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  • How to Transport a Dog in a Car: 8 Must-Follow Tips

    Moving by car with your four-legged friend? Following best practices for how to transport a dog in a car is important for reducing both safety risks and stress. A move can be a tricky situation when there’s a canine companion to consider, since you need to make sure to balance their needs with all of the other tasks on your to do list. But your dog should always be a top priority during your move, especially once you hit the road.

    Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, follow the tips below on how to transport a dog in a car to keep everyone (including yourself) more relaxed in transit.

     

    1. Figure Out Where Your Dog Will Sit Ahead of Time

      Your dog won’t be getting in the car until everything is already packed in there, so it’s important to plan ahead and leave them enough room. This is true whether they’re traveling in a crate or in a car restraint. If they’re going to be uncrated, leave them enough room to sit and lay down comfortably, and also don’t leave any objects around them that can pose a safety risk—such as anything sharp or anything they could choke on. If you’re going to be traveling a long distance, make their spot extra cozy by putting their favorite blanket and toy down where they’ll be sitting.

      Note that your dog should not be sitting in the front seat, since a deployed air bag could cause them serious—and even fatal—harm. Opt for the backseat of the car or the boot.

    2. Choose Your Restraint Option

      No pet parent ever plans to get in an accident when their dog is in the car, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. To protect your beloved furry friend and yourself, you need to figure out a restraint option. There are a few to consider:

        • Harness seat belts
        • Zipline harnesses
        • Carry boxes with harness attachments

      All of the options above either serve as harnesses themselves or attach to your dog’s existing harness to keep them safer in the event of impact. Other options include:

        • Crates
        • Back seat hammocks
        • Back seat barriers
        • Dog guards (if your dog will be in the boot of your car)

      While the options above are all better alternatives to having no restraint at all, a harness will keep your pup as secure as possible. Keep in mind that if you live in New Jersey, car restraints are required under the state’s animal cruelty laws. And in Hawaii, you can face a fine for driving with your dog in your lap or letting them stick their head out the window while the car is in motion.

    3. Don’t Feed Right Before You Go

      Keeping your dog on a routine is advised during a move to help mitigate stress, but part of how to transport a dog in a car is adjusting that routine as needed for their own well-being. That is particularly true when it comes to food.

      Eating right before a long trip in the car can result in an upset tummy for your pup, and possibly, a mess for you. So even if it means eating earlier than usual, feed your dog his or her pre-travel meal at least three hours before you get going.

    4. Plan For Stress

      Try as you might, it’s pretty hard—and maybe even impossible—to completely remove all of your dog’s stress during transport. The next best thing you can do then is to be prepared for it. If your dog is prone to stress (and especially car-related stress), talk to your vet at least a month before your move date and make a plan. They may be able to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication that can keep your dog as calm and placated as possible during transport.

      Other tips for limiting stress on your dog in the car, as well as all stages of your move, include:

        • Remaining as calm as you can yourself, even if you’re not feeling it. Dogs are very in-tune with their humans’ body language and can easily pick up on your own stress.
        • Providing them with familiar objects during transport, such as setting up their area with their go-to blanket and toy.
        • Trying out non-prescription anxiety aids for dogs like CBD treats. To be safe though, test how your dog responds to these before moving day so that you know what to expect.
    5. Make Time For Breaks

      Balancing your own preferences with your dog’s needs is part and parcel of how to transport a dog in a car. So while you might just want to drive straight to your next location, you’re going to need to arrange for periodic stops so your dog can go potty and get out some energy.

      Aim to find a rest stop every two or three hours and leash your dog up to explore for at least 15 to 20 minutes. It may set you back a little bit on your arrival time, but your furry friend will be very grateful for it. Plus, it will give you an opportunity to check in and ensure that your dog is feeling okay.

    6. Limit Treats During Your Journey

      We know, we know—treats are the key to a dog’s heart. But when you’re in transit, stick to verbal praise unless you’re on one of your designated breaks. Dogs can choke on treats when they eat them in a moving car, including both small bites and chew bones, and too many treats is another path that can lead to that aforementioned upset tummy. On top of that, it’s dangerous to distract yourself by digging around in a treat bag and then reaching back to hand it to your dog. So resist the urge to give treats while you’re actively driving, and take solace in the fact that you can more than make up for it once you arrive at your new home.

    7. Keep the Interior Comfortable

      Pay attention to the temperature in the car so that you can be sure your dog is as comfy as possible. That means keeping the AC going in the summer, and keeping it warm (but not too warm) in the winter. It’s okay to open the windows for some fresh air, but they should never be down all the way—or even far enough down for your dog to fit her whole head out there. You should avoid ever leaving a dog alone in a car, but if you have to run into a gas station or convenience store on your drive, leave the windows up and the car on, and hurry so you’re gone for the least amount of time possible.

    8. Pack an Essentials Bag

      You probably already know that you should pack an essentials bag for yourself, but don’t forget to pack one for your dog too. This bag should contain all of the items your dog might need during the trip and on the first day and night in your new home. By keeping these items in one easy to spot bag, you make your life a lot easier and help keep things from getting misplaced.

      Here’s what to include:

        • Harness and leash (if not on and/or by your dog already)
        • Travel food and water dish
        • Enough food for the trip and first 24 hours in your new home, plus a little extra just in case
        • A bottle of water in case your dog gets thirsty when you’re not near a store or drinking fountain
        • Any medications that your pet takes
        • Any medical records that your vet provided you with
        • Extra waste bags
        • Important tags that aren’t on your dog’s harness already
        • A couple toys
        • Treats
        • Package of disinfecting wipes

      Keep this bag in an easy-to-access area, such as on the passenger seat or front and center in your trunk.

    9. The key to how to transport a dog in a car is planning ahead. There’s no such thing as winging it when it comes to making a long move with your canine friend, since you need to accommodate their needs as much as possible during the trip. If the drive is going to take multiple days, arrange for a stay at a dog-friendly hotel along the way (or multiple hotels, if your trip will take more than two days) instead of just hoping you’ll come across one. The more details you can anticipate and cover in advance, the easier of a time you’ll have on the road.

      Looking for more advice on moving with dogs? Check out our articles on helping your pup adjust to a new home and transferring your pet to a new veterinarian.

  • 15 Great Gifts for Neighbors Who Are Moving Away

    Buying going away gifts for neighbors can be tricky, since you don’t always necessarily know exactly what they would like. If you’re struggling to come up with the perfect gift for neighbors who are moving away though, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve taken the guesswork out of selecting the ideal going away present with 15 ideas that are sure to put a smile on your neighbors’ faces—and that they can actually get some use out of.

    First, a few tips for buying gifts for neighbors when they’re moving away:

     Make it personal, but not too personal. How personal you get with your gift depends on how well you know your neighbors, but as a general rule, going away gifts don’t have to be super personal the way a birthday or holiday gift might be. It’s definitely okay to go with something more general, provided you put some thought into whether they’ll like it or not.


    Skip the flowers.
     In most cases, flowers and plants are a great choice for gifts. When it comes to neighbors moving away though, they’re not ideal. Both plants and flowers are difficult to move, and you’ll just end up adding on more responsibility to an already burgeoning to do list.

    Don’t spend a ton.
     Just because a gift is more expensive doesn’t mean that it’s better. Giving your neighbors a super pricey gift might be awkward for them, and it’s also really just not necessary. We recommend sticking in the range of $50 and under.

    Now that we’ve covered the basics, here are 15 going away gifts for neighbors that we’re sure will be much appreciated.

    1. A home improvement store gift card

      When it comes to gifting, gift cards get a bad rap, but they actually make great gifts for neighbors who are moving away (and great going away gifts in general). And since moving into a new home almost always necessitates making endless trips to the home improvement store, a gift card to Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards, or another similar retailer will definitely be put to use.

    2. Local delicacy

      If your neighbors are moving out of the area, then gift them with something they might miss when they’re in their new home, such as a bottle of wine from a local winery or a box of fresh baked cookies from your town’s go-to bakery.

    3. Meal delivery box

      Moving doesn’t have to mean eating pizza for dinner every night while you get settled in (though it usually does). Give your neighbors the gift of better meals with a meal delivery box, most of which provide everything they’ll need to cook healthy and hearty dinners for a week without ever having to run to the store.

    4. Starter seeds

      Do your neighbors have an impressive green thumb? While it’s a shame they won’t be able to take most of that hard work in the garden with them when they leave, you can help them start from scratch at their now home with starter seeds for some of the items they were growing before—such as flowers, vegetables, or herbs.

    5. A gift that gives back

      Sometimes the best going away gifts for neighbors are those that speak to the heart. If you know they’re passionate about a specific type of charity and/or a specific charitable organization, make a donation in their honor and let them know about it in a thoughtful goodbye card.

    6. Spa day in a box

      We could all use some help relaxing during the stress of a move. Create a “spa day in a box” for your neighbors with stress-relieving goodies like a lavender candle, some lemon balm or chamomile tea, and a bottle of peppermint soap and/or hand lotion.

    7. Mini Bluetooth speaker

      Today’s mini Bluetooth speakers offer great sound quality for a low price, and are awesome for quickly getting set up with some unpacking tunes. If you want to go the extra mile, create your neighbors a personalized “moving playlist” on Spotify or another streaming platform.

    8. Sage cleansing kit

      If your neighbors are tapped into their spiritual side, then gift them with a sage cleansing kit that they can use to rebalance the energy in their new home. Also called smudge kits, these usually come up with sage, crystals, and herbs that will help cleanse your neighbors’ new space and welcome in positive vibes.

    9. Homesick scented candle

      Think a candle can’t be an inspired going away gift? Think again. Homesick scented candles are hand crafted candles designed to smell like certain cities and states—such as the Boston candle which brings to mind the scent of spiced tea, or the Illinois candle with hints of honeysuckle and grain. If your neighbors are moving to a new city or state, they’ll love having this comforting reminder of home.

