What Homeowner Documents Should I Keep?
January 13, 2006 6:12 AM   Subscribe

I've owned my home for about 4 years now, and one of my New Year's resolutions is to get rid of a lot of clutter and extra paperwork sitting in my overstuffed filing cabinet.

I've got at least 4" worth of forms, TIL statements, estimates, faxes between myself and the realtor, myself and the title company, myself and the lender, etc.
I get the feeling I can destroy a lot of this.
My question is: What documents do I need to keep with regards to purchasing the house? I'm thinking the following:
- home inspection
- plan/drawing of plot from engineers
- original appraisal and photos

Please add to this list!
posted by willmize to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I believe you need to keep tax records for 7 years (IANAL .... and I keep stuff like that forever), so if you deducted any of the closing costs, keep all of the financial records (loan papers, etc.).
posted by baltimore at 6:41 AM on January 13, 2006

Keep anything documenting improvements or substantial changes made either by you or the previous owner. They could come in handy during resale.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:13 AM on January 13, 2006

I've had 3 homes now. I recommend keeping a large envelope with "Home information" such as window and door warranties, heating and plumbing information to make fixing or replacing things easier. Also keep a large folder for warranties -- just throw them all into one large envelope-- someday you'll be glad you kept one. Also a large envelope for things like product manuals for weed eaters, lawnmower and other higher priced items. Again, you'll eventually need this information for repair or other. All envelopes together take up nominal room and are easy to upkeep -- just throw out old manuals as you replace things for your house etc...
posted by orlin at 7:48 AM on January 13, 2006

You can toss the home inspection report. You bought it despite what it said, so that's done. Records of your negotiation process? Toss, again, it's done.

I do what orlin said, though I'm a little more anal than a large envelope. Manila folders with tabs in hanging file folders filed alphabetically, for things like my homeowner's policy, current mortgage info, etc. One for each big ticket item like HVAC. One for lawn and garden stuff.
posted by fixedgear at 11:25 AM on January 13, 2006

Without wishing to encourage over-packratism, I'd suggest hanging onto the home inspection report. Voice of experience here - it comes in handy when you're planning to sell. I have referenced mine twice this week in reference to selling agent enquiries. You have a document prepared by a professional that tells you in some detail the condition of your house when you bought it. Why get rid of it? Hang onto the report until you've sold the house and are sure you don't have any liabilities or warranties to answer for.
posted by sagwalla at 12:08 PM on January 13, 2006

sagawalla: not sure how it works in the UK, but here in the states any prospective buyer will get their own home inspection done. In fact mine says something to the effect that it was prepared for me in my purchase of my home and that it can't be used again. Also, again, not sure about any difference in the way real estate laws work in the UK vs. the USA but here homes are basically sold 'as is.' That's what the inspection report is all about, to give the buyer some leverage to get the seller to make repairs or lower their asking price. It's a one-time use document. Sorry for the derail.
posted by fixedgear at 12:47 PM on January 13, 2006

Dude, it's your home, possibly your most valuable asset. You just don't know when one of those pieces of paper will turn out to be worth a couple hundred dollars, if not a couple thousand, of real value to you.

If drawer clutter must be tackled, throw out other stuff first. If you still need to reduce that 4" stack, just take the whole pile down to someplace like Kinkos and have it all scanned. Then decide divide the pile into "must have originals" and "a copy will suffice". Put the scans somewhere safe, then toss the latter pile.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 5:04 PM on January 13, 2006

Put all your home stuff in a cardboard or plastic carton and store it in the garage or attic or basement. (Beware of flooding potential, though.)
posted by blogrrrl at 5:33 PM on January 13, 2006

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