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  • 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.

  • Do Your Clients Know the Difference Between a REALTOR® and a Real Estate Agent?

    Do your clients realize that the words "REALTOR®" and "real estate agent" aren't the same thing?
     
    Most consumers are not aware, but as an industry professional, you know there are important distinctions between the terms. While most people will use both terms to mean the same thing, that isn't correct. A real estate agent can also be a REALTOR®, but that isn't always the case. Many interchange the words "broker," "agent" and "REALTOR®," as if they are the same. They are not!



    Now, let's analyze how a REALTOR® differs from a real estate agent.
     
    Simply, a real estate agent is anyone with a license to assist people in buying and selling property. It could be either residential or commercial, and they could be working as a broker or sales associate.

    The rules for becoming a real estate agent vary between states, but typically involve classroom study followed by examinations. In these classes, applicants will learn about both state and national laws they will need to follow in their career. These will be provided by an accredited training facility, college or university.

    Once they have passed their final exam, they will be allowed to operate as a real estate agent legally. They will also need to make sure they pay annual licensing fees and complete any other state requirements. This can include further courses to allow them to renew their license, called continuing education courses.
     
    How Is a REALTOR® Different?
    The word "REALTOR®" is a trademarked term, and one of the most prominent by the biggest trade association in the United States, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). NAR was founded in 1908 in Chicago, initially under the name the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges.

    The fledgling association started with just 120 members, and today, they have over 1.4 million. In 1916, the term REALTOR® was proposed by a vice president of the organization to differentiate their members as following their code of ethics.

    The association decided to trademark and copyright the word "REALTORS®" in 1949. They did the same with "Realtor" the following year. They changed the name of the association to include the word "REALTORS®" in 1972.

    They have faced some legal challenges over the word, claiming it is a generic term that shouldn't be a trademark. As you might expect, they vigorously defend their trademark, winning many cases.
     
    What Are the Benefits of Using a REALTOR®?
    NAR has a Code of Ethics that holds members to higher standards than typical real estate agents. The Code lays out the responsibilities of every REALTOR®, which fosters more professionalism among members.

    Every new member is required to attend training courses that set out how they should treat their customers, as well as other REALTORS®. Every so often, members are required to complete more training as part of their ongoing membership duties.

    REALTORS® are committed to treating everyone in the home-buying process honestly and fairly. They are held accountable by other REALTORS®, as well as their local association, to make sure they stick to the rules and the Code of Ethics. Using a REALTOR® means that you will benefit from these commitments to get a better service when buying or selling a property.
     
    Who Can Become a REALTOR®?
    Not only real estate agents can join NAR. It is also open to brokers, appraisers, property managers and any other professionals in the industry. The first step to joining NAR is to become a member of one of their local associations. There are 1,400 of these across the country, and they require an application fee and approval from the board of directors to join.
     
    Members of local associations can then join the NAR as long as they hold a current real estate license and are active in the business. They also need to not have a record of bankruptcy or sanctions for unprofessional conduct.

    For a real estate firm, NAR requires that a principal member of the business needs to join before anyone else is accepted as a member. The principal could be a partner in the firm, major shareholder or a manager. One of them will then act as the main REALTOR® for the business, responsible for all the obligations and duties of membership.

    When an applicant is accepted into the association, there is a membership fee of $150. Part of this fee is used by the association to fund their lobbying PAC, which is the largest direct contributor to federal candidates. This powerful organization pushes to advance legislative benefits for the industry and its members.
     
    How Does a Real Estate Broker Differ From an Agent or REALTOR®?
    The most significant difference between a real estate agent, REALTOR® and a broker is having a real estate brokerage license. Getting your broker license is done at the state level. In order to get your broker license, you must have been working as an agent for a minimum of two years. Also, you must take classes and pass an exam.
     
    Typically, but not always, a real estate broker will have sales associates that work under them. The broker oversees the daily interactions between the agents working under them, along with the clients they serve.

    Real estate brokers are often problem-solvers for the agents they employ. It is possible a broker could participate in helping clients to buy and sell homes. Some brokers, however, choose not to compete with their agents for business.

    Outside of management, one of the most significant responsibilities of a real estate broker is to be accountable for a buyer's earnest money deposit funds. Buyers usually will be required to put monies in escrow to solidify a transaction and prove to a seller they are sincere about moving forward. A real estate broker must account for these funds at closing.

    At times, a real estate transaction will fall through. Brokers are often put in a position where both the buyer and seller will want the earnest money. Who gets to keep the earnest money is usually decided by an arbitrator or a court of competent jurisdiction when there is a disagreement among the parties. Real estate brokers often take the brunt of one party being extremely upset they don't get to keep the deposit.
     
    Final Thoughts
    When buying or selling a home, it is essential for consumers to understand the differences between an agent, REALTOR® and broker. The selection of the "right" agent is a critical exercise when buying or selling a home. Choosing the right person for the job will be a significant factor is their satisfaction, so they should always spend the time doing a proper amount of due diligence.

    Also, understand there are differences between buyer's agents and seller's agents. While many agents do both, each facet of the business has different skillsets.