    10. A cheeky mug

      Say what you really mean, with a mug printed with “Good Luck Finding Better Neighbors Than Us.” We’re sure your neighbors will get a good laugh, plus they’ll also having a nice mug for morning coffee at their new house. Get it on Etsy.

    11. A gift for their pet

      Moving with a dog, cat, or other pet can be hard on everyone—and especially pets themselves. Treat their furry (or feathery or scaly) friend with a going away gift that their humans will appreciate too, like a new toy or some special treats. It will be a great distraction later on when their people are getting everything set up.

    12. Custom house décor

      Etsy is full of talented artists drawing, painting, cross-stitching or otherwise creating stunning custom pictures of houses. Give your neighbors something unique to remember their home by with a print, ornament, pillow, or other piece of décor featuring their beloved residence.

    13. Cozy throw blanket

      Everyone could always use another cozy blanket, which is why throws make excellent gifts for neighbors who are moving away. Fleece, cotton, or chenille are all nice options—just be sure to pick a color and style that is in line with the rest of their belongings.

    14. Custom map cutting board

      Share your local pride with this custom map cutting board from Uncommon Goods. This cool cutting board features the three square miles around the address that you input, with a star on the address itself. It also includes interesting details like nearby parks and lakes. If you want to spend a little bit more you can add in a display stand, but we think that the cutting board itself is a winner all on its own.

    15. Packing supplies

      Put together a packing toolkit before your neighbors get ready to move and save them some time and money at the store. Include a couple rolls of packing tape, some permanent markers, a roll of packing paper and air filled plastic wrap, and maybe even a few boxes. It won’t cover everything that they’ll need, but it’s a thoughtful way to help get them started.

    We know that your neighbors will be happy with any of the above gifts, but remember that sometimes the best going away gift is just a heartfelt goodbye and the sharing of a memory or two. Regardless, no matter what you do your neighbors are sure to appreciate you putting in the thought to wish them well on their journey to their new home.

  • How Much You Should Save For Home Repairs

    There are a lot of great things about owning a home, but having to finance expensive home repairs isn’t one of them. It’s pretty much a guarantee that you’ll face some sort of home maintenance and/or repair project while owning a home, and costs can vary widely, with some projects running up in the thousands of dollars. For that reason, it’s important to figure out how much you should save for home repairs ahead of time so that you don’t find yourself scrambling to come up with the money to pay for a leaking roof or busted furnace. The better you can budget, the less stress you’ll have when you do face those inevitable repair needs.

     There are a few different schools of thought when it comes to how much you should save for home repairs. Which method works best for you depends on your current financial situation, your saving style, and certain factors regarding your home. If you own an older house (think 20 years or older), or if your house is located somewhere that’s prone to weather extremes like harsh winters or flooding, then you’re going to want to budget more for repairs.

    It’s estimated that three in 10 home owners aren’t sufficiently prepared for repair costs. With all this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most common approaches to how much you should save for home repairs so that you can reduce your chances of being one of them.

    The Percent Rule

    Depending on who you ask, you’ll see experts recommending that you save between 1% of 4% of your home’s purchase price annually for home repairs. As an example, if you bought your home for $250,000, that’s $2,500 to $10,000 a year that should be going into a dedicated savings account.

    The logic behind this rule has less to do with the fact that home repairs tend to actually cost a set percent of your home’s value and more to do with just making repair savings a rote part of your financial planning. By designating how much you should save for home repairs as a set percentage, you should have an easier time visualizing what to set aside each year. And while you probably won’t come up against $2,500 or $10,000 in repair costs each year, you might find yourself facing a one-time $15,000 repair bill that you’ll be glad you saved in advance for.

    So why might you want to save closer to 4% than 1%? It depends largely on the market conditions under which you purchased your home, as well as the home-specific factors we went over before. In terms of market conditions, if you purchased your home in a strong buyer’s market and know that you underpaid for it, you’re going to be better off putting aside an amount each year that’s closer to what the home’s actual value is, as opposed to what you paid for it.

    The Square Footage Rule

    Another way to tackle the issue of how much you should save for home repairs is to go by the square footage rule, which dictates that each year you set aside $1 per square foot of your home. If your home is 1,400 square feet then, that’s $1,400 a year into a home repair savings account.

    Again, you’re going to need to consider the age and location of your home as well when determining your approach. While the square footage rule is definitely a good rule of thumb to follow (and maybe even a bit more so than the 1% to 4% rule, since your home’s square footage is most likely a greater indicator of its repair cost needs than its purchase price), it still fails to account for those specific factors that play a major role in repair expenses.

    Additional Tips for Saving for Home Repairs

    Whether you opt for the percentage rule, the square footage rule, or a combination of the two, follow the tips below to fine tune your saving efforts and maximize your contribution.

    Don’t just consider other factors—save for them. It’s not enough to just know that you should be saving a bit more if certain factors apply to your home—you need to actively account for them. Add 5% to 10% on to your savings goal for each of the following factors that applies to your home:

      • 20 years or older
      • Poorly maintained by previous owner(s)
      • Located in area with weather extremes (think super cold winters, proneness to natural disaster, etc.)
      • Located in area with high average repair material and labor costs

    Each of these factors plays a big role in how high your repair costs can be, so it’s definitely smart to make them a savings priority.

    Keep the money in a cash-ready savings account. Saving anywhere is better than saving nowhere, but the best way to go is to keep your home repair savings in a separate, interest-bearing account that you can pull cash out of as needed and without penalty. If you’re organized, you can keep the money in your standard savings account, but if you want to keep a closer eye on your repair budgeting, then you may want to create a savings account just for these funds.

    Practice prevention. Taking good care of your home reduces your risk of facing lofty repair bills, so stay on top of regular home maintenance. This includes thing like cleaning and replacing your furnace and air conditioning filters on a regular schedule, winterizing your home before cold weather hits, and inspecting things like gutters, downspouts, and roof tiles right away after a storm. In addition to preventing repairs in the first place, this also helps ensure that if something does happen, you catch it in an early (and less expensive) stage.

    Save money in other ways. Help build up your home repair savings account by making a conscious effort to save money on other home ownership related expenses. Everything from optimizing your home’s energy usage to setting and sticking to a grocery budget means more money in your pocket—and thus more money you can set aside for the occasional big expense. .

    Get comfortable with a bit of DIY. A lot of the expense of home repairs is related to labor costs. Bringing a professional to your home can cost hundreds of dollars, even for a small job. If you can, try to take on some repair tasks yourself. With DIY blog posts, YouTube videos, and a bit of assistance at your local home improvement store (plus a little bit of time and patience) you can probably do more than you think.

    Figuring out how much you should save for home repairs is part and parcel of being a home owner. And while there’s unfortunately no standard way of doing so, you’re already a step ahead just by considering this effort as a necessity. In the past year, 88% of home owners had to finance a major home repair or improvement project, with an average spend of $4,958. And more than half of home owners had to manage multiple projects. Since there’s pretty much no escaping the fact that you’ll face a major home repair at some point, and probably at multiple points, the sooner you can make home repair savings a standard part of your annual budgeting the better.

    Keep in mind that there are ways to finance home repairs if you don’t have enough funds on hand when a big bill does roll around. Learn all about them here.

  • How to Design a Kitchen

    A kitchen sets the tone for an entire house. It’s no wonder then that homeowners tend to have so much difficultly figuring out how to design a kitchen that meets their aesthetics and their budget. With so much riding on doing it right (and the inherent expense and complexity of designing a kitchen in the first place), it’s understandable to get a bit overwhelmed just thinking about tackling the project, let alone actually doing it.

    As with most things, however, e best way to figure out how to design a kitchen is to break it into digestible steps. Whether you’re doing it on your own or with the help of a professional designer, read on for the steps you’ll need to take in order to design a kitchen that you can be proud of.

    1. Set Your Budget

      Before you can get to the fun parts of how to design a kitchen, you need to know exactly what you’re working with in terms of budget. All of your plans for your new kitchen are going to naturally be constrained by how much money you can put into it, so instead of being overly ambitious in your plans and having to adjust later on, start with budget planning and work your way out from there.

      The average cost for a complete kitchen remodel is around $13,000 to $35,000, according to HomeAdvisor. You can spend less than that if you DIY some parts of the project and/or work with materials you already have on end—for example, if you paint your existing cabinets instead of purchasing and installing new ones. Knowing your budget will help you set your priorities during the design process, and will also force you to figure out early on where you’re going to save and where you’re going to splurge.

    2. Create a Vision Board

      Sometimes the hardest part of designing a kitchen is putting together a vision of what you want it to look like. So do what the pros do and start the design process by putting together a vision board. Look anywhere you might find some design inspiration—blogs, magazines, and sites like Instagram and Pinterest are all great places to begin. Then save anything that catches your eye for your own kitchen project, including color schemes, fixtures, counter tops, and more. Paste all your saved inspiration into one place and voila, you’ve got a vision board.

      The benefit of a vision board is you can always return to it when you need some guidance. There is so much that goes into figuring out how to design a kitchen, and it’s easy to lose track of the big picture as you go. With a vision board, you’ll always be able to set your sights on exactly what you’re trying to achieve.

    3. Set Your Priorities

      Figuring out how to design a kitchen is as much about determining the utility of the space as it is determining how you want it to look. Do you need to find space for a double oven? An eight burner stove? An island? Do you want your kitchen to be a place that people congregate in to eat or just a place for cooking? Whatever you need out of your kitchen will play a huge role in its design, so set your sights on what’s really, really important to you, and work your way out from there.

