If you’re starting 2021 as a new homeowner, then congratulations are in order. You’ve weathered some very unusual home buying circumstances, from virtual home walkthroughs, to zero open houses, even perhaps a virtual closing. 

Now that that’s all done, you’ve got time to think about what being a first-time homebuyer really means! 

In addition to all the fun of decorating, arranging your furniture, and having guests over to see your new space, buying a home also means a big responsibility: You’ve got to manage all the maintenance and upkeep. That can seem daunting, but if you stay on top of things, you’ll find it’s not nearly as overwhelming as it may seem. 

Here are a few home maintenance tips for first-time homebuyers.

First thing: change your locks or have them rekeyed

Since there’s no way to tell who or how many people have keys to your home, it’s a good idea to change your locks or have them rekeyed right after you move in, or even before. 

You’ll give yourself some additional peace of mind, and reduce the chances that a total stranger walks into your home to visit with the former owners! 

Check and change out your HVAC filters

Shortly after you move in, it’s a good idea to check your HVAC filters in case they need to be changed out. Afterward, make sure you change them every three months. 

Find your main water shut-off valve

Let’s hope you never have to deal with a burst pipe, but if that does happen, you absolutely  want to be able to get to your water shut-off valve and turn everything off before you’ve got a major flood on your hands. These are usually located on the outside of the house, on the side that faces the street. 

And if you’re in an older home, there may not be a main shut-off—in that case, you’d turn off your water at the water meter, which should be at the curb at the end of your property line. 

Figure out what you’ll need to do to maintain your landscaping

Letting your curb appeal go downhill once you move in is one factor to watch out for that can lower your property value—fast. 

Were the previous owners master gardeners, but you’ve got a black thumb? Then unless you want to hire a landscaping company to care for all the plants and flowers that are now yours, you may want to opt for something simpler that requires less maintenance. 

At the same time, adding some simple touches like solar lights along your walkways, a paving stone path in your backyard, or putting down new mulch (if the sellers didn’t do that before listing) can be a good way to instantly increase your home value. 

Taking care of your home when you’re a first-time homebuyer can be a lot of work, but by planning and not letting things fall by the wayside, you can ensure that your home stays in great shape—and that you get to spend more time enjoying it, than fixing it.