     

  • How to Save Money on a Home Renovation

    Want to save money on a renovation? Many homeowners end up overspending and exceeding their budgets simply because they underestimate home renovation costs. Fortunately, with the right planning and budgeting know-how, it is possible to cut down on costs when renovating a property without compromising the quality. From prioritizing home projects and working in phases to repurposing used materials and seeking multiple bids, here are 11 ways you can save money on a renovation.

     

    11 ways to save money on a renovation

    1. Know your budget

      Before renovations begin, figure out how much money you are able and willing to spend on individual projects and on the renovation as a whole. Take a look at your personal savings and financing options. In addition, we recommend researching cost estimates for renovation projects. This should give you a rough idea of how much everything will cost, so that you can budget accordingly. For the latest renovation cost estimates, check out Remodeling’s 2019 Cost vs. Value report.

    2. Prioritize renovations that add value

      While perusing Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value Report, pay close attention to the renovation projects that get homeowners the most bang for their buck – especially if you plan to list your home in the future. Focusing on changes that add value to the home will increase your chances of getting your money back (and then some) when you decide to sell the property. Several renovations that tend to get the biggest return include a wood deck addition, kitchen and bathroom remodels, siding and vinyl window replacements, and an upscale garage door replacement. For more information about the most valuable home improvements, check here.

    3. Seek bids from multiple contractors

      Renovating the entire home? You’ll likely need a general contractor to handle and coordinate all of the individual projects throughout the property. While general contractors tend to be quite expensive, many homeowners will tell you that they are well worth the money. In addition to overseeing the entire renovation, general contractors help homeowners make budget-conscious decisions when it comes to improvement projects. To find the best value, we recommend interviewing and seeking bids from at least three different contractors. For tips on how to find a contractor, check here.

    4. Be your own contractor

      Think you have what it takes to coordinate your own home renovation? One of the best ways to save money is by being your own general contractor. That means finding and coordinating all subcontractors yourself. According to Angie’s List, general contractors typically cost anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the total cost of the job. By acting as your own contractor, you will save thousands of dollars on your home renovation.

    5. Do as much of it yourself as possible

      If you fancy yourself a handy guy or gal, we suggest doing parts of the renovation yourself. This is the best, surefire way to save money on a renovation. Examples of home renovation projects that you may be able to do yourself include painting the interior, installing shelving and closets, installing wallpaper, painting tiles, installing kitchen backsplash, and demolition of walls. Of course, some parts of the renovation process are best left to the professionals. If you need to make plumbing or electrical changes, we recommend consulting with the pros.

    6. Find used renovation material

      Not everything needs to be brand spanking new. A great way to save money on a renovation is by seeking out gently used materials and finishes to use throughout the home. This could mean using leftover slabs (also known as remnants) of stone (i.e. quartz, marble, granite, etc) for countertops or flooring. Oftentimes, you can also find used vanities and appliances for sale on local online marketplaces. Amazon Warehouse is another great online marketplace for used items. Shoppers may be able to find great deals on quality pre-owned door knobs, cabinets, doors and more.

    7. Wait to purchase home items during big sales

      From backsplash and tile to appliances and furniture, the price of new home items quickly adds up. If you opt to purchase new materials over pre-owned ones, try to buy them during big holiday sales when prices are lowest. These big sales typically happen during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Labor Day, Memorial Day, July Fourth, Christmas and New Year’s. You can also sign up for price alerts such as Google Shopping’s new price tracking optionto keep up-to-date with the latest deals on items you’ve been eyeing.

    8. Don’t do everything at once

      If you want to save money on a renovation do not attempt all changes at once. Instead, we recommend living in the home first to see what it is you really need and want to change. Chances are good that over time you’ll learn to live with some of the home materials and finishes you once couldn’t stand. Even if you do decide to go through with all of the planned renovations, doing so in separate phases will allow you to save up for each project.

    9. Sell the home’s old materials to purchase new one

      You know what they say: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Before tossing the home’s old light fixtures, old doors and other home items, try selling them through an online marketplace. While those old doorknobs may not be your style, they could be someone else’s. To sell used items try posting them on Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor.com, OfferUp and LetGo. You might be surprised how many responses you receive.

    10. Consider using a home equity line of credit to pay for renovations

      Can’t pay for your renovations with cash? Consider using a home equity line of credit (also known as a HELOC) instead of taking out a conventional loan. A home equity line of credit is a loan that you borrow against the equity in your house. The reason this will save you money is because a home equity line of credit typically has lower interest rates than a conventional loan. This will save you from having to make large payments on high interest loans. For more information about a HELOC, check here.

    11. Purchase floor model appliances

      It’s no secret that appliances can be quite expensive – especially if you plan to outfit your home in high end items such as a Sub-Zero refrigerator and a Wolf oven. Fortunately, there are ways to score major deals on home appliances that don’t involve shopping during the Black Friday madness. One such way is by purchasing a floor model instead of a brand new appliance. Many floor model appliances still come with a manufacturer’s warranty. According to Appliance Buyer’s Guide, buyers can expect to score between 5 and 15 percent off original prices when purchasing floor model appliances.

    Moving to a fixer-upper?

    We understand that moving before or after a renovation takes a good deal of planning and coordinating. To get organized for your upcoming move, use our comprehensive Move Planner. Our tool provides customizable moving checklists, personal tasks list, helpful recommendations, email reminders and plenty of coupons to get you organized. For assistance with finding the best movers for the jobs, check Moving.com’s extensive network of reputable and reliable movers. 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!