    4. Make a Floor Plan

      A floor plan provides you with a bird’s eye view of your kitchen space. More so than just looking at your kitchen itself, it breaks the space down into its component parts—dimensions and all—so that when you’re determining things like cabinet configurations and appliance sizes you know what will fit and where. To simplify the process, use online kitchen planning software like Room Sketcher or SmartDraw, which in addition to ensuring your plan is appropriately scaled and sized will also walk you through the various steps to creating a comprehensive plan.

    5. Figure Out Your Electrical, Gas, and Water Configurations

      Unless you plan to go behind the walls and reconfigure the pipes and wires behind your kitchen, you’re going to be somewhat limited in what you can do by the current configuration. To wit, there’s probably only one place that your sink can go without moving some pipes around, and the same goes for things like fridges. Likewise, you need to keep key details like light switches in mind when choosing what goes where.

      If you’re working with a professional contractor, you’ll have more leeway in terms of what you can change here—though of course there will be added cost. If you have your heart set on reconfiguring the layout in such a way that you’ll have to make some adjustments behind the walls too, be sure to reach out to a pro right away—be it a plumber, electrician, or so on—so that you know what your options are and how much they’ll set you back.

    6. Choose a Cabinet Manufacturer

      Kitchens are the focal point of a home, and cabinets are the focal point of a kitchen. For that reason, it makes sense to start with your cabinets early on. And because manufacturers vary in the price, style, and sizing of their inventory, it can help you narrow down your options to settle on a specific manufacturer first and then limit yourself to what they offer.

      (Alternately, you could skip this step if you’re going to go the DIY route and refinish your existing cabinets. The benefit of doing this is that you save a ton of money in material and labor costs, and you also don’t have to worry about correctly sizing your cabinets since you already know they fit in the space.)

    7. Choose Your Counter Tops

      Kitchen counter tops vary in more than just appearance. Marble, for example, is trendy and looks great, but it’s also porous and can easily take on stains (quartz is sturdier and a better way to go if this is the look you want). Choose a style that matches your general design approach in the room and that is also durable enough to stand up to actual use.

      Unlike with cabinets, you can pick what you want in terms of counter tops and work your way out from there, instead of starting with the manufacturer. Most counter tops are cut to size based on your individual kitchen dimensions, and it’s worth doing your research to find a company that will give you exactly what you want for the best price possible.

    8. Choose Appliances and Placement

      Your appliances are the next big feature to tackle after your cabinets and counter tops. As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to go with the same manufacturer and style for all of your appliances—this will help with aesthetic continuity. If you do want to mix and match appliances from different manufacturers that’s okay too, but try to streamline your design choices so that everything will match (for example, go with all stainless steel or all black appliances).

      Put a lot of thought into the appliances that you choose, since unlike other features like counter tops or flooring these actually need to do a specific job and do it well. Make sure you accurately account for the size of the appliances that you’ll need (check out our guide to refrigerator sizes for help with one major appliance) as well as the functions.

    9. Finishing Touches

      After you’ve chosen the big items you can get to work on everything else, including fixtures, flooring, and walls and/or backsplash. It’s smart to save these details until the end, since they should complement the big ticket items in the room rather than set the stage for the whole design. They’re also the items that probably shouldn’t be the main priority in your budget.

      Do your due diligence with finishing touches when it comes to shopping around. Things like over-the-island pendant lighting can range from under $50 a fixture to hundreds of dollars a fixture, often with very similar appearances. You should be able to cut some corners on cost and still achieve the look you’re going for if you give yourself time to look at all the options.

    You don’t need to be a seasoned design professional in order to know how to design a kitchen. By following the steps above, you should be able to come up with a stunning and cohesive kitchen design that’s in budget and suited to your needs.

    For more kitchen planning advice, read our articles on how to design an IKEA kitchen and budget-friendly design ideas for your kitchen that only look expensive.

  • 5 Ways to Finance Home Repairs

    There are a lot of great things about being a homeowner, but having to finance home repairs isn’t one of them. Repair costs often pop up unexpectedly and at inopportune times, such as a broken furnace in the dead of winter or an extensive roof repair right after you’ve come back from vacation. And they’re rarely cheap. In 2018, 88% of American homeowners had to take care of at least one major repair, with an average annual spend of almost $5,000.

     A home is a big investment, and like many other big investments, you need to take steps to maintain and improve it if you want to make a return. And depending on the age and condition of your home, as well as the elements that it faces where you live, a large part of maintaining your investment is addressing home repairs. So how do you finance home repairs without completely depleting your savings? Alternately, how do you finance home repairs if you don’t have a lot of savings? Fortunately there are options to help with both cases.

    Budgeting for Home Repairs

    Even before you start looking into ways to finance home repairs you should be actively accounting for the possibility of repairs in your budget. There are a few ways that you may choose to do this, but many homeowners abide by either the 1% rule or the square footage rule. Here’s how they work.

    The 1% rule dictates that you should set aside 1% of the purchase price of your home each year for potential repair costs. So if you bought your home for $250,000, that’s $2,500 allotted in your budget year after year for maintenance and repairs. The logic behind the 1% rule isn’t so much that your repairs are going to cost you that much every year, but that it’s a good way to set a guideline and encourage yourself to save.

    Variations on this rule include saving 2-3% instead of 1%, or putting aside 10% of what you spend on your property taxes, mortgage payment, and insurance payment each month for repairs. With the latter rule, if you’re spending $2,000 a month on those combined expenses you’ll want to put an additional $200 a month into savings for repairs.

    The square footage rule is a recommendation that you budget $1 per square foot of your home for repairs. A 2,200 square foot home means $2,200 in savings for repairs a year, for example, and a 3,000 square foot home means $3,000 a year. Again, this doesn’t mean that there’s a direct correlation between the square footage of your home and what you’ll spend in repair costs each year—it’s just a good way to ensure you’re saving a decent chunk of change toward these types of expenses.

    How to Finance Home Repairs

    Even with a well-executed savings plan it’s not uncommon to need extra funds when it comes to financing home repairs. If you save $2,000 a year for example, you’ll see it go quickly if you need a roof repair (averages $351 to $1,352, depending on whether the repair is minor or major) followed by a new water heater (averages $767 to $1,447 with the new unit and labor). And there’s always the possibility of needing a notoriously expensive repair, like a foundation repair (average cost of $4,511 but can range as high as $15,000) or needing to restore and repair after incurring water damage (average cost of $2,701).

    As you might expect, many homeowners will at some point find themselves in need of having to finance home repairs. And fortunately, there are a few good options for how to do it. Here are five of them.

    1. Home Equity Line of Credit

      home equity line of credit—often shortened to HELOC—is a loan that you take out using the equity that you own in your home. Think of it almost like a credit card, with the set limit that you can borrow being the amount of equity that you have when you first take out the HELOC. Most of the time, you’ll have a 10 year draw period during which you can pull out money from this fund, followed by a 20 year payback period.

      There are a few advantages of using a home equity line of credit to finance home repairs. To start, HELOCs generally have low interest rates—or at least lower than you’ll find with other loan options. That’s because lenders consider these loans to be less risky endeavors on their part, since you’ve already shown your ability to earn and pay that amount with your mortgage.

      Another advantage is that you can take out money as you need it, instead of taking all of your equity out as a lump sum. If you have $50,000 in equity to borrow from then, you can take out money multiple times during the draw period—perhaps $5,000 for a major roof repair one year, $2,500 for a new gas furnace another year, and so on. And you’ll only pay interest on the amount that you actually pull from the available limit.

    2. Cash-Out Refinancing

      A cash-out refinancing takes your existing mortgage and turns it into a bigger mortgage, meaning you end up with a new loan that puts more money in your pocket for things like home maintenance and repairs. You can get up to 80% of the market value of your home refinanced, and then take the difference in cash.

      Opting for a cash-out refinance to finance home repairs is a popular choice, since depending on market conditions and how much you’ve already paid toward your original mortgage you could end up with a large amount of cash that you can then put toward expensive repair needs.

      Unlike a home equity line of credit, cash-out refinancing doesn’t borrow off of your existing mortgage. Instead, it creates an entirely new mortgage for your property, complete with its own rates, lending terms, and repayment schedule. This means that you may be able to get extra benefits out of a cash-out refinancing if mortgage rates have gotten more favorable since you first bought your home.

    3. FHA Title-1 Loan

      A home equity line of credit or cash-out refinancing are great if you have lots of equity in your home, but what if you incur an expensive repair cost in your first year of home ownership or at some other point where you haven’t built up a substantial amount of equity? In that situation, you may want to consider an FHA title-1 loan, which allows you to borrow money specifically for many types of home repairs and improvements.

      There are some guidelines to be aware of with an FHA title-1 loan. To start, the maximum loan amount is $25,000 for a standard, single family home, and loans above $7,500 require you to put down your home as collateral (FHA title-1 loans below $7,500 do not need to be secured by your home). The loan repayment period for a single family home is 20 years.

      FHA title-1 loans are fixed rate, so you won’t have to worry about variable interest rates over the course of your repayment period. To qualify, you’ll need to have a debt-to-income ratio of 45% or below, and you must be applying the loan to an approved repair or improvement costs. You can find more info on what those are by visiting the Department of Housing’s FHA title-1 loan information page.

    4. Credit Cards

      Using a credit card to finance home repairs can be an easy way to go, especially if you have a high enough limit on your existing credit card to simply borrow money on there. If you don’t though, you’ll likely have no problem applying for and receiving a new credit card just for home repairs.

      It’s important to note though that credit cards aren’t always the best way to go. What you gain in convenience you may end up paying in high interest rates and high monthly payments with a shorter repayment period than you’d get with other types of repair financing loans. Look into the other options above before opting for a credit card if you’re facing a major repair cost and do a comparison on interest rates and other loan terms. If you just need to cover a basic and not too expensive repair though a credit card may be a good way to go.

