Except for tax paperwork, there’s no official guideline governing exactly how  long you have to keep most home-related documents. Lucky for you, we considered  the situations in which you might need documents and came up with a handy “How  Long to Keep It” home records checklist.
First, a little background on  IRS rules, which informed some of our charts:

  • The IRS says you should keep tax returns and the paperwork supporting them  for at least three years after you file the return — the amount of time the IRS  has to audit you. So that’s how long we advise in our charts.
  • Check with your state about state income tax, though. Some make you keep tax  records a really long time: In Ohio, it’s 10 years.
  • The IRS can also ask for records up to six years after a filing if they  suspect someone failed to report 25% or more of his gross income. And the agency  never closes the door on an audit if it suspects fraud. Just sayin’.
HOME SALE RECORDS
Document How Long to Keep It
Home sale closing documents, including HUD-1 settlement sheet As long as you own the property + 3  years                         
Deed to the house As long as you own the property
Builder’s warranty or service contract for new home Until the warranty period ends
Community/condo  association covenants, codes, restrictions (CC&Rs) As long as you own the property
Receipts for capital  improvements As long as you own the property + 3 years
Section 1031 (like-kind exchange) sale records for both your old and new  properties, including HUD-1 settlement sheet As long as you own the property + 3 years
Mortgage payoff statements (certificate of satisfaction or lien  release) Forever, just in case a lender says, “Hey, you still owe  money.”

Why you need these docs: You use home sale closing  documents, receipts for capital improvements, and like-kind exchange records to  calculate and document your profit (gain) when you sell your home. Your deed and  mortgage payoff statements prove you own your home and have paid off your  mortgage, respectively. Your builder’s warranty or contract is important if you  file a claim. And sooner or later you’ll need to check the CC&R rules in  your condo or community association.

ANNUAL TAX DEDUCTIONS
Document How Long to Keep It
Property tax payment (tax bill + canceled check or bank statement showing  check was cashed) 3 years after the due date of the return showing the deduction
Year-end mortgage statements 3 years after the due date of the return showing the deduction
PMI payment (monthly bills + canceled check or bank statements showing check was  cashed) 3 years after the due date of the return showing the deduction
Residential energy tax credit* receipts 3 years after the due date of the return on which the credit is claimed  (including carryforwards**)

Why you need these docs: To document you’re eligible for a  deduction or tax credit.

*Energy tax credits for alternative energy sources; credit expires at the end  of 2016.

**Tax credits that you carry forward from one year to a future year, such as  when you don’t have enough tax liability to offset the entire amount of the  credit. (You can’t deduct more than you earn.) Only certain tax credits can be  carried forward. Check with your tax pro about your particular  circumstances.

INSURANCE AND WARRANTIES
Document How Long to Keep It
Home repair receipts Until warranty expires
Inventory of  household possessions Forever (Remember to make updates.)
Homeowners  insurance policies Until you receive the next year’s policy
Service contracts and  warranties As long as you have the item being warrantied

Why you need these docs: To file a claim or see what your  policy or warranty covers.

INVESTMENT (LANDLORD) REAL ESTATE  DEDUCTIONS
Document How Long to Keep It
Appraisal or valuation used to calculate depreciation As long as you own the property + 3 years
Receipts for capital expenses, such as an addition or improvements As long as you own the property + 3 years
Receipts for repairs and other expenses 3 years after the due date of the return showing the deduction
Landlord’s insurance payment receipt (canceled check or bank statement  showing check was cashed) 3 years after the due date showing the deduction
Landlord’s  insurance policy Until you receive the next year’s policy
Partnership or LLC agreements for real estate investments As long as the partnership or LLC exists + 7 years
Landlord insurance receipts (canceled check or bank statement showing check  was cashed) 3 years after you deduct the expense

Why you need these docs: For the most part, to prove your  eligibility to deduct the expense. You’ll also need receipts for capital  expenditures to calculate your gain or loss when you sell the property.  Landlord’s insurance and partnership agreements are important  references.

MISCELLANEOUS RECORDS
Document How Long to Keep It
Wills and property trusts Until updated
Date-of-death home value record for inherited home, and any rules for heirs’  use of home As long as you own the home + 3 years
Original owners’ purchase documents (sales contract, deed) for home given to  you as a gift As long as you own the home + 3 year
Divorce decree with home sale clause As long as you or spouse owns the home + 3 years
Employment records for live-in help (W-2s, W-4s, pay and benefits  statements) 4 years after you make (or owe) payroll tax  payments

Why you need these docs: Most are needed to calculate  capital gains when you sell. Employment records help prove deductions. 
Organizing Your Home Records
Because paper, such  as receipts, fades with time and takes up space, consider scanning and storing  your documents on a flash drive, an external hard drive, or a cloud-based remote  server. Even better, save your documents to at least two of these places.  
Digital copies are OK with the IRS as long as they’re identical to the  originals and contain all the accurate information that was in the original  receipts. You must be able to produce a hard copy if the IRS asks for  one.
Tip: Tax season and year’s end are good times to  purge files and toss what you no longer need; that’s often when the spirit of  organization moves us.   
When you do finally toss out  your home-related paperwork, use a shredder. Throwing away intact documents with  personal financial information puts you at risk for identity  theft.
This article provides general information about tax laws and  consequences, but isn’t intended to be relied upon as tax or legal advice  applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax  professional for such advice.