Adventures in home buying 6: Getting ready to take possession of a home

A series about a young family’s search for that first resale home.

Lists, lists, lists: getting ready to take possession of a home seems to revolve around making lists and then actually trying to turn those lists into action.

Here’s what we’ve learned had to be done before moving into our new home at the end of this month.

Arrange home insurance

First, I consulted with an insurance broker who provided several options for just home insurance or combined home/auto, which was less costly. I ultimately went with the bank that currently provides our tenant and car insurance. Their quote was substantially lower and staying with them meant not having to shift policy numbers and a lot of administrative headaches.

That said, it was not a breeze. I spent well over three hours on the phone with various agents going over property details and confirming where the paperwork should go.

Finalize the mortgage

Although we had been pre-approved by one company, we ended up switching lenders, which meant digging out and sending more proofs of income.

As well, we had to provide copies of government identification with photos (health cards aren’t admissible) as well as proof of funds for our closing costs, which involved a screen shot of both my RRSP account and my current savings account.

And, of course, we had to sign and initial about 15 pages worth of documents.

Set up utility accounts

Like most things on our lists, we knew beforehand that utilities had to be notified. But, like most things on our lists, there was also nothing we could do about it until other things had been done, like ensuring we had our mortgage finalized and that we’d actually be homeowners.

It meant calling Hydro Ottawa, the gas company, and the City of Ottawa for water. All required the new address, various personal details and payment information.

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The lawyer

More work: proof of insurance, our finalized mortgage papers, and our Agreement of Sale and Purchase were forwarded to our lawyer so he could prepare all the closing papers, which include Registration of Deed, Registration of Mortgage, and Title Insurance.

The pre-move

My partner, Craig, tracked down some online pre-moving checklists, which include things like forwarding mail, notifying companies, friends and family about your move, and switching the address on licences and car registration. We found this one especially helpful because it itemizes things to do each week prior to the move.

Cull, pack, reminisce

I may be exhausted from all the administrative work, but there’s still the packing to think of. So far we have culled our clothes and our daughter Tilly’s toys and countless books (there were a few tears shed reminiscing over her baby books especially). The books, toys, and Tilly’s clothes all went to Boomerang Kids with the hope of selling at least some of them on consignment. Our clothes, shoes and other items will go to St. Vincent de Paul to help with their charitable work.

Our storage unit in the basement of our apartment building has reached hoarder territory at this point, with bags and boxes exploding out into the basement’s common space. I’ve been putting off entering it, but with moving day less than a month away, I have to get to work.

As for inside our apartment, there’s little we can pack until the final week because we use most of it, or Tilly does. But we are making lists of the order in which we will do things, and we have our boxes, bubble wrap, and packing tape ready to go.

We are excited about the move and having more space and a backyard. That said, we have made another list: Things to do in our Old Ottawa East neighbourhood before the move and the people to visit who we’ll miss.

And almost daily now, I look around the area where Craig and I have lived since 2014, the place that has been Tilly’s home since she was born almost three years ago, and I feel sad about leaving.


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Resources and advice on home buying and ownership