    5. Personal Loan

      Finally, you could consider getting a personal loan just for home repairs. These tend to have higher interest rates than options like a home equity line of credit as well as shorter repayment periods, but you’ll have a lot of freedom to use the loan as you need to, and can usually borrow as much as $40,000.

      Check with your existing bank first to see what kinds of terms they offer for personal loans, and then expand your search to other lenders. If you can find a personal loan with favorable rates and terms, then it is certainly worth considering as a way to finance home repairs.

    Final Takeaway

    Home repairs pretty much always need to get done, even if you don’t have funds on hand. Look through the available options above and find a lending option that makes the most sense for your long term financial goals and your existing financial situation, and be sure to account for repair costs in your annual budget as well.

  • How Much Does a Bathroom Renovation Increase Home Value?

    Any time a homeowner is considering a home renovation, it’s generally for either one or both of the standard reasons: they want to enjoy their space more, and they want to add on more value to their property. But not all renovations add value equally, and in fact, some add a lot less than you might think. How about a bathroom renovation then—it is going to increase the value of your home, or is it purely for aesthetics?

    A bathroom renovation is the most popular of all home improvements, according to the National Association of Realtor’s (NAR) 2019 Remodeling Impact Report. And based off of data from Remodeling magazine’s most recent Cost vs. Value report, returns on both midrange and upscale bathroom renovations are, for the most part, going up. That’s good news if you’re considering undertaking a bathroom remodel, particularly if you think that you might want to sell your home soon.

    Before you pick up the hammer though (or pick up the phone to call a handyman), here’s what you need to know about how much a bathroom renovation actually increases home value, as well as how you can maximize your profits on a bathroom remodel.

    Does a Bathroom Renovation Increase Home Value?

    It sure does! On average, homeowners spend just over $20,000 on a midrange bathroom renovation project, and nearly $65,000 on an upscale bathroom renovation project. At resale, midrange renovations recoup 67.2% of their costs, while upscale renovations recoup 60.2%.

    So what does this look like in dollars? Here’s how Remodeling breaks it down.

    Midrange bathroom renovation

    Cost: $20,420
    Resale value: $13,717

    Upscale bathroom renovation

    Cost: $64,743
    Resale value: $38,952

    Data was not provided for low-scale bathroom renovations.

    It’s always smart to be realistic when it comes to recouping the cost of any home improvements that you plan on making, especially since you are very rarely (if ever) going to get a complete 100% return. Improvements that tend to have the highest returns are those that cost less at the outset, such as upscale garage door replacements (cost: $3,611; recouped cost: 97.5%) and manufactured stone veneers (cost: $8,907; recouped cost: 94.9%).

    What About the Joy Score?

    We often think about value in terms of dollars and cents, but you can’t discount the joy score, which is the innate satisfaction or enjoyment that a homeowner gets out of having a more aesthetically pleasing, more functional space. And on a scale of one to ten, NAR reports that the joy score of a bathroom renovation is 9.6, both for the homeowners who hire a professional to do their remodel and for those who undertake the project on their own.

    What this tells us is that there is more to be gained from a bathroom renovation than just an increase in a home’s price. If you’re thinking of taking the leap, it can help to know that for most home renovators a bathroom upgrade is far from regrettable.

    5 High Value Bathroom Renovation Ideas

    Homeowners who are looking to renovate their bathroom on a budget or who only want to tackle a couple of upgrades in the space should set their sights on the types of renovations that pull in the highest returns. This allows you to allocate your funds to the areas that will pack the biggest punch, and also helps you prioritize your project tasks.

    Here are the 5 bathroom renovation projects that stretch your dollar the furthest, both on their own and in conjunction with each other.

    1. New plumbing fixtures

      Just as old fixtures can instantly date a room, new fixtures can make an entire space look more modern and inviting. This is good news for home renovators, since swapping out things like faucets and shower heads don’t have to be super expensive at the outset.

      If upgrading the plumbing fixtures is the only change that you’re intending to make to the space, be sure that you pick fixtures that complement (rather than clash with) the rest of the bathroom. Even if you go a more modern route you’ll still want to match the rest of the colors in the room and the general style.

    2. Vanity upgrades

      If you’ve got a bit more to spend, consider upgrading the entire vanity, which includes not just faucets but also cabinetry and sinks. You can buy vanity kits that have all of the elements you need for one price, or you can put together the perfect vanity yourself. Make sure to choose materials that will have more appeal with buyers. For example, marble and granite are usually top picks for counter tops, while tile and laminate can look a bit too retro.

    3. Fresh coat of paint

      Something as simple as a new coat of paint can make a big impact on the general look of a bathroom. This goes double if the room shows any sign of mildew or other types of water damage (though if this is the case, you’ll want to address the actual problem too, and not just hide it behind some primer).

      Painting is a good renovation project to DIY, particularly in the bathroom, which is usually a small space. Use painter’s tape to streamline the look, and choose a neutral color that will have more widespread appeal.

    4. Flooring

      If you’re looking for a dramatic change, then upgrading the flooring in your bathroom is a good way to go. The average cost per square foot of bathroom flooring is about $2.50 on the low end and $4.00 on the high end plus labor costs (assuming you don’t install the flooring yourself). If you really want to take the floors to the next level, you could install radiant heat mats under the tile, which warm the floors for a cozy feel post shower or bath. On average, that costs an extra $5.00 to $8.00 per square foot. New bathroom floors—even when taken further with radiant heat—are one of the less expensive renovations you can do, but can also completely change the look, feel, and utility of the space.

    5. Energy efficient updates

      Adding more energy efficiency into your home isn’t just good for the environment—it’s good for your home’s resale value, too. Your shower, sink, and toilet can all be optimized for low flow, which means less water usage and more savings on your water bill. It’s a strong pull for buyers too, so when you’re making changes to fixtures in your bathroom go for the picks that promise to use energy.

    Is a Bathroom Renovation Worth It?

    It’s up to each homeowner to decide if a bathroom renovation is worth the expense. Overall though, you can expect to get a good return on the money that you spend, plus a high joy score out of the project. If having a bathroom that you enjoy being in matters to you, then go for it. It’s just icing on the cake that you’ll get to recoup a lot of the associated costs as well.

    As for finding a professional to do the job, use our tips on how to find a handyman, plumber, or other service provider so that you can be sure to select the right person for the job. Do plenty of research before selecting someone, since going the cheap route or working with someone who isn’t completely familiar with what they’re doing will almost certainly end up costing you more in the long run.


     

  • What Does 'Active With Backup Offers' Mean?

    Like any other type of business, the real estate world is filled with lingothat might not be discernible at first blush. Terms such as "pending" or "contingent," commonly seen in online listings, may be familiar, but what about "active with backup offers"?

    According to Clara Nicolosi, a broker and owner at Re/Max of Hot Springs Village, AK, “active with backup offers” is also known as “taking backup offers.”

    It’s a scenario in which all parties allow the seller to continue advertising and entertaining additional offers, in case the first accepted offer falls through. But why would a seller keep the property active after accepting an offer?

    “In most cases, you see this situation when the buyer has a home to sell, and it has an accepted offer but has not closed,” Nicolosi says. This contingency would release the purchaser out of the contract should his previous residence not sell.

    Other reasons sellers will accept backup offers

    Understandably, many buyers don’t want to juggle two house mortgages.

     “In today's market, some buyers have a stipulation that they have to sell their house in order to buy the new one and their old house isn't under contract yet,” says Jennifer Murtland, team leader for Team Synergi Real Estate in Cincinnati.

    There are other reasons a seller may take backup offers, but they similarly relate to circumstances that indicate the best offer might not pan out.

    “'Active with a backup offer' could mean the seller accepted an offer but doesn't feel sure that the buyer is a strong candidate, so they want backups in case the first offer falls through," says Alejandro Figueroa at Keller-Williams Realty in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

    Backup offer process

    So what happens when you want to submit a backup offer? According to Rick Snow, a broker at EXIT East/West Realty in El Paso, TX, when a backup offer is submitted, it is negotiated as if it were primary, but with the understanding (in writing, on a backup addendum form) that there is already a contract in place and that the second offer would become the primary offer only if the first one fails to perform or terminates within a certain time period.

    There are a few things you need to keep in mind when submitting a backup offer. For one thing, it’s legally binding.

    “It is best for buyers to treat submitting backup offers no differently than submitting a regular offer," says Amy Sanford of Amy Sanford Real Estate, in Nantucket, MA. The only difference is that your offer is less likely to be accepted.

    Should you submit an offer?

    All of our experts agree that you should indeed submit an offer on a house whose status is active with backup offers.

    “In the event that the primary offer does not go through, the second offer will go to contract without the house going back on the market,” saysJamie Safier, a licensed real estate salesperson at Douglas Elliman in New York.

    Whether your offer is accepted depends on a number of factors—including your local real estate market and the condition of the property—but it could happen.

    “We have had as many as five backups in position, and the fifth ended up the winner," says Michael Edlen at Coldwell Banker Residential Edlen Team in Los Angeles.

    Should your backup offer be higher than asking?

    Some people might think it's strategic to sweeten the pot by submitting a backup offer that's higher than asking price. This all depends on your budget and how much you want the house, but some experts would endorse this strategy.

    “If the winning offer ends up being $5,000 over the asking, would you be kicking yourself if you didn’t offer that price?” says Fiona Dogan, real estate agent with Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty in Rye, NY.

    Safier agrees, and says if this is a house you’re excited about, make sure you have a good offer on the table.

    “Sellers are allowed to take more than one backup offer, and if it's your dream house, submit what you’re most comfortable with. In a hot market, you want to be the first in line should the primary buyer's deal fall through.”

    However, Snow is against offering more, unless that’s what the market dictates. And, according to Nicholas Oliver, principal broker at HomeDax Real Estate in New York, submitting a high backup offer may not persuade a seller to accept it.

    “The seller may simply give the current accepted offer the opportunity to match the higher bid,” he says.

