sidewalk outside your house (depending on your municipality)
  • Consider salting your driveway and walk-up
  • Insulate your rim joist (the area where your foundation meets the basement)
Trusts and Estates
  • Inspect your roof and chimney for winter damage, including cracks, loose shingles, and signs of rot
  • Look at, and consider cleaning, your siding
  • Schedule an HVAC appointment for your air conditioning
  • Evaluate drainage: there should be no standing water by your foundation
  • Check porch flooring
  • Install screens on windows, if you’ve removed them for the winter. Clean screens if you’ve left them on.
  • Trim trees, bushes, and shrubs
  • Change the air-conditioner filter
  • Refinish the deck
  • Oil garage door tracks
Home Equity Loan
  • Look for visible signs of carpenter ants, termites, or other destructive insects
  • Scrape, prime, and paint areas on house or garage that need it
  • If house or garage don’t need paint, wash at least once
  • Clean carpets and wax tile and hardwood floors
  • Check concrete drive, sidewalks, patios, and landings for condition and level; patch cracks, level, and/or replace as needed
  • Clean kitchen exhaust fan filter
  • Clean refrigerator and freezer coils; empty and clean drip trays
  • Check for leaks in the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and around dishwashers and toilets
  • Seal tile grout

There’s no getting around it: that’s a lot of stuff to do! It can help to set aside a time each week for chores, and think about what you want to get accomplished ahead of time, using this list as a reference. 

Have more questions? Check out our Mortgage FAQs, or get in touch with your lender