Packing 101: Tips and Tricks to Help Make Moving Day a Breeze

So you’ve decided to make the big move, and now it’s time to put everything in boxes. First you think big-picture (furniture), and then you think small-picture and realize you own much more than you ever imaged. Packing can be a daunting task, but with some extra legwork at the beginning, your unpacking can become a walk in the park.

Labeling Hacks: The worst thing about packing is that once all the boxes are in the truck, there’s no remembering what went where. There are several techniques you can put in place, like numbering your boxes to make sure none go missing, indicating which room the boxes are supposed to go to, or color-coding them to indicate their contents—anything that helps you identify the contents and the destination of your boxes is a go.

Practicality: Make sure that every box is packed as efficiently as possible. For example, plates are better off stacked vertically, and make sure heavy objects like books are packed in something with handles. As for all your baskets and suitcases? Put them all to good use by turning them into more packing boxes. Label cords, or take pictures of the cord setup to make sure you remember what goes where. Pack highly fragile or valuable items to take with you, and make sure to have a bag prepared with all of the things you will need upon arrival. (Don’t leave your shampoo in one of the countless moving boxes!)

Movers vs. Friends: While it is a great money-saver to have your friends help you pack up everything, if you have many valuables, it might be a better option to go ahead and pay the movers. A lot of moving companies are liable for anything that is broken or damaged, so you’ll be able to get reimbursed if anything gets damaged. And while your friends may commit to helping you, emergencies or other eventualities may result in a moving day no-show. A moving company will always have back-up, even if your originally scheduled movers call in sick.

Get in the Right Mentality: Moving has everything to do with being in the right mindset. To achieve that, you first have to make sure you get a good night’s rest. Once you’re well rested, make the commitment to move everything out in one day. Know that loading the truck will take longer than you anticipated, and that things will not pan out exactly as you planned them. Instead, be ready to think creatively as situations arise. Find comfort in the thought that once this day is over, you will be moved into your new house!



How to Transform a Modestly Sized Room into a Palace

This is when having roommates, sharing rooms with siblings or dorm living in college can become handy experience. When you’ve had to make the most of small space or modest accommodations, you may not have realized it, but I bet you learned at least a few ideas that were useful to maximize space later in life. I definitely did.

Even though accommodations typically get grander with maturity, that may not be in every case. Nevertheless, every room in your house should make you feel like you can stretch your arms, take a deep breath and have room to spare. Spacious homes with grand vaulted white ceilings filled with light aren’t in the budget for every homeowner, but creating a space that feels open and airy can be achieved even in the most Lilliputian abode. Decluttering, playing with light effects, and limiting the number of large objects you have in a single room will change how you interact with it and the way it feels.

Declutter

Is every shelf of your bookcase full of random stuff? Can you never seem to keep the clutter down? Finding a proper place for things will help you open up some spaces in your house. Pockets of clutter are everywhere and finding them will make your house feel open. A bookcase shoved full of rubbish will bring a room in a few feet even though it isn’t adding any actual bulk, and knowing that the second you open your desk drawer it will explode with scarves, scraps of paper, and other clutter will limit the amount of space in your house. For much of your clutter, you can ask yourself: Will I use it this month and does it make me happy? If the answer is no, toss it.

Open Space

If clearing out your house doesn’t add the space you want, or if it’s light that makes your home dingy, try playing some tricks with color or mirrors, or just get rid of the dust in your home. You can play with color in your home to add space and depth. White is a great default color because it adds light and goes with everything, but playing with color allows you to carry the eye throughout the room. Painting a room a light shade of green, while doing the ceiling in an off shade will force the eye upward, giving the impression of a higher ceiling. If gem-tones (like emerald, sapphire, or a deep garnet shade) are what you're after, try painting just the ceiling and the far wall in that shade; it adds depth to a room and makes it appear longer. Whatever colors you decide to paint, continue it with a central, simple theme that you can carry around the room. If you decide to paint the walls a very light pastel green, adding accents of pastel green throughout the room will throw the eye and give an impression of space that might be missed with a more complicated theme (like using brocade fabrics, or a multi-color spectrum).