  • I Don't Have Money for Updates; Should I Offer a Discount When Selling My Home?

    When your home is on the market, it needs to stand out from the crowd. And certain features like beautifully appointed open kitchens or impeccable hardwood floors are great at drawing eyeballs for listings. But what if you can't afford to renovate—even if certain things have fallen into a state of serious disrepair?

    Some sellers may choose to offer an allowance, or discount, on their home to entice buyers. In this situation, the seller would agree to take the financial hit on repairing anything that the buyer sees as an issue. The allowance would be written into the buyer's offer, and the buyer would have to check with the lender for details that pertain to this type of clause. (Some lenders may have a problem with it.)

    Benefits of offering an allowance

    If you cannot afford to make necessary repairs to your property, offering a home improvement allowance is certainly a viable option.

     Robert Rahmanian, principal and co-founder of REAL New York, says this might be a good strategy if you're having trouble selling your house or when a buyer brings up the need for updates.

     "The allowance amount very much depends on the kind of updates that need to be conducted,” he says. The allowance may be determined based on the total price of the necessary updates.

    According to Martin Eiden, a broker at Compass in New York, the first step is to get written estimates from contractors to do the work, and then offer an allowance for the estimated amount.

     “I would present it like this: ‘We were considering updating the kitchen and baths but didn't want to choose a color the end buyer may not want, so these are the estimates, and the buyer can choose the final colors and finishes,’” he says.


  • How to Sell Your House Fast: 5 Must-Know Tips to Move Your Property

    If you need to sell your house fast, you probably don't have a whole lot of time to research the current real estate market and ponder how it'll affect your home sale. You just want sales guidance from a real estate agent (here's how to find a real estate agent in your area) or other pro that will help you find a buyer as fast as possible.

    Well, here's the good news: It is possible for you, as a seller, to offload your home quickly. The experts say selling comes down to a few key to-do's that you should take care of before your property hits the market.

    If you're ready to unload your abode, heed the selling advice of the experts below. Of course, we can't guarantee all homeowners a quick sale, but putting these tips into practice definitely won't hurt the chances of securing a buyer.

     

    1. Tidy up to make your house stand out (and sell!)

    If you're looking to sell quickly, you're going to want to start cleaning, especially before those listing photos are taken by your Realtor®.

    "Pristine houses from sellers are more attractive to a buyer, which will keep the buyer excited," says Debi Benoit, principal and broker at Benoit Mizner Simon & Co. Real Estate in Wellesley, MA. "And an excited buyer may pay top dollar to the seller and will usually write an offer quickly."

     Fast selling means getting rid of clutter both inside the house and in the yard and putting some elbow grease into making everything look like a brand-new home (yup, you might need a storage unit for maximum curb appeal).

     And selling fast means cleaning from top to bottom in every room of the house. Wipe down cabinets, light fixtures, and drawers, remove any scuffs from the walls, give all kitchen appliances a once-over, clean air vents, shampoo your carpets, and then sweep, vacuum, or mop every inch of the house.

     It will take you several days of work to declutter, but the payoff (making a sale!) will be worth it for a potential buyer. Trust us—this is a major part of selling a home quickly.

    2. Have your house staged to sell fast

    Be the best seller you can be, and go extra mile beyond cleaning. To do this, consider having your house staged, a real estate term that means decorating your place so that it is more attractive to buyers.

    "It's best to present the home in its best light when you're selling," explains Nile Lundgren, an agent with Trent & Company in New York City. He once had a real estate listing—unstaged—on the market for five months without ever getting an offer to sell.

    "We took it off the market, staged it, reshot photos, and put it back on the market," he says. "Within two weeks, we got into a bidding war and signed a contract for a sale shortly thereafter."

    Real estate staging typically takes anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the availability of rental furniture, the movers, and the installers.

    If you're facing a major time crunch to sell, Lundgren suggests focusing on staging the beds, sofas, tables, chairs, and art—items that make a house feel like a well-maintained home where people can live and get comfortable.

    3. Hire a photographer to take listing photos for a quick sale

    It may feel like hiring a professional will be a waste of money. After all, your cellphone has a great camera, right? But that can be a sale killer, says Rosamaria Acuña, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in La Jolla.

    "First impressions are everything, and need to be done right," she says. "A professional photographer has all the tools to capture the right lighting and make everything look brighter and inviting." The pros also have wide-angle lenses to fit the entire room in the photo.

    4. Selling quick means making your home available for showings

    Once everything is set up, get ready to spend a lot of time away from your home so buyers and real estate agents can view the property comfortably—without you or your pets wandering around the halls. Selling fast is best done when homeowners aren't there for an open house.

    Remember: If you want to sell your home pronto, you need to be flexible and open with your time, to allow buyers and real estate agents to tour it as often as possible.

    5. Attract a buyer with the right price

    Staging and marketing your home are important components, but at the end of the day, the amount of money you're asking buyers to pay could be what seals the deal.

    "Nothing will help sell a poorly priced home—and a well-priced home can overcome many other issues," says Aaron Hendon, a Realtor with Christine & Company in Seattle. "To sell your home fast, your house needs to be priced to compete with the others currently on the market."

    Your real estate agent will help you decide on the right listing price for your home by looking at a variety of factors: your house's age, any updates, square footage, and the school district.

    An agent will pull up comparable homes, or "comps," that have sold in the area to evaluate the best sale price.

  • 6 Energy-Saving Myths You Need to Stop Believing Right Now

    The new year is a time for making resolutions, and for many of us, saving energy inside the home is at the top of the list. And with good reason! It can help cut down on your monthly spend and reduce the number of carbon emissions in the environment. This can result in cleaner air quality and help sustain our precious natural resources.

    But did you know that some green living strategies aren't as effective as you'd think? To set the record straight, we asked experts to poke holes in some common practices people use to conserve energy—and, well, they sure did.

    Myth 1: Use portable electric space heaters instead of running your central heating

    Why heat the whole house when you're just working (or sleeping) in one room? That's the conventional thinking that fuels this myth.

     Many people erroneously believe that they can slash their heating costs by using an electric space heater. But "electric heating is the most expensive heating available,” says Chris Forbus, owner of Choice Air Care in Frisco, TX. “For example, running one small 1,500-watt space heater—just enough to heat a single room—might cost more than running a gas furnace for your entire house.” Whoa.

    Myth 2: Leave the ceiling fan on to cool your home

     “Fans cool people, not homes,” says Matthias Alleckna, an energy analyst at EnergyRates.ca. “The cool sensation brought by ceiling fans is a result of evaporation of moisture on the skin.”

    He says it’s like feeling cold when you get out of the shower. “In reality, all ceiling fans do is circulate and redistribute the air in the room,” he explains.

     The cool air is being forced down on you, and Alleckna says this is what causes you to feel cool. But the actual temperature of the home doesn’t change.

    In fact, Ty Benefiel, CEO of renewable energy provider Hero Power, says running a fan can actually make a room slightly warmer, since it’s the air blowing across your skin to leverage the sweat that makes you feel cooler—not the fan.

    “If you're not under the fan as it runs, you are not getting any of the benefits,” he says.

    Myth 3: Turn off the lights and appliances each time you leave a room

    “Some lights, like compact fluorescent lightbulbs, have a certain amount of energy they must burn in the beginning before they consume a relatively even amount of power,” Alleckna says. The amount of time is about 15 minutes.

    “This means if you're out of the room for less than 15 minutes, it actually takes more energy to turn on the lights twice than to have just left them on,” he adds.

    The same goes for a TV or video game console that has to be booted up if you’ve powered it down.

    “If you are not anticipating pausing the system for longer than 15 to 20 minutes, then it doesn't make sense to power them down completely.” Alleckna says.

    Myth 4: Keep the temperature consistent, even when you're out of the house

    Admittedly, no one wants to come home to a cold house in the winter or a hot house in the summer. But that doesn’t mean the system should be blasting when you’re gone all day.

    “It does take extra energy to warm up or cool down your house if you've turned the system down when you were at work for the day,” says Forbus. However, he adds, it takes a lot more energy to keep it heated or cooled for all of those hours while you’re gone.

    Myth 5: Heat your home faster by turning the thermostat higher than it needs to be

    Driving faster can help you reach your destination sooner, but your HVAC isn’t a car.

    “Your HVAC runs at a constant, so turning the thermostat higher will just end up overheating your home,” says Benefiel.

    Smart thermostats can be programmed to help you achieve maximum comfort without wasting energy.

    Myth 6: Close vents and doors to help save energy

    In theory, directing air into the rooms you use sounds like a smart energy move, but it could do more harm than good.

    “Don't close too many vents as this might cause undue pressure and create leaks, leading to more energy waste,” says Julio Daniel Hernandez, CEO at Enlight Energy. “In reality, although you can manipulate comfort in a room by opening or closing a vent, the heater or air conditioner continues to produce the same amount of air, so energy saving certainly shouldn't be the reason to close them.”

    And if you shut doors to unoccupied rooms, Benefiel says this won’t cause your unit to run more efficiently either.

    “Much like shutting vents, this tactic will only lower the temperature in a room, which in turn will cause the overall temperature in your home to drop, and cause your HVAC unit to have to run longer,” he says.

  • How Does Junk Removal Work?

    Whether you’re moving, renovating, or just looking to get rid of extra stuff in your house, junk removal companies can help you do it. These types of companies specialize in taking unwanted items off of your hands quickly and efficiently. Many of them even take it a step further and in addition to hauling away your junk also make sure that all salvageable items are donated to appropriate charities. Working with junk removal companies is a great way to clear out your space, and can also take a lot of the guesswork out of how you’re going to get rid of all those unwanted belongings ahead of your move.

