Buying a home always requires assembling a range of documents, from pay stubs to tax returns, and then signing even more as you process the mortgage and purchase. But once you’ve completed your transaction and have moved in and settled, do you know what you need to save—and how long do you need to save it? Read on for tips.
Keep … for one year
- Utility bills: At the end of the calendar year and once you’ve matched actual expenses to those that appear on your bank or credit card statements, you can toss utility bills.
Keep … indefinitely
- Home improvement purchases and receipts: You may not intend on selling your home anytime soon, but keep proof of purchases and upgrades you make, like adding new appliances or fresh drywall. They’re helpful to demonstrate appreciated value to future buyers.
- Insurance policies: Store these vital documents in a safe spot so you can access account numbers and coverage limits, as well as agent contacts, at any time.
- Mortgage documents: Keep any mortgage paperwork you get when purchasing your home. Even if you pay off your mortgage, you'll receive a release or certificate of satisfaction; keep that, too.
Keep … until you sell your home
- Closing documents: Retain a copy of any document signed during your home’s closing as a backup. This may include the purchase agreement, addendums, disclosures and repair requests, escrow information, inspection reports, and a closing statement. Some experts advise keeping this collection of forms for several years after you eventually sell the home, too.
- Abstract, title, appraisals, and deed: Retain your own record, which outlines things such as legal boundaries and the history of your home.
Keep … until it expires
- Home warranties: Again, store in a protected location that you’ll remember so you have access to coverage and limitations.
Other important considerations
- Where to keep important documents: Stash them in a fire-safe box in your home or in a safety deposit box.
- What to do with documents that are OK to toss: Shred them; home office shredders are inexpensive and widely available.