Mirrors are perfect if you need to expand on a small space or just add light to a dim room. There are several key locations for a mirror to be set that may seem counter-intuitive to their purpose. While it might seem most pragmatic to set a mirror right by the door, oftentimes there isn’t enough light there. Placing a mirror opposite a window or in any sunny location will bring more light to a room. You can even place one next to a window as a way of ‘faking’ a window. If your tiny home is extraordinarily well lit but you want more space, placing a large mirror as the centerpiece for a wall can trick someone into thinking there is another room. Just make sure to not place mirrors in direct view of each other in a narrow room. Reflections of a mirror on a mirror will create a shadow and bring the size of the room down.

Limit Furniture

Do any rooms have two desks or is there an extra huge couch in the living room? If those extra pieces of furniture aren’t getting used, they are just space-wasting pieces sitting in your house. Pick one large piece of furniture as a focal point for each room of your house and keep the other pieces small enough to function as satellite pieces. It’s often best that the largest piece of furniture be the thing that is going to be used the most. So if you do more work in the living room than TV watching, consider getting a smaller loveseat and chairs so you can devote more space to the desk. If you have a huge bed in your bedroom, don’t add a large desk in the room unless you take your work home with you often.Take some tips from home stagers to make smart furniture location decisions. Place furniture along walls, but with enough room to walk around to force the attention to a central location in the room. This is best done when each room has a central purpose. If you are designing around multi-purpose rooms, consider easily removable furniture. Like a desk that folds into the wall, or a longer folding table that can be tucked into a corner when not in use. These key furniture decisions will give you more space where it is needed and allow you more room to breathe.Giving yourself an endless amount of space might not be possible in your current home, but you can still get the feel of a large house with these tips

Pros and Cons of a Shared Kids Bedroom

Are you considering having your children share a bedroom? Maybe your current place or new home you’re looking at doesn’t have a lot of room, or maybe you want to save space for other purposes. Like with most decisions, there are both pros and cons for you to weigh:

Pros

More Space Options: Having kids bunk together could free up space to use as a playroom, office or guest room. If you plan on having another child within the next year or so, you could also turn the extra room into a nursery when the time comes.

Sharing: All parents try to teach their children about sharing, and when kids live in the same room, they are encouraged to not only learn how to share a space, but also how to share each other’s toys and other items. The experience could also help prepare children to share space when they have roommates at summer camp or later in college.

Bonding: Living in the same room could inspire siblings to spend more time together and become a team. If your children are young, you might walk in to find them reading a book together. If they’re older, they might confide in their sibling or console each other when something bad happens, thus building a stronger bond.

Sleep: Young children tend to sleep better and feel more secure knowing there’s a sibling next to them in the room, especially if one of your kids is afraid of the dark. This could mean fewer late nights getting up to check closets for the Boogeyman or sleeping in a crowded bed with your child. Also, older children might go to bed–or at least quiet down–quicker if their sibling is an early sleeper.

Cons

Sickness: It’s difficult enough to keep everyone in the family from catching a member’s cold or flu, but it is nearly impossible to prevent siblings who share a room from getting each other sick.

Privacy Issues: Children have little to no privacy when sharing a room, which could lead to frustration and feelings of rejection. Even if siblings enjoy spending time together, that doesn’t mean they’ll want to include each other when it comes to having playdates or sleepovers with friends. Many older children, especially teenagers, also crave privacy and independence.

Clutter: A messy room is bound to be twice as bad when you’ve got two kids throwing clothes and other items around. If your home doesn’t have a separate playroom, a shared bedroom can get cluttered with toys fast. Furthermore, kids’ piles of stuff and necessary furniture tend to get bigger as they get older; the room, however, stays the same size.

Fights: Siblings naturally fight from time to time, but living in a confined space together might intensify or spur more arguments, especially if the kids’ personalities are polar opposites. When sharing a room, children won’t have their own rooms to escape to and cool off.

Decision
Some people believe it’s beneficial for siblings to room together, while some claim it only works when the kids are of the same sex or similar in age. Conversely, others suggest it’s best to give siblings their own rooms whenever possible.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your family and circumstances.

Your Home Sale or Purchase is a Time to Celebrate!

Regardless of whether you are a buyer or seller, there’s no greater feeling than when the papers are signed and the whole real estate transaction is complete. For buyers, it means the beginning of a new life in a new home, and for sellers, it represents a time to say goodbye to the old and move on to the next chapter of their lives. Either scenario deserves a celebration.