  • 3 Tips to Keep Your Financial Resolutions for 2020

    A new year is here, and with it, a new decade. That means it's high season for making resolutions and charting ways to make improvements, achieve new things, and move toward a better future. Unfortunately, following through on those ambitions tends to be much more difficult than many people expect. 

    Research by U.S. News & World Report suggests that a shocking 80% of New Year's resolutions fail by February, and a study from the University of Scranton found that 92% of all resolutions are left unfulfilled. Some studies have found better success rates, but the overwhelming body of research on the subject shows that most people have trouble holding to their New Year's resolutions.

    Making big changes and hitting substantial milestones isn't easy, but smart planning and the right approach will help you achieve your resolutions for 2020. Read on to learn about three strategies that will help you make good on your financial goals and get the decade off to a great start. 

     

    1. Make your financial resolutions both inspiring and realistic

    The great industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie once said, "If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes." The best financial resolutions will motivate and captivate you, but you also want to make sure your ambitions are feasibly within reach.

    Not only will choosing realistic goals put you in a better position to achieve them, but it will also help prevent you from taking on unnecessary risks. For example, a goal to have the stocks you buy in 2020 double by the end of the year could very easily lead to taking on more risk than is prudent. Setting a goal that's too difficult or unrealistic to achieve can actually wind up setting you back.

    In some aspects of life, there's truth to The Power of Positive Thinking author Norman Vincent Peale's maxim: "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you will wind up among the stars." This approach can yield great results when it comes to things like saving money or paying off debt, but it can also be dangerous if improperly applied to investing.

    Goals should be challenging and give you something to strive for. They should also be realistic and chosen so as to not expose you to unnecessary, dangerous levels of risk. Concentrating on a limited number of rewarding (but achievable) financial goals will put you in the best position for success.

    2. Break down your big goals into achievable increments

    Whether you're looking to save a certain amount of money before 2020 is over, hit a contribution target for your retirement fund, or pay off debts, it's often best to tackle these big objectives with an incremental approach. Breaking your goals for the year up into daily, weekly, or monthly milestones will make them more manageable and provide you with positive feedback as you move toward tackling big resolutions.

    Having a sense of satisfaction and achievement and being able to track your progress will help keep you motivated. Some people find it helpful to have these smaller goals written down on a list or planned out on a calendar. Whether you choose to reward yourself after completing each small milestone on your path to achieving your bigger goals, or simply take satisfaction in knowing that you've completed another step, having an incremental approach to your financial resolutions sets up a dynamic of positive reinforcement that will make it easier to stay motivated.

    Behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner is perhaps the most famous expert to study and document this dynamic, and he once wrote, "Properly used, positive reinforcement is extremely powerful." It's easier to stick to goals if you're able to measure your progress along the way and get positive feedback and a sense of progression as you move toward the overall resolution. Make your large financial resolutions more manageable by breaking them down into smaller goals, and tap into the power of positive reinforcement to help keep you moving forward.

    3. Understand your habits and work to form new, positive ones

    American writer Edgar S. Burroughs is best known for his Tarzan and John Carter of Mars novels, but he also bestowed upon us some valuable wisdom about the role that habit plays in success and failure. Burroughs wrote:

    We are, all of us, creatures of habit, and when the seeming necessity for schooling ourselves in new ways ceases to exist, we fall naturally and easily into the manner and customs which long usage has implanted ineradicably within us.

    To paraphrase, it's human nature to fall into past habits if we're not making a conscious attempt to move into new directions and establish more beneficial practices.

    Being conscious of habits that have caused you to fall short of previous goals and being cognizant of going through the steps needed to form new habits will help you reach your goals this year. Failing to make good on otherwise achievable financial resolutions will typically come down to not establishing the right new habits.

    Looking further back in the Western canon, Aristotle is often sourced for this bit of wisdom: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." In order to best achieve your resolutions this year, set goals that are both reasonable and inspiring, break them down into manageable increments, and then concentrate on establishing habits that put you on the path to excellence.

     


  • 7 Important Home Repairs to Do Right After Moving Out

    Congratulations: You're moving out, and on to your next home! Now all you have to do is pack up your things and skedaddle, right?

    Not so fast. If you're still trying to sell your current home, you'll want to make sure it looks its best, which means you might have to make a few repairs. And there's no better time to do this than after you've removed all your boxes and furnishings, since this means you've got plenty of space to get the job done right (and with minimal mess).

    Granted, you might have already made some upgrades during the early stages of sales prep ... but moving out means you could uncover a whole lot more. And trust us, buyers will notice!

     Of course, if you've already sold your home, you're off the hook ... but if not, it will behoove you to do these seven upgrades after moving out. Don't worry, they're fairly easy, and they'll make a big difference helping you find a buyer who'll pay top dollar.

    1. Patch holes in walls

    Seeing walls with holes—even small holes left by nails—is an immediate turnoff to home buyers, says Sarah Fishburne, director of trend and design at The Home Depot. But you don't have to repaint your entire house to have your home looking fresh again. A little spackling, followed by spot painting—a cinch if you've kept some original paint—will do the trick. (If you don't have any leftover paint, peel a dollar-size piece from the wall and bring it to the paint store so they can match the color for you.)