     The average American generates about 4.5 pounds of waste every day, and that’s not even considering the things in your home that you’ve held on to for a while but no longer have a use for. If you think that you might be able to benefit from junk removal services, read on to learn everything you need to know about working with a junk removal company, including what types of services they offer, how much it typically costs, and what happens to all your stuff once it’s hauled away.

    What is Junk Removal?

    We always recommend getting rid of as much as you can prior to your move, and junk removal companies are a highly efficient way to do it.

    Junk removal is a service that helps you get pretty much all kinds of trash removed from your home or office space. These services are often available on demand, meaning you can call a junk removal company and they’ll come haul away your stuff on the very same day (though you can also make an appointment ahead of time if you don’t want to risk it).

    Typically, junk removal companies will provide you with two options for getting rid of your stuff:

    Truck hauling. If you choose this service, the junk removal company will arrive at your location with a large truck fitted with a dumpster in the back. They’ll haul your junk onto the truck’s dumpster and then drive it all away as soon as they’re done. This option is excellent for post-renovation clean-ups and other times when all of your trash is already piled up and ready to go.

    Dumpster rental. With dumpster rental services, a junk removal company will drop off a dumpster in your preferred size at your location. You fill it up at your leisure and then when you’re done they’ll return to pick it up and haul it away. This option is a good choice if you’re going to be clearing out your space over the span of a couple of days or if you’re undertaking a home renovation project.

    What Will Junk Removal Companies Take?

    If you need to get rid of it, chances are that a junk removal company will take it off of your hands (caveats to that are listed in the next section). This includes:

      • Large and small appliances
      • Air conditioners
      • Furniture
      • Mattresses
      • Computers, monitors, TVs, and other electronics
      • Exercise equipment
      • Bicycles
      • Tools
      • Construction debris (roofing materials, old carpeting, etc.)
      • Yard waste
      • Hot tubs and spas
      • Boxes
      • Books, toys, and other miscellaneous home items
      • Musical instruments, including large items like pianos
      • Clothing

    The less stuff that you have to move, the smoother your move will go. Go through each room, closet, and drawer and separate out the items that you no longer want or need. It will be a lot easier to get rid of things when you know that you have a junk removal company ready to come pick it all up for you.

    What Won’t Junk Removal Companies Take?

    As for what junk removal companies won’t take, it’s basically the same as what professional moving companies won’t take since these items are dangerous to transport and need to be properly disposed of. This includes:

      • Opened cans of paint
      • Chemicals and solvents
      • Gasoline
      • Asbestos
      • Oil drums and oil tanks
      • Any other kind of toxic and/or hazardous waste

    These types of corrosive, combustible, reactive, and toxic materials need to be disposed of according to the specific laws of your county. Check out our article on how to dispose of hazardous waste before you move for guidance.

    What Do Junk Removal Companies Do With the Stuff They Take Away?

    In terms of what happens with your junk, it depends on what it is and the junk removal company that you’re working with. Most junk removal companies today aim to protect the environment and give back to their communities by ensuring that any and all salvageable junk ends up with those who can benefit from it, instead of in a landfill. In these cases, things like furniture, clothing, toys, and linens that are in good condition will be brought to local shelters and relief groups who can put them to use.

    When you’re choosing a junk removal company, be sure to ask them what happens to the items that they pick up. And if you have a choice between companies, opt for the one that goes out of their way to reduce waste and donate your items—it’s a much better alternative to simply dumping your items in a trash pile, especially those items that someone else can still get a lot of use out of.

    How Much Does Junk Removal Cost?

    Just like moving companies, junk removal companies can’t offer set prices or give you a fixed estimate over the phone. That’s because the cost of junk removal services depends on a number of factors, including how much junk you have to be hauled away and the type of materials that you need removed, where you live, and how accessible the job is (i.e. will they have to go up and down a set of stairs with your junk? Will they be able to park in a convenient location?). You’ll also pay a different price depending on whether you opt for a traditional junk haul or a dumpster rental.

     Still, there are some benchmarks for junk removal pricing. According to HomeGuide, the average amount that people spend for junk removal services is between $150 and $350, though prices can range from about $70 to $750. Most junk removal companies price their services according to how much space you fill up in the truck. The more space you need, the more you can expect to spend.

    To get the most accurate price, ask if you can get an on-site quote. Seeing your inventory of junk in person will allow a junk removal service provider to get as close of an idea as possible about how much truck/dumpster space you’re going to require.

    Choosing a Junk Removal Company

    There are a lot of junk removal companies out there. To choose the one that’s best suited to your needs, we recommend choosing and comparing between at least three different providers based on availability and pricing. This way, you’ll be able to make sure that you end up working with the company that’s going to offer you the best service at the best price.

    As always, it’s a good idea to look at the reviews when hiring a junk removal company. This way, you’ll be able to learn about past customers’ experiences with the company and whether they would recommend working with them. You’ll also get some additional insight into their reliability and equipment.

    Junk removal companies offer a great option for getting rid of things before your move. If you’ve got stuff to haul away, save yourself the time and trouble and bring on junk removal experts to do the job.

     

  • How to Buy a Foreclosed Home

    Interested in purchasing a foreclosed home? Homes in foreclosure can be a great deal for renovators, since you can often get a great deal on a property that you were intending to flip anyway. But the process of how to buy a foreclosed home isn’t quite the same as the process of purchasing a traditional house. It’s important that you understand the right way to go about it early on so that you don’t waste a significant amount of time or money heading in the wrong direction.

     

    Buying a Foreclosed Home vs. Buying a Standard Home

    Long before you get to showings and offer letters there are a number of key differences that you’ll need to understand about buying a home in foreclosure versus buying a standard home for sale. We’ve covered these in more depth before, but here’s a quick breakdown:

    You won’t be able to negotiate any repairs. It’s banks, not homeowners, who are trying to offload a foreclosed property—and they’re not known for budging when it comes to negotiating home repairs. Most of the time, when you buy a foreclosed home you’re buying it “as is,” meaning all of its good parts and its bad parts. If you’re buying the home to flip, you’ll need to make sure that you have a very thorough inspection performed so that you know what you need to budget for in terms of fixes.

    But you may be able to negotiate price. Don’t assume that just because a bank isn’t flexible with incentives and contingencies that they’re not going to be flexible with price. The goal for most banks in this situation is to come out in the black on the property, and not necessarily to maximize profit as much as possible (provided you’re not up against a lot of competition). It’s always worth asking for a price reduction, especially if you know you’re up against some of those aforementioned repair needs.

    Understanding the difference between how to buy a foreclosed home and how to buy a traditional home comes down to understanding who you’re dealing with—i.e. banks, not sentimental homeowners. From there, you can start to put forth a strategy that sets you up in the best possible position to buy a foreclosed home that meets your needs and your budget.

    How to Buy a Foreclosed Home

    Alright, now that we’ve covered the basics, here’s what you’ll need to do if you want to buy a foreclosed home.

    1. Get Your Financing in Order

      Arrange your financing before you do anything else. Not only will this help you set your sights on the right foreclosed property, it will also help you speed the deal along as quickly as possible when you do find the right one. This is a big advantage for you as a buyer, since banks are eager to get these types of properties off their hands. If you’re in competition with another buyer and you have a mortgage pre-approval in place while they don’t, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be the one who snags the house.

    2. Find a Qualified Agent

      Not all real estate agents bring the same skills to the table. You’ll want to be sure to work with a real estate agent who has qualified experience in helping clients buy a foreclosed home, since not only will they know the right places to look they’ll also know the best strategies for dealing with banks.

      Note that it is possible to deal directly with the bank’s agent when you buy a foreclosed home and skip out on having your own agent entirely. However, it isn’t advised. A real estate agent who has experience with foreclosed homes is a valuable asset to have on your team, and can make sure the entire process goes smoothly.

    3. Start Actively Looking—and Act Quickly

      Homes in foreclosure often go fast. As such, you’ll need to be as active of a buyer as possible, scheduling showings quickly on homes that interest you and putting in offers right away if it’s the right fit (your mortgage pre-approval definitely comes in handy here).

      Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should jump the gun on a property, since while a foreclosed home might be cheaper to buy than a traditional home it’s still a major investment. Your real estate agent will be able to help you run comps and get inspections in place so that you can gather as much information as you need as quickly as possible.

    4. Determine Your Offer

      There is a lot that goes into choosing the most optimal offer when you’re going to buy a foreclosed home. Comps and repair necessities are key, but you also have to pay very close attention to the foreclosure market. If foreclosed homes are going fast, then it might not be in your best interest to underbid—and you may even have to offer a bit more than the asking price, especially if there are alternate buyers who are interested. Meanwhile, in a slow foreclosure market you’ve definitely got some wiggle room to come in under on price.

      As always when determining how much you want to offer for a home, consider more than just what you’ll spend on your down payment and monthly mortgage. You’ll need to have room in your budget for closing costs, homeowners insurance, and property taxes, and there’s a strong likelihood you’ll need to account for repairs and renovations as well.

    5. Wait For Your Closing Date

      Your closing date might not be as cut and dry with a home in foreclosure as it would with a traditional home. It’s possible that there will be liens on the property that you’ll need to work through or that the bank won’t be quite as speedy in processing all of the paperwork as you’d hope. So while a standard closing period is usually around 50 days, know that you might have to stretch that out when you buy a foreclosed home.

    Always do plenty of research before buying a foreclosed home, both in regards to the property itself and what buying a home in foreclosure entails. It’s not always a simple process, nor are there any guarantees that you’ll be able to make a good return on your investment. But if you do everything right and stay in your budget, there’s a good chance you’ll come out on top.

