One of the more odd difficulties when buying your new home is knowing when to transfer utilities into your name when buying a home.  Since we are a real estate brokerage in St. Louis, MO, I’m going to go with the correct process here.  Things may be different in your state or area based on tradition, so make sure you ask your real estate agent for details.  If they don’t know anything about utility transfers, congratulations for making it this far in the deal!

The best time to transfer utilities into your name when buying a home will be about a week before closing.  By that time, the seller likely will have notified the utilities that they are moving and have requested a final bill.  This should make the process much easier.

How Do I Transfer Utilities Into My Name?

It isn’t difficult to transfer utilities into your name provided that service has not been stopped.  Take a look at the real estate disclosure and check on the names of the utility companies the seller has used.  When you have the names, a simple search online should get you where you need to go.  You are going to have the easiest time when you are transferring your service from one location to another.  If you have to set up completely new accounts, it may take a while longer.

Can I Set Up Utilities Before Closing?

Of course!  And you should!  While you have many responsibilities before closing and you might be really busy, you don’t want to forget to change the utilities over to your name.  You don’t want to start the process of transferring the utilities before you have made it through your inspection notice.  Why?  Well, what happens if you and the seller don’t agree and the house goes back to market?  Now you have to take the utilities out of your name and transfer them again.  It’s best to wait until you have a high degree of confidence that you will be in that home.

When To Stop Utilities When Selling A House

In Missouri, the seller is responsible for the utilities all the way through the day of closing.  As an example, if your closing is set for October 10th, you are going to want the utilities transferred to the buyer as of the 11th.  If the buyer has a great real estate agent, they are going to call and transfer the service to the 11th of October and there will be no interruption in service.

The Worst Case Scenario With Transferring Utilities

For some reason, home sellers and home buyers really mess up the transfer of utilities.  Sometimes, the seller has them turned off weeks in advance of the close.  That is the worst thing imaginable, especially if it’s really hot or really cold outside.  Just think of letting a house sit with no gas heating during December.  It would only take a couple of hours before the water pipes burst.  Now the perfectly good home is filled with water!  This is not something you want to deal with as a buyer.  It’s also not something you want to do as a seller, no matter how rough the negotiations went.

Buying A House When Utilities Are Turned Off

If you are in the unfortunate situation where the seller has turned off the utilities before you’ve been able to transfer them, it’s going to be an issue.  For one, many of the utility companies are going to have to physically come to the home to turn them back on. That means wait times that can last days.  Worse, if the seller has removed something as simple as a refrigerator with an ice maker, that line could still be open.  When you get the water turned on, you might find quite a mess in the kitchen.  Not a great situation.

What Utilities Should I Transfer When Buying A New Home

Depending on where you live, there will be differences in what utilities go with the house and those that you have to change.  In the county of St. Louis, Missouri, you are going to want to transfer the electricity, natural gas, and water.  If you live in the city of St. Louis, then your water and trash need to be changed with the city, as they oversee those.  There was a time when one would get their land line changed, and cable television was an issue.  That’s not usually an issue anymore.

I hope we’ve been able to help with the question of when to transfer utilities into your name when buying a home.  While these things may seem like small issues when on the journey to buying a home, one error in transferring utilities can end up causing a much larger issue.