     If you have only a few holes and scratches, you can fill them with spackling compound, which is sold in small quantifrecities. For a greater number of gashes or holes, use joint compound, which is sold in quarts or 5-gallon buckets.

    2. Add a fresh coat of paint to rooms that are outdated or painted in loud colors

    Love that plum paint color you chose for your master bedroom? Home buyers might not! The good news is, painting a room is an easy, low-cost project you can do yourself. Selecting the right hue, though, is crucial.

    “Neutral colors are generally the safest choice, as they blend with many different decor styles,” says Hunter MacfarlaneLowe’s project expert. “Gray is a popular color to paint a room before selling, as it gives the walls depth while still tying furniture and other decor items together.”

    Moreover, “a fresh coat of paint never hurt resale value,” Fishburne says.

    3. Replace old outlet wall plates

    This is another quick and budget-friendly way to make a space feel cleaner and updated, Macfarlane says. Proceed with caution, however: Old wall plates can be a fire hazard if they’re cracked or damaged in any way. If you suspect there’s an issue, hire an electrician to replace the wall plates for you.

    4. Clean carpeting

    Dirty and dingy carpets are huge eyesores, which is why David Pekel, chief executive officer at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, recommends that homeowners give their house’s carpeting a good cleaning after moving out. You can amp up your vacuum with rug-cleaning products such as powders, foam sprays, and liquid shampoos available at grocery and hardware stores. For stained areas, use a bristled brush to work the cleaning solution into the carpet before allowing it to dry and then vacuuming up.

    To remove embedded dirt, you may need to use a powerful industrial-style carpet-cleaning machine, like a Rug Doctor, which sprays hot water with a detergent over the carpet and extracts it with a high-powered vacuum. Industrial carpet cleaners have more washing and sucking power than most consumer carpet cleaners, but they’re expensive to buy—about $400 to $700—so it's more economical to rent one from a hardware store for about $25 to $30 per day.

    5. Clean hardwood floors

    Many home buyers swoon over hardwood floors. So if you have them, make sure they're glistening after you move out.

    “Wood is probably the easiest floor covering to keep clean, but you have to use the right cleaning products,” says Brett Miller, vice president of education and certification for the National Wood Flooring Association in St. Louis.

    Most wood floor installers or manufacturers recommend cleaners that contain isopropyl alcohol, which dries quickly, and are available at home supply stores. To make your own solution, simply add a capful of white vinegar to a gallon of water, which will help dissolve grease and grime on the floor but won’t strip the finish. To remove shoe scuffs, rub marks with a tennis ball, which cleans without scratching the finish.

    Under no circumstances should you use a steam mop, Miller warns.

    “Steam is horrible for wood floors. It opens the pores in woods and damages the finish, causing irreversible damage to any wood floor,” he says. Here's more on how to clean hardwood floors.

    6. Replace or refresh old hardware

    Swapping out old cabinet and door hardware is a simple, low-cost project you can tackle in a day that will make your home more visually appealing. All you need is a screwdriver and a free afternoon. Want to save some money? Keep your existing hardware and give it a makeover with spray paint—a few light coats can breathe new life and personality into rusty old knobs and pulls.

    7. Improve the look and functionality of your master bathroom

    full bathroom remodel is expensive; on average, it costs $10,344, according to HomeAdvisor. Just a few changes to your master bathroom, though, can make it one of the most stylish rooms in your house.

    Simple touch-ups, like regrouting and recaulking bathroom tile, will make the room look newer. In addition, swapping out inefficient toilets, faucets, and shower heads for products that aid in water conservation can add real appeal to prospective home buyers who are looking to lower their water footprint (and lower their water bill!). A low-flow toilet, for example, uses 20% less water than a standard toilet, and water-saving shower heads can help families save almost 3,000 gallons of water a year.

  • 5 Home Upgrades Millennials Couldn't Care Less About

    Despite being called out for their ineptitude at saving money and their overwhelming fondness for spending it on experiences instead of things, millennials actually do desire financial stability—especially if it means they can buy a house.

    So what kind of homes do they want? According to real estate professionals, a large majority of millennials seeks out properties that are move-in ready—with plenty of room for customization.

     "They care more about the home being clean and in good condition," says Mary Katherine Spalding, a Realtor® associate with Helen Painter Group in Fort Worth, TX. "Cosmetic changes are much easier to make, and millennials are a generation of DIYers.”


     But home sellers are also becoming well-vers

    ed in what they don't want. If you're looking to attract millennial buyers, be forewarned: These home upgrades will turn them away from your home faster than you can say, "What's your Wi-Fi password?"

    1. Over-the-top landscaping

     A spacious, well-manicured yard was the pride and joy of earlier generations that didn’t mind working up a sweat mowing and fertilizing their lawns. But that's not the case with busy millennials. They prefer cultivating indoor plants—and the convenience of an outdoor space that's easy to maintain.

     

    Jason Duff, founder and CEO of Small Nation, a real estate development company in Bellefontaine, OH, says millennials prefer to have landscaping beds (for growing a vegetable garden?) and other green-filled areas that look nice, are easy to maintain, and can be set up for quality time with pets.

    2. A formal dining room

    Mom and Grandma may have cherished dinner time in their fancy dining room with matching plates, sterling silver flatware, and gold-plated tea sets. But younger buyers tend to consider that dedicated room a stuffy waste of space.