     

  • February 2020 - Riverside County Calendar of Events

     

    Peppermint Possibilities Dinner and Auction   Feb. 1
    Enjoy a delicious themed meal, participate in the live and silent auction, and have a roaring good time that would make Gatsby jealous. Its going to be the bees knees! Come as a flapper or come as you are. Dress as a gangster or a silent screen star. Its going to be fun - no matter the dress. Proceeds raised will go towards supporting Peppermint Ridges mission: to create a community of loving homes and empowering support services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
    Time/Place: 6:30-8:30pm / Eagle Glen Golf Club, Corona 
    Contact: 951-273-7320 / www.peppermintridge.org


    Corona Chamber Installation & Awards   Feb. 6
    Seating and sponsorship opportunities are now open for the 109th Annual Installation & Awards event for the Corona Chamber, honoring businesses and individuals and installing our Board of Directors. We will also install our 2020 Board of Directors, thank those leaving the Board for their service, and hear the vision from incoming Chairman Don Williamson. 
    Time/Place: 5:30pm / Eagle Glen Golf Club
    Contact: 951-737-3350 / www.mychamber.org


    Take a Hike - Audie Murphy Ranch   Feb. 8
    Do you love to walk in nature but have nowhere to go? Fear no more. The City of Perris has a series of challenging local hikes. Those participating in any Take A Hike event will be entered to win a prize at the hiking event. 
    Time/Place: 7-10:30am / 30508 Rattle Dance Way, Menifee 
    Contact: 951-943-6100 / www.cityofperris.org


    Hound Town Get Down   Feb. 8
    Treat your Pooches to Smooches. Celebrate Valentines Day with your favorite furry friend! This event is to gather together dog lovers and their dogs on a special Valentines Day. 
    Time/Place: 9am-12pm / Hound Town Dog Park: 11150 Redlands Blvd., Moreno Valley 
    Contact: 951-413-3280 / www.moval.org


    Run Your Heart Out   Feb. 8
    This is a 5K Run/Walk for all ages. We encourage participants to wear read to support someone close to their heart. Registration will take place the morning of the event.  
    Time/Place: 7:30-9am / Levee at Diamond Stadium, Lake Elisnore 
    Contact: 951-674-3124 x292 / www.lake-elsinore.org


    Black History Parade & Expo   Feb. 8
    An annual community event that celebrates Black History Month. The parade showcases various local organizations, bands, step teams, churches, community leaders, etc. The expo showcases craft and food vendors, childrens activities and entertainment. 
    Time/Place: 10:15am / Downtown Riverside 
    Contact: 951-255-5877 / www.riversideca.gov


    A Red Carpet Evening at the Fox   Feb. 9
    This Hollywood Awards Party includes a walk on the Red Carpet at the Fox Theater, screaming fans, celebrity impersonators, gourmet cuisine, craft cocktails, whiskey & cigar bar, live entertainment, and games, all to promote the education programs of the Fox Foundation. 
    Time/Place: 4pm / 3801 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside 
    Contact: 951-826-5769 / www.riversidefoxfoundation.org


    Carols Kitchen Wine Tasting   Feb. 9
    Wine tasting and appetizers, bottling experience and silent auction. Our mission is to strengthen the San Gorgonio Pass of Southern California by ensuring the men, women and children of our communities do not go hungryregardless of their age, religion, cultural background, employment or economic status, and physical and mental abilities. 
    Time/Place: 2pm / State Street Winery: 404 E State St., Redlands 
    Contact: 951-845-1843 / www.carolskitcheninc.org


    Annual Writers Week Conference   Feb. 10-14
    Writers Week is the longest-running, free literary event in California and features the most renowned authors of our day alongside those at the start of promising careers. 
    Time/Place: See website for schedule. / UC Riverside 
    Contact: 951-827-1012 / https://bit.ly/2tYrVcs


    Murrieta Job Fair   Feb. 11
    The City of Murrieta and the Murrieta/Wildomar Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a Job Fair! 
    Time/Place: 3-6:30pm / Murrieta Spectrum Shopping Center 
    Contact: 951-677-7916 / www.murrietachamber.org


    Anti-Childhood Obesity Project   Feb. 11
    The Run with ACOP (Anti-Childhood Obesity Project) was founded in February of 2016.  The project allows the police department to reach out to the youth of our community while building strong partnerships with local organizations. The mission of Run with ACOP is to bring awareness and education for a healthy lifestyle to the youth of the community while building strong community partnerships. Each event will have a specialized team present. Some of the teams will include crime prevention, K-9 team, mounted team, and special response team. 
    Time/Place: 5:30-6:30pm / Corona City Hall Lawn  

    Contact: www.CoronaCA.gov


    Ladle of Love Free Valentines Themed Community Luncheon   Feb. 12
    Feeding America Riverside | San Bernardinos (FARSB) 5th Annual Ladles of Love luncheon. FARSB will host the free soup-line style luncheon during Valentines week to highlight the need for the community to open their hearts to supporting their regional food banks efforts. FARSB provides food to nearly 200 nonprofit charity partners who share the food banks mission to alleviate hunger in the Inland Empire. 
    Time/Place: 12pm / Feeding America Riverside: 2950 A Jefferson Street  
    Contact: www.feedingamericaie.org/ladlesoflove


    MSJC Mobile Career Center   Feb. 13
    The City of Beaumont is pleased to partner with the Mt. San Jacinto Community College (MSJC) in 2020 to provide career and employment outreach services to the residents of Beaumont. Beginning in January, the MSJC Mobile Career Center will be available at the Beaumont Civic Center from 10am to 3pm the second Thursday of each month. The Mobile Career Center is equipped with state-of-the-art technology that can help first time career seekers and career changers make successful career and life choices. 
    Time/Place: 10am-3pm / Beaumont Civic Center: 550 E. 6th Street 
    Contact: 951-769-8527 / www.beaumontca.gov


    Cosecha Coming Valentines Day Weekend   Feb. 14-15
    We are happy to announce Cosecha SD by Chef Steve Brown will be returning to Eastvale to host a unique 9 course A5 Japanese Wagyu + True Hyogo KOBE Tasting Menu Dinner experience right here in Eastvale for our community and others throughout the region to enjoy. 
    Time/Place: 6-9pm / Eastvale Estate: 13200 Citrus Avenue 
    Contact: http://chefstevebrown.com/cosecha


    Murrieta Police Dept. 2020 K-9 Trials   Feb. 15
    Plus a Public Safety Fair, Kids Activities, Child ID Kits, Food and Much More! Proceeds will benefit the Paws4Law Foundation. 
    Time/Place: 11am-4pm / Murrieta Mesa High School 
    Contact: 951-677-7916 / www.murrietachamber.org


    American Red Cross Inland Empire Heroes Luncheon   Feb. 18
    Heroes are recognized in the following categories: Animal Welfare Hero, Corporate Hero, Disaster Services Hero, First Responder Hero, Gift of Life Hero, Good Samaritan Hero, Service to the Armed Forces Hero, Youth Hero (age 18 or younger). 
    Time/Place: 11:30am-1:30pm / Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, Riverside 
    Contact: 714-481-4444 / www.redcross.org


    Ladders and Linguine Dinner   Feb. 20
    The Friends of the Corona Public Library and the Corona Firefighters Association invite you to the annual Ladders & Linguine Dinner. The library and will offer hearty Italian food served by our local Corona Fire Department, libations, opportunity drawings of themed baskets, great music and much more! Tickets prices are $55 per person or $400 for a table of 8.  
    Time/Place: 6-8pm / Corona Public Library 
    Contact: 951-316-0018 / www.friendsofthecoronapubliclibrary.com


    Temecula 2020 Dance Series   Feb. 22
    Temecula Theaters 15th Dance Season launches with State Street Ballet. State Street Ballet presents The Jungle Book Ballet intertwining the four natural elements in this dazzling adaptation of Rudy Kiplings classic collection of stories. The Dance Season concludes with the return of Backhausdance, performing on May 30. 
    Time/Place: 8pm / Old Town Temecula Community Theater 
    Contact: 866-653-8696 / https://temeculaca.gov


    Womens Health Expo   Feb. 27
    Discover the wide range of womens healthcare programs and services provided by Temecula Valley Hospital, Inland Valley Medical Center and Rancho Springs Medical Center. Get health screenings and enjoy a delicious lunch. 
    Time/Place: 10am-1:30pm / Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula 
    Contact: www.temeculavalleyhospital.com/expo


    Celebration of American Black History   Feb. 29
    In celebration of American Black History, the Temecula Valley Museum and the Old Town Temecula Community Theater team up to present an evening of thought-provoking and entertaining music focused on the evolution of music from slavery to the present day. 
    Time/Place: 7:30pm / Old Town Temecula Community Theater 
    Contact: 866-653-8696 / https://temeculaca.gov


    Temecula Valley Chamber Awards Gala   Feb. 29
    Each year, the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce honors exceptional businesses, service/charitable organizations, and individuals. Awards will be presented with the title of Business, Service/Charitable, Valley Young Professional, Ambassador and Citizen of the Year, during the annual Awards Gala. A local business will be awarded the Welty Tourism Award presented by Visit Temecula Valley. 
    Time/Place: 5:30pm / Pechanga Resort & Casino 
    Contact: 951-676-5090 / https://temecula.org


    Chili Cook-Off & Craft Beer Festival   Feb. 29
    Fire and Ice is the signature annual fundraiser hosted by Circle City Rotary. It is a fun event that allows attendees to sample great craft beers, taste many different kinds of terrific chili made on site by dozens of contestants in the Chili Cook Off, listen to live music by a fantastic band, and to help multiple local non-profit organizations in the process. All net proceeds from the event go to support local non-profit organizations in the Corona, Norco, Eastvale, and Riverside areas. 
    Time/Place: 11am-3pm / The Shops at Dos Lagos, Corona 
    Contact: http://circlecityrotarycorona.org/fire-ice


    Red Dress Fashion Show & Health Expo   Feb. 29
    Confronting Generational Heart Disease Heart health and fashion vendor booths, free health screenings, gourmet lunch, physician panel, and red dress fashion show. Fashion glam booth by PatiesOuttaSight. Luncheon is open seating. Reserved tables are for Event Sponsors Only. 
    Time/Place: 9am-2pm / Riverside Convention Center
    Contact: 951-788-3463 / www.RCHRedDressFashionShow.com


  • 7 Things Buyers Should Keep in Mind When Looking at a House

    Searching for a new home? The listing price and interior features aren’t the only things to keep in mind when looking at a house. Nowadays, buyers must also remember to watch out for hidden cameras, high maintenance costs and bad neighbors when touring a property. For more advice on what to look out for when attending an open house or a private showing, read our seven tips below. 