It’s not uncommon for a REALTOR® to congratulate the buyer on their new home with a bottle of champagne. If so, don’t just put it in the fridge and save it for a special occasion. You have a new home—it doesn’t get much more special than that.

Order food from your favorite restaurant and pop the bubbly and enjoy a fun, first night in the home with your family. Or invite some friends over for a pot-luck (since you probably won’t have much food yet!) and enjoy the occasion with your first party.

If you have kids, hold a game night in your first week and try to start a new tradition by playing at a certain time in a certain room each week. You can even get a delicious dessert to mark the inaugural event.

For those moving to a new area, it’s hard to have a party since you don’t know anyone yet, but within a week or so, you should be getting to know some neighbors. Celebrate your new neighborhood by hosting a low-key barbecue. Set up some horseshoes or corn hole on the lawn and just enjoy a casual day with those you hope to be your new trusted friends.

For sellers, it’s time for you to celebrate moving on to a new home. If you’ve lived in the neighborhood a while and have a lot of friends, host a get-together at the local bar or restaurant and just ask people to come on by and raise a glass of wine to toast your time there. It’s a great way to say goodbye.

Maybe you have some time before you’re moving to your next place. If so, take a trip and relieve some of the stress that has built up over the time your house was on the market. Visit family or just take a short cruise and unwind.

Remember, being involved in a house sale is one of the most memorable moments of your life and you should take the time to appreciate and celebrate it!


Inexpensive Ways to Add Value to a Home Before Selling It

Your home is your castle. Sometimes, however, it can feel a little less regal than you’d like it to.

Outdated fixtures or not having enough space or light, among other things, can make a home feel tired and old. For about $100 or less, many features of a home can be improved to help add value to a home when selling it.

You won’t be able to expand the dining room on the cheap, but there are some simple improvements that can spruce up a house cheaply and quickly:

Update fixtures
Start in the kitchen, which is one of the first areas home buyers look at. Replace the kitchen sink faucet, replace cabinet door handles or install a new sink if you can find a deal on one.

Bathroom fixtures such as towel racks and toilet paper holders can be easily replaced, and a new toilet seat is cheap.

Lights, air
Replace old lights with a ceiling fan/light combo, or install a nice chandelier in the dining room, for example. These can cost $300 or so, but if you only need to make one change, this is the one that can pay off.

Add storage
Old homes often don’t have much closet space. Buy $100 worth of wire shelves and install them yourself and you’ve got a closet that at least makes the space look organized.

Check leaks and electrical
Hire a plumber or electrician for an hour to check your electrical services and plumbing. They can make sure everything is safe and working properly so that a potential buyer doesn’t find a leaking faucet or broken light switch or faulty outlet.

Carpet
Buying new carpet can be expensive, but an area rug can be just enough to cover an area showing serious wear. Even if you can afford it, installing wall-to-wall carpeting before selling your house isn’t recommended by most real estate agents because the new owners may want to choose their own style.

You can get your carpet professionally cleaned for a few hundred dollars, or maybe less if you can find a coupon. If your carpet is in good shape, a professional cleaning may be all it needs to look in top shape.

Curb appeal
Plant flowers, mow the lawn, pull weeds and sweep the walkway in front of your house. It will give viewers a strong first impression and can be done for much less than $100.

If all of that doesn’t work, bake cookies at home on the day of the home showing.

Hope you found this helpful! Contact me for more insights and info.

Choosing a fence for your property may be a more complex decision than you think. See how different options come across to prospective buyers.

Look out your window. Are you struggling with the sight of a worn-down fence that may not make it past the next storm? If the answer is yes, you may need to do something about it before selling your home.

While fences aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when considering must-have features of a home, they do play a role in how a home is perceived. An old, rickety fence is sure to leave prospective buyers with an unfavorable impression

While you can simply take down the fence and be done with it, it might make more sense to repair or renovate it if you’re looking to promote privacy and curb appeal. A fence can also help delineate property lines, protect the area around a pool, or confine a dog to the yard. It can also function as a security device to keep other people and animals out.

There are plenty of options when it comes to fencing in the 21st century.