    Duff says young buyers enjoy cooking in their kitchen and want to eat in or near their kitchen, too.

    “Most millennials don't care about formal dining rooms," says Duff. "It was a fixture for many homes in previous decades, but today dining tends to happen close to the kitchen—from the convenience of a meal home delivery box like Blue Apron—or on the go.”

    When it comes to gathering for a meal, millennials appreciate the laid-back simplicity of breakfast nooks and bar stools.

     

    3. A designated floor plan

    Older generations may be satisfied with a mapped-out floor plan that designates a living room, kitchen, and dining room, but millennials seek multifunctional rooms. Think wide-open spaces that make the home feel like one flowing space.

    “Where homes traditionally would have separate rooms, millennials are gravitating toward having large, open rooms that bring these all together like kitchens with breakfast bars or islands that open to the living space,” says John Steele, a real estate agent with Team Steele San Diego Homes in California.

    4. Brand-new carpeting

    If you're considering sprucing up your home before you sell, think twice before spending money on installing new carpets. Millennials are moving away from carpeting in favor of bare floors with statement rugs.

    “There are some buyers that like it in the bedrooms, but in the living spaces, laminates, tile, hardwood, and engineered hardwood are much more popular,” says Steele.

    Another reason to stick with noncarpeted flooring is that it's more pet-friendly—and millennials love their pets. Carpeting can absorb and retain odors, stains, and hair, and pet cleanup is easier on a hardwood floor.

    5. Memorabilia and game rooms

    Millennials aren’t defined by their possessions—and they definitely don’t want to showcase them in a room. So if you're thinking about staging a room where the owners can show off their stuff, think again.

    “Millennials may be a little different than previous generations in wanting to keep, collect, and show off all that they have accumulated," says Duff. "Put away the pool table and think digital,” says Duff.

    Millennials live a more digital existence, so Duff recommends staging your game area in a media room with a large TV or projector and maybe even surround sound.

  • 10 Secrets No One Tells You That'll Help Your House Fetch Top Dollar

    Maybe you’ve bought and sold a home before, or maybe this is the first time. Regardless, now you need to get top dollar for it. Yes, you can tidy up, bake some cookies so the house smells nice, and place fresh flowers (research says roses, lavender, and fuchsia most sway buyers) around the house. But these are the typical techniques most sellers deploy. Really want to get the best price possible—or even spark a bidding war?

    Here are 10 tips that are seldom mentioned in listing houses that just might put your property over the edge.

    1. Make sure your mailbox looks amazing

    First impressions matter, which is why you should check out your curb appeal. Is the driveway cracked? Is the mailbox old and leaning? The best sales rest on keeping these details in mind.

     “Replace the mailbox—literally the first thing people see,” says Teris Pantazes, CEO and co-founder of SettleRite, a pre-sale home improvement company in Baltimore.

    2. Make the right use of your rooms

    If you use the dining room for a kid's playroom, or if the loft is empty because you don't have a use for it, restage your rooms so they reflect their original purpose. Buyers want to see the space used in a traditional way—with a dining table in the dining room, a desk and chair in the office—to envision themselves living there.

    3. Reglaze the bathroom

     “The best tip I use to get top dollar for some of our houses is to reglaze an old bathroom that has a terrible color of tile—like pink or green,” says Michael Pinter, a house flipper in Long Island, NY, with LMPK Properties. "We reglaze the bathroom white for a few hundred dollars, and a dated bathroom will look 30 years younger."

    Bathrooms and kitchens sell houses, and any small improvement that makes those rooms more modern makes a huge difference.

    4. Get buyers to fall in love

    Russell Volk, a real estate agent with Re/Max Elite serving Bucks County, PA, worked with a home-selling couple who decided to hand-write a one-page letter about their life in the house.

    “Their story of how they raised their family and what kind of experiences they had in the home was very personal and emotional,” says Volk. The letter was framed on the kitchen counter for potential buyers to read. One buyer who liked the home absolutely loved the sellers' story—and paid full asking price.

    “If sellers can connect with buyers on an emotional level, chances of buyers paying top dollar for the house drastically increase," says Volk.

    5. List under value

    "Data shows that if you list a home 10% under market value, you will attract 75% of the buyer pool, versus only 30% if you were to list 10% over market value,” says Melissa Colabella, at Sotheby's International Realty. “Yet sellers fear that not leaving room to negotiate leaves money on the table, which is not true.”

    In fact, buyers are often motivated to bid by seeing other bids on a property, a dynamic that typically pushes bids above market value.

    6. Provide insider information

    Make sure to include tidbits in the listing that buyers will appreciate and that they can only get from you: the mention of a popular neighborhood coffee shop, the best Mexican restaurant nearby, or the free library box around the corner. No one knows these details better than you, the homeowner.

    7. Describe the neighborhood culture

    Think of everything interesting you can about your neighborhood—its proximity to a community pool, street basketball games in the cul-de-sac, the number of dog walkers who gather to chat—and mention them in your listing. The smallest detail can attract a buyer with a teenager, a dog, and kids with swimsuits.

    8. Don't forget to list the house extras

    The motion-sensitive outdoor lighting, an automatic garage door timer that closes the door before dark, a phone-activated security system, or camera door bell... These bells and whistles may seem banal to you, but they can make sellers feel that everything’s been taken care of for them—and inspire a top-dollar offer.