     

    1. The sellers might be watching and listening

      In today’s tech-savvy world, buyers must be aware that sellers could be watching and listening during a showing. From Ring video doorbells to Nest security cams, many of today’s homes are outfitted in smart cameras and microphones, making it easy for homeowners to spy on potential buyers as they tour a house. As a result, buyers must be careful with their words and actions while house hunting. In fact, we recommend that buyers always act as if they are being watched (and listened to) when looking at a house – this means being careful not to over-praise or insult a home. Remember: you can always discuss your real thoughts and feelings about the home after you’ve left the premises.

    2. The comparable sales in the area

      Research nearby comparable sales before touring a home. These “comps,” or comparable sales, refer to recently sold properties that have similar characteristics. Make sure to pay attention to a comp’s square footage, features and location. This will give you a good idea of whether or not a home is priced fairly. If the home seems over-priced compared to comps, then ask yourself “why?”. Has it been recently updated? Are the finishes nicer than other nearby properties? On the other hand, if the home is priced considerably lower than nearby comps, this may signal a fixer-upper situation.

    3. The size of the home and potential growth challenges

      Thinking of growing your family? If you plan to expand, be sure to keep this in mind when perusing homes. A common mistake that many buyers make is purchasing a small home, only to end up with a space that doesn’t fit their growing family later down the road. Trust us: the last thing you want to do is move and then move again in the near future. So even if a two-bedroom apartment fits your needs now, keep in mind that it may not fit them in several years. Be sure the house has an adequate number of bedrooms and an adequate amount of square footage to meet your future plans.

    4. The Realtor’s relationship to the sellers

      Does your Realtor (or buyer’s agent) also happen to be the listing agent of the home for sale? If so, consider hiring another agent to guide you through the process. While having a dual agent may allow more flexibility in a home’s price, it could end up hurting the buyer in the long run. When the agent represents both the seller and the buyer, the agent technically becomes a transactional broker representing only the transaction. However, since it’s in the Realtor’s best interest (and the seller’s) to get the most money possible for the listing, it’s unlikely that they will truly have the buyer’s best interest at heart. For this reason, we recommend finding a real estate agent who doesn’t have conflicting interests. Want to learn more about the difference between the buyer’s agent and the listing agent? Check here.

    5. The location of the home

      You know what they say when it comes to real estate: “location, location, location!”. While buyers can replace finishes, move walls and repaint surfaces, they can’t change the location of the home. Buyers must be aware that location is the single most important characteristic of a home. It impacts resale value (and the value in general) more than any other feature of a house. Remember: you don’t want to be the best home on the worst block. So when house hunting, be sure to keep the location top of mind.

    6. The hidden costs of owning a home

      Mortgage payments aren’t the only thing that costs money. When house hunting, buyers must be aware of other major expenses that go along with homeownership. For instance, if the home is larger than the previous house, buyers will likely have to spend more money on new furnishings and high utility bills. Other additional costs include homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, closing costs and possible renovation costs. Buyers should also factor in the cost of general maintenance needs. For example, if the home has a swimming pool or elaborate landscaping, buyers will need to be able to pay for the upkeep of these features.

    7. The neighbors age and lifestyle

      “Who are the neighbors?” should be the question on every buyer’s minds when looking at a home. After all, neighbors can easily make or break a living situation. Families with young kids should look out for signs of other nearby families, such as basketball goals in the driveway or toys on the lawn. Retirees looking for a 55+ community should avoid looking at neighborhoods packed with young children. Of course, everyone must watch out for neighborhoods with bad neighbors. From inconsiderate dog owners, who think it’s acceptable to let their dog bark at night, to party hardy neighbors, who are loud and obnoxious, here are several bad neighbors you should avoid when buying a home.

    Moving to a new home sometime soon?

    Finally found the perfect home? Congrats! Now it’s time to start planning your move. Fortunately, Moving.com’s Move Planner includes printable moving checklists for every type of relocation. In addition, you can create a customized moving checklist to organize all of your different tasks by week for a successful move. To find a reliable moving company, you can also check Moving.com’s extensive network of movers. Our website makes it easy to find and book the best moving company for the job. All relocation companies in our network are licensed and insured, so you can rest assured that your move will be in good hands. Best of luck and happy moving!

  • How to Research and Compare Local Moving Companies

    When it comes to selecting a professional moving company for your next move, it’s always a good idea to do your research. Often, you can find a lot of information on national providers but then have a little more difficulty digging up the info that you need to know to choose among your local moving companies. A highly rated national moving company might not necessarily offer the best service or prices in your specific area, and likewise, you may find that you get a better deal opting for a big name instead of a smaller company. And while we can’t tell you what your most preferable option is, we can tell you how to do the legwork to find out.

     Below, we’ll go over how to research and compare local moving companies so that you can hire the team that will give you the most value at the best price.

    1. Know What You’re Looking For

      Most of us have a few distinct guidelines that we need to cover when we hire movers, particularly when it comes to moving truck size and the location that assistance is needed. Figure out what your non-negotiables are early on so that you don’t waste any of your time researching local moving companies that aren’t going to be able to meet your needs. Most companies will share information about their transportation area and capacity right on their websites, so you should be able to save yourself a lot of effort by ensuring that companies check off those key boxes before dedicating any more time to the task.

      Helpful hint: Not sure what size moving truck you need? As a general rule of thumb, small moving trucks (10 to 12 feet) are good for studio and one bedroom apartments, medium moving trucks (14 to 17 feet) are good for one and two bedroom homes and apartments, and large moving trucks (20 to 26 feet) are good for three bedroom homes and larger. Learn more by reading our article on how to figure out what size truck you should get.

    2. Compile a List of Options

      With those high-level needs in mind, start your search and put together an initial list of local moving companies that might be good for the job. Use our free online directory to quickly pull up all a list of reputable movers in your area. You’ll be able to specify your basic needs even further by choosing your move type—i.e. full service, auto transport, office moves, and more.

    3. Look at Reviews

      Now is when things get a little bit tougher, since once you have your list you’ll need to get to work on your comparisons. Reviews are a great place to start, since the best indicator of what you can expect with local moving companies is almost always the experiences of people who have used them in the past. Fortunately, we make it easy to find reliable commentary, with a list of reviews easily accessibly right from the directory (you can find the link under each company’s logo).

      In addition to reading through reviews on our site, check out reviews through other reliable sources like Google and Facebook. Pay attention to what people are saying in terms of availability, ease of scheduling, pricing, and quality of service. If a company doesn’t meet your needs and expectations based on the reviews that you find, remove them from your list of potential hires.

    4. Get Quotes

      Obviously budget is a major factor to keep in mind when you’re researching and comparing local moving companies, which is why we recommend getting quotes from at least three different movers. Prices can vary widely, even among companies serving the same areas. And since pricing for each move is largely dependent on how much stuff you have, when you’re moving, and how much labor your move will require, you are always going to be better off reaching out for a quote directly instead of trying to parse together cost information from what’s available on a company’s website.

      Use our moving company directory’s “Get Quote” feature to easily connect with local moving companies and let them know what you’re looking for so you can get as accurate of a cost estimate as possible. You’ll be asked to provide a general moving inventory, so have a clear idea of what you’ll be moving—especially large items like furniture and appliances—so that each company can offer you a quote.

      Keep in mind that while cost is key, it shouldn’t necessarily be the sole deciding factor when choosing among local moving companies. Pay attention to pricing structure (hourly versus by the job), as well as what else is included in the quoted estimate (does the quote include moving blankets? Packing services?). With all of that information in mind you’ll be able to narrow your list down even further into local moving companies that offer you not just the best price but the best value.

      Note that quotes are just estimates and are not necessarily the exact price that you’ll pay come moving day. They should provide a general baseline however that you can go off of when selecting your most cost effective option. Also, check to see if any of your local moving companies are offering promotions, or if they have a discount that might apply to you—many offer deals for veterans, seniors, and other specific groups of people.

    5. Book Your Service

      Hopefully after completing the steps above you have the name of a company that you want to schedule your move with. In that case, it’s time to check their availability and book your service. If you have a few companies that fit the bill, contact all of them to check availability and mention that you’re still deciding on your best fit—one company may lower their prices for you in order to get an edge on their competitors.

      Booking service with a moving company is easy, and can often be done online. Let the company know if you have any flexibility with your moving date, since some dates and times are cheaper than others and they may be able to offer you an even better rate if you’re open to a range of available slots.

    Additional Tips for Choosing Local Moving Companies

    Ask around for referrals. Reach out to trusted friends and family members to inquire about their own experiences with moving companies in your area. It’s possible that someone you know had a negative experience with a highly rated company, or vice versa.

    Always check for license and insurance. Never hire a moving company that doesn’t offer proof of license and insurance, and visit fmcsa.dot.gov to make sure that a company has a valid U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) number.

    Be wary of red flags. If something stands out to you as sketchy when researching and comparing moving companies, then trust your gut and cross that name off the list. Potential red flags include companies that ask for deposits before moving day and companies that rent instead of own their moving vehicles.

    Following the steps and advice above helps ensure that you hire a moving company that won’t just get the job done for a reasonable price but will get the job done right. Check out our additional moving articles for everything else that you need to know to facilitate a move that goes as seamlessly as possible.

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