  1. Silver-gray chain link: This standard fence is one of the most economical models. While affordability may be your goal, a chain link fence may not come across as appealing to prospective buyers.

  1. Polyvinyl: This option is also affordable and many experts agree that it is more durable and can withstands harsher elements than a chain link fence.

  1. Cedar: This fencing is growing in popularity for aesthetic reasons, although beige boards will weather to a silver-gray color if not sealed or stained.

  1. Traditional wood: While some like the old-school charm of a wooden fence, these fences tend to warp and rot from exposure to the elements or lack of diligent annual maintenance. Wood also requires frequent sealing to keep it viable.

Whatever fencing you decide to go with, just keep in mind that all municipalities have different rules and zoning ordinances in place regarding heights, and some fencing projects even require a permit. And if you’re part of a homeowner’s association, there may be additional rules regarding fencing.

As a last measure, painting an old fence can make it look like new and it is the most affordable course of action. Just make sure to fix any loose boards and remove any nails or pieces of chain as they could become a safety hazard.


5 Signs It's Time to List Your Home

Choosing to sell your home is a big decision, one that requires the careful weighing of a variety of factors. As your local real estate professional, I want to share with you this useful infographic to help you identify five signs that might indicate it is time to sell.

There are ways to save for a home, even if you’re burdened by student loans. Check out these tips!

From student loans to low-paying jobs, saving for future goals, like owning a home, can seem like a pipe dream for today’s younger generation. Financial expert and author Eric Tyson says there are powerful steps younger people can take right now to make the most of their money and save for a brighter future. He says it’s all about adopting a “savings mindset.”

According to Tyson, author of Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s For Dummies®, a savings mindset involves getting the most from your spending while also spending less money in general. It also means living within your means, sticking to a budget and saving as much as you can. Two essential things to remember? Every little bit you save matters, and it’s never too late to start.

Here are few of Tyson’s tips and tricks for saving money that will help build your nest egg for buying a home before you know it.

Consider living with roommates or family. While you’re young and still free of dependents, take advantage of the opportunity to share a rental or live with relatives as opposed to living solo. If living with family, be sure to set expectations, raise concerns and establish costs and rental agreements up front.

Choose a low-cost rental. If you’re living beyond your means, now is the time to dial it back and find a place that fits within your budget. The less you're spending each month, the more you can save toward buying your own place.

Negotiate your rental increases. Some landlords increase their tenants' rent no matter how good the tenant and regardless of the state of the economy. If your local economy is weak and the rental market is soft or your living quarters are deteriorating, negotiate with your landlord. You have more leverage and power than you probably realize. Landlords don't want to lose good tenants who pay rent on time, and filling vacancies takes time and money. Craft a polite note or pay a personal visit to make your case.

Cut your utility bills. Even as a renter, try to keep utility costs low as landlords factor your energy consumption into future rental hike decisions. Adjust your thermostat and wear layers in the winter, and keep your place warmer during summer months. And if you pay for garbage service, recycle as much as possible.

Contribute to a retirement plan. Tucking away money in employer-based retirement plans, such as 401(k) or 403(b) accounts, or self-employed retirement plans is a great way to exclude money from your taxable income.

Use a health savings account. You can reduce your taxable income and sock away money for future healthcare expenses by taking advantage of a health savings account (HSA). HSAs can offer better tax savings versus retirement accounts because, in addition to providing upfront tax breaks on contributions and tax-free accumulation of investment earnings, you can also withdraw money from HSAs tax-free so long as the money is used for healthcare costs. No other retirement accounts offer this triple tax-free benefit.

Learn to cook. Cooking at home as opposed to eating out can save you hundreds of dollars each month, not to mention, keep you healthier as well. Be sure to cook enough so that you can brown bag your lunch with leftovers, too.

Eric Tyson, MBA, is the author of five national best-selling financial books, including Investing For Dummies, Personal Finance For Dummies and Home Buying Kit For Dummies. He has appeared on NBC's Today show, ABC, CNBC, FOX News, PBS and CNN, and has been interviewed on hundreds of radio shows and print publications. “Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s For Dummies” ® (Wiley, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-119-43141-1, $19.99) is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and direct from the publisher by calling 800-225-5945.