    9. Create a video tour

    Most people get great photos and fantastic descriptions. But filming a video tour of the property is inexpensive, can be done by an amateur, and is a novelty that will draw in buyers, says Bryan Stoddard, owner of Homewares Insider, a site exploring all things related to the home.

    “If the video is well made, it will showcase exactly the same things that an open house would," he says.

    10. Get a home pre-inspection

    Yes, the buyers will want their own home inspection, but getting a pre-inspection so that prospective buyers have a general idea of the property's condition before making an offer is a win/win, says Antonio Picillo III, a broker at Exceptional Home Team in Fort Wayne, IN.

    Home buyers will be impressed you took the time and effort to get your home pre-inspected to make sure everything is tip-top. It shows a level of integrity and commitment that can be hard to find.

  • How Soon Can You Sell a House After Buying? 3 Times to Break the 5-Year Rule


    They don't call it a forever home for nothing. Most of us buy with the intent of staying a long time—sometimes indefinitely. But here's the rub: Things change. Life takes us in a different direction, or the house you fell in love with only a few short months ago somehow becomes your biggest regret. Maybe the neighborhood is changing, or financial difficulties are making it impossible to enjoy your new home.

    ourself asking, “How soon can I sell this house?”—mere months after you moved in.

    But then there's that pesky five-year rule that everyone cites. Basically, it says you should never even consider selling until you’ve lived in the home for at least five years. And it's not arbitrary—there’s good reason for it.

     “Unless it's a superhot market, a seller likely won't even recoup their transaction costs if they sell within a few years of buying,” says James McGrath, real estate broker and co-founder of Yoreevo.

     McGrath, like many real estate professionals, even advises clients to avoid buying a house unless they plan on staying for at least five years, which is the typical amount of time it takes to break even on your initial investment.

    But rules are meant to be broken as needed, and sometimes your situation actually requires you to break them. Here are three times you should say to heck with it all and get out of that house.

    Exception No. 1: Your property value goes way up

    Sometimes the market is so white-hot that it seems like property values jump overnight. This would definitely qualify as one of those times you can get away with ignoring the five-year rule and selling your home, even if you haven’t been in it for long.

    But a lot depends on where you plan to go next. Moving to a lower-cost metro? You’re golden. Staying in the same area? You might not be able to get into a nicer place, or end up paying more money for a home much like the one you currently own. Look around and run the numbers carefully.

    Also, keep in mind this tactic works only if the profit you make from the sale is really significant—otherwise you might see it eaten up by closing costs and a little thing called capital gains tax.

    “Selling a home after owning it for less than a year generates a short-term capital gains tax,” says Denver real estate agent Alex Kishinevsky. “In this scenario, any equity you have accumulated from the sale is subject to taxation as ordinary income, according to the IRS.”

    Exception No. 2: The neighborhood is going downhill

    A bad neighborhood is bad news, and if there's a clear downward trend, you'd best get ahead of it. A declining neighborhood could ruin your chances of a profitable sale in the future.

    Neighborhoods can start spiraling downward for a number of reasons, not the least of which is when something new gets built—or destroyed—and disrupts the quality of life. We’re talking about malls, prisons, factories, and more.

    “How far away are you from the lights and noise it produces? Are citizens concerned about possible pollutants?" asks Benjamin Ross, a Realtor® with Mission Real Estate Group. "Are town hall meetings getting volatile? If the answers to these questions are yes, it may be smart to sell early and take a small loss, versus stay and lose your shirt.”

    Whatever is changing your neighborhood’s landscape, ask yourself if it devalues your home. If the answer is yes, break the five-year rule and get out.

    Exception No. 3: You really hate living there

    Although we keep harping on it, making a profitable sale isn’t the only important thing when it comes to deciding where to live and for how long. Your happiness is also significant. If you really, really hate where you live, then you might just need to get out—regardless of the cost.

    Depending on your mortgage and home insurance policy, you might even consider turning the house into an investment property. A lot of homeowners choose to rent out their homes when the market is less than stellar but they want to stop living there.

    “Allow someone else to pay your mortgage and grow your net worth,” says Seattle real estate agent Tyler Kirages.

    No matter why you’re considering breaking the five-year rule, always keep in mind that listing isn’t the same thing as selling.

    "Put it up and see what you can get,” Ross says. “Just because you list doesn't mean you have to sell. Explore your options by finding real values in a possible deal, and do it if it makes sense."

  • 5 Dire Mistakes People Make Moving Their Pets to a New Place

    Moving involves so many tasks: planning, packing, hiring movers, enlisting emotional and physical help, and lots more. Moving with pets can add even more to your to-do list.

    When we moved a couple of years ago, I never really considered how our two Lab mixes, Coco and Cookie, would handle it. That was a big mistake. I looked up a few tips online and tried my best to put them into practice. But, for the first few days in the new house, my dogs were stressed and anxious, got into fights with each other and barked all the time—all unusual behavior.

    After a couple of weeks, they started to adjust, and their anxiety subsided. But it got me wondering what I could have done to make this move less traumatic for them.

    To help keep your animals calm and safe when moving to a new place, we've highlighted some top mistakes pet owners make in the process. Here are some moves that experts say pet owners should avoid if they want a smooth transition.

    1. Keeping pets around on moving day

    Moving day will probably be chaotic, so boarding pets, or having them stay elsewhere for the day or overnight, is a good idea, says Nicole Ellis, a pet expert and certified professional dog trainer with the online pet sitter and dog walker network Rover.

    Cats can be confined to a specific room in the old or new place to keep them away from the activity, says Mikel Delgado, a cat behavior expert at Rover. She suggests placing a sign on the closed door that reads, “Cat Inside: Please Do Not Open Door,” to prevent escapes.

     We boarded our dogs for a few days during our move, which gave us time to start unpacking and get their things set up before bringing them home. Knowing they were safe and out of the way made the move less stressful. 

     

    2. Washing pets’ things before the move

    Familiar smells ease pets’ anxiety, Ellis and Delgado say. It may seem like a good idea to wash your pets' belongings or buy them new things before a move for a fresh start, but don’t.

    Beds, blankets, toys, litter boxes, and food and water bowls bring the scent of the old home into the new one, and this substantially reduces pets’ stress and helps them adjust, they say.

    Delgado also suggests not packing pets’ items until the last minute, so they’ll feel at home while you’re preparing to move.

    3. Not keeping an eye on them in their new environment

    Once you've moved, Ellis recommends watching your pets closely as they explore their new place—and checking (inside and outside) for possible escape routes. For instance, even if your new house has a fence, “Dogs can jump higher than we are often aware, so keeping them company outside is always safest,” she says.

    She also suggests walking them around the neighborhood one step at a time to ease them into new sights and sounds, which can be overwhelming.

    Another tip: Introduce yourself and your pet to neighbors. Give your number to neighbors and explain that your pets are still adjusting to a new place, so if they’re barking too much, neighbors can politely tell you.

    4. Changing their setup too much

    For cats, “Home turf is everything,” Delgado says. Cats are territorial and feel safest in familiar spaces; moving can cause unusual behavior, such as hiding, fearfulness, and being more vocal. Setting up a “safe room” with your cats' necessary and favorite things for the first few hours, days, or even weeks helps them adjust.

    Once cats get comfortable and are acting like their normal selves, they can be free to explore the rest of the house, Delgado says.

    Ellis recommends arranging beds, crates, and toys as close to the old setup as possible. Giving dogs a sense of familiarity with where their stuff is located makes them feel more at home.

    This is a tip I found online that seemed to work for us. We placed our dogs’ beds next to the couch in the living room of the new home, similar to where they had been in the old home, and put their water bowl in a similar spot in the kitchen. I also didn’t wash their favorite blankets and bedcovers before we moved, even though it was tempting.

    5. Changing your pets’ routine

    Routines are important for both dogs and cats, so sticking to regular feeding schedules, walk times, play activities, and other familiar tasks creates stability.

    “They really rely on their favorite blankets, beds, and scratching posts to feel safe, and routine is very important to cats,” Delgado says.

    Our dogs love their routine. They wake up at 6 a.m. every morning, ready to go outside to use the bathroom and then have breakfast. We kept up this schedule in the new house.

    The bottom line is that settling pets into a new place will take time. How much depends on the individual animal, the pet experts say. Ellis urges pet parents to have medical records, microchip numbers, and current photos on hand, in case a pet gets lost.

    Pets may show signs of stress and anxiety for several days, but there should be signs of improvement, Delgado says. If not, or if pets aren’t eating, call the vet.

     

  • Flat-Rate Movers vs. Hourly Movers: Which One Saves More Money?

    Are you thinking of moving? As the customer, it makes sense for you to review each company and the prices. Flat-rate movers may sound like the best deal. You pay one moving rate, no matter what. But when hiring a moving company, you want to save money, right? Sometimes hiring the flat-rate movers can end up sending your moving costs through the roof.

    It turns out that the whole hourly versus flat-rate moving question largely boils down to the size of your current home and the distance you're traveling. Here's how to weigh each moving company option and decide which one is right for you (the customer!)—plus measures to take to keep the price low and get the best offer in either case.

    When to hire hourly movers

    Here's a sample scenario: If you're moving across New York state to a new home or within the same New York City apartment building, this is considered a local move, and therefore the hourly option is better.

     A price based on time, which can range from $100 to $150 for two or three movers, often starts with a minimum of three hours, plus an hour for travel. A two-bedroom apartment might take three to four hours to move; a three-bedroom house could take seven or eight.

    If you're worried about your moving costs spiraling out of control, ask the moving company whether it can cap the cost for customers at a certain amount, even if the time spills over.

    When to hire a flat-rate moving company

    A flat rate is exactly that—a number that's determined after an in-home or virtual assessment by the moving company of the size of your space and the amount and type of furniture you own.

    A flat rate is typically the right choice if you're planning an interstate or cross-country move, or moving a greater distance, like to a new apartment a couple of hours away, since moving like this contains more unknowns. If your moving truck gets stuck in gridlock traffic, we doubt you'll enjoy paying your movers an hourly rate for this added time.

    But don't be fooled: The flat-rate price or flat offer you get from a mover may not include all the costs associated with your move.

    “In many cases, flat rates are not flat at all,” warns Manuela Irwin, a moving expert with MyMovingReviews.com. Sometimes professional movers will charge unexpected fees for things you might assume are included (e.g., moving furniture up stairs or moving specialty items such as a pool table, piano, or bulky exercise equipment).

    To avoid getting blindsided by hidden company fees or a surprise rate from your movers, it's better to take the time and have an in-home estimate of your move. This way the movers can't say that you hadn't mentioned you have a piano when they saw it for themselves.

    Also be sure to ask the movers or the customer service office if there are any extra fees if they end up moving certain items or providing extra services or spending more time (like unpacking your belongings, hauling away packing materials, or disassembling furniture). The more details you can provide about your move, the less likely it is that you'll end up being surprised by unknown moving charges from the company.

    To get an estimate of how much it will cost to move into your new place, check out this moving cost calculator, where you can punch in your number of bedrooms, beginning and ending ZIP codes, and move date.

    Or use the phone number for your moving company and ask for a free quote. Ask movers about their fees for interstate and local moving so you end up with great service and a (relatively) stress-free move.

     

  • 6 Surprising Things You Never Knew You Had to Do Before the Movers Arrive

    Moving is stressful, so you’d be forgiven if after packing the last box you thought that you were finally done. Now it’s just time to wait for the movers to arrive, right?

    Not exactly.

    Working with professional movers is a great option for people making big moves, moving with kids, or moving large or fragile items that would be otherwise impossible to transport. But while many moving companies do a great job of providing end-to-end service, there are some things that only you can do to make the whole process run smoothly. Here’s our list of six surprising things you’ll need to do before the movers arrive in order to avoid disaster.

     

    . Make a clear path

    Whether you live in an urban apartment or a two-story house in the country, there are bound to be obstacles for your movers. By anticipating these issues before they happen, you can make everyone’s job easier, and possibly even save some money by taking up less of the movers’ time.

    First, you should consider the parking situation outside your home. Where will the movers be able to leave their truck when packing up your stuff? If you do have that house in the country, this might not be an issue. But if you’re living in an apartment or urban area, chances are good that a huge double-parked truck won’t be taken very kindly by the neighbors.

    “If you live in an apartment building or if there is limited parking in your area, ask the movers if they will handle the logistics or if you need to do so,” says Ali Wenzke, author of "The Art of Happy Moving."

    Some moving companies might be familiar with your neighborhood and know how to park in a way that doesn’t raise any red flags with the neighbors. But if they tell you they’d like your help with the logistics, then this will be on you to handle before they arrive.

    “You may need to contact your building manager,” Wenzke says, “or the local city government to get the appropriate signage and allowances.”

    There are other things to consider, too—like the state of your driveway.

    Pat Byrne, operations manager of Long Island–based moving company Moving Ahead Moving & Storage, always asks clients to remove ice and snow to avoid any accidents during the move. You should also make sure the driveway and front access points are clear of debris—like kids’ or pet toys that might pose a slip hazard.

    2. Make necessary reservations and get your paperwork together

    Some apartment buildings might have service elevators available for use. This would be another time-saving question to ask your building manager in advance.

    “See if service elevators can be reserved and whether the building needs any paperwork from movers—like a certificate of insurance,” says Byrne.

    3. Protect your house, including your floors

    To prevent damage to your house during the move, you should be aware of what furniture is going out the door, and anything fragile in its path that might be at risk of breaking.

    “Lightbulbs, fixtures, pictures, mirrors, wall hangings should be removed from the main areas where furniture will be moved,” Byrne says.

    And don’t forget about the hardwood floors. Nothing will put off a buyer more than seeing skid marks illustrating the path your sofa took out of the place.

    “If you have hardwood floors or tile in any rooms, let your movers know ahead of time so they can prepare the right materials—and make sure your contract includes hardwood floor protection,” advises Miranda Benson, marketing coordinator at San Francisco–based moving company Dolly.

    4. Measure!

    On a related note, you'll want to measure your furniture and make sure any large items will fit through the front door in the first place.

     

    5. Pack up the kids (and pets)

    Not literally, of course. But you should take the time to consider where your family will be when the movers are at work. If paying for a space in the nearby pet hotel isn’t an option, at least consider keeping your pets in a safe space within your home.

    “Pets should be kept in a room with everything they need that movers won’t need to access,” Byrne advises. “You’d want to do this even if your pet is friendly, to avoid [their] accidentally getting out of the house or injured.”

    Similarly, young kids should also be kept out of the way on moving day. This is important for their safety as well as the safety of your moving team.

    “The last thing you or your movers want to worry about is whether your 2-year-old's scream is going to shock them at the wrong time," Benson says.

    6. Make yourself available

    Once the family is out of the house, it’s time (drumroll, please) to sit down and relax—sort of. Find a central point in your home (that’s out of the movers’ way) and simply plan on making yourself available to them as they move your stuff.

    Do we mean supervising their every move and reminding them the box is marked “fragile”? Probably not. But you should be around to help answer any questions, or alert movers to anything special they should know about your place.

    “There are little things about your house that you only learn from living there: The hallway closet door never stays closed, the third step down has a slight bend, a pack of hornets tends to congregate around the back door, so use the front—these are all valuable things that make your movers' lives easier,” Benson explains.

    “On top of that, being available to answer questions, whether that's in person or via phone, can make your move much smoother," she adds.

     

     

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