What You Need to Know to Prepare for a Move

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The excitement of moving into your new dream home takes a back burner, temporarily, to the overwhelming feeling of anxiety that packing up the contents your home and moving them all to another location. There is so much involved with a move – so many moving pieces that must be organized accordingly. We hope this guide will help so that you can feel at peace with the process and enjoy your move.


Organization is the key

Being organized is the best thing that you can do to ensure a smooth, flawless move. It’s important to make lists of everything that needs to be done – this includes purchasing packing supplies, packing itself, interviewing movers and securing a date. Make lists for your lists, if need be. Make lists of rooms and items to pack and be sure to keep them in a very secure location. Will you need to hire a cleaning crew to clean your home once it’s empty?

Will you need to hire a cleaning crew for your new location prior to your arrival? Will you be moving from one home to the other on the same day or will you need to arrange for a place to stay for a night or two. Do you have pets that have special needs? Do you have young children? If necessary call the electric company, water company and phone company to have these utilities turned on and put in your name.

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Get rid of unwanted goods

There’s nothing more annoying than unpacking unwanted and unused items. Nevermind the expense wasted on moving these items. Before you move purge your closets, drawers, cabinets, attics, basements and garages. Donate your items to charitable causes. Toss them in the garbage. Pass items off to friends as hand-me downs. Have a tag sale (or garage, or yard sale – whatever you call them in your area.) List them on eBay or Craig’s list. Just get rid of anything you don’t use and don’t foresee using. You will feel so much better when you do, especially when it comes to unpacking!

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Research your moving company

All moving companies are not alike. They differ in many ways. Interview various companies to learn about their fees and their policies. Moving is very expensive.  How much more will it be for them to pack your belongings for you? Discuss with them how much it would cost to pack some, but not all of your belongings.

Ask about their insurance policies and their protocol for storing your possessions in their trucks overnight.  Ask questions, as many as you have. Do they charge per box, per hour, by distance? Get it in writing. Whatever you agree to must be documented in writing. You have a lot at stake.




Packing is the most mundane, most dreaded chore. It’s also the most overwhelming and the most intimidating. Take baby steps. If you have time to plan, the more time you allow to get your packing done, the better. The worst thing you could do is to save it all for the last minute. If you can afford to and would prefer to hire the movers to pack for you, then your stresses will be cut in half. But this is a very expensive proposal. You may want to have the movers packs some items – perhaps your more valuable, fragile items such as artwork, china, silver coffee service. They’re trained to pack well and safely. These items, if packed by the moving company will also be insured. You, then can pack the rest.

Start off by packing up the least used items. Save the items that get used the most for last. Keep very detailed lists of what you’ve packed into each box. This will make unpacking so much easier. Mark each box well. Mark each box on all sides. List the name of the room the box belongs in, and put a number on each box. So therefore, in the Living Room you will have Box 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, the dining room table, chairs and the buffet. You will have one master list for each box, with the contents. This too will make unpacking easier, allowing you to know exactly what is in each box. I highly recommend NOT labeling the contents directly onto each box.

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Packing Supplies

You’ll need packing tape. Lots and lots of packing tape. More than you will ever imagine. Don’t skimp and buy discount here. You want a good packing tape that won’t tear or shred or stick to the roll. You’ll tape your boxes and re-tape and re-tape them. We don’t want the bottoms falling out now, do we? You’ll need bubble wrap, packing paper or newspaper, scissors, bold black markers such as Sharpies and boxes – lots and lots of boxes. When purchasing your boxes do shop around. If you purchase them from your moving company it is likely you will pay a small fortune.

Check out the boxes at self-serve moving companies and office supply stores. Go to your local liquor store. Not only will you welcome a nice stiff drink at the end of the day but there is always an abundance of boxes here that are only going to get tossed anyhow. Think “green” and reuse some of these boxes. Also contact your Realtor or local real estate company. Likely they will know of someone who has just moved and eager to get their moving boxes off their hands. When you move, do the same. Let’s help one another out and keep these boxes out of the landfills!

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Don’t overlook your pets

Pets are very sensitive to moving. They are creatures of comforts and like their known home base. Make this new transition as easy for them as you can. In a well marked box, keep all your pet’s supplies together – toys, beds, medications and anything he will need. Make sure food and snacks or treats are easily accessible, as well as lead, collar and water dish. Help your pet acclimate to the new location -sights and smells, while ensuring there is plenty that he is familiar with. Many pets often run away from new homes in search for their old ones. Keep all external doors closed, and if necessary, locked. If you cannot be in your new home that first night, be sure to have a plan for your pet that includes a place to stay if he can’t be with you.

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Comfort your Children

Involve your children in the moving process. Show them their new home, walk through it and the grounds. Let them have a say in what they might like their bedrooms to look like. Let them get familiar with the house’s floor plan and property. Why not have a picnic lunch there one day? Children love to feel involved and a part of the process. Like pets, they too can feel a sense of homesickness for their previous home. It is therefore important to pack the things that matter to them – their favorite stuffed animals, pajamas, blankets, even a few of their toys.


Pack a suitcase

Pack as though you are going away for a night or two. Have the most important and essential items together in this suitcase – clothes, medicine and toiletries, for example. This way, should you need anything you won’t have to rifle through box after box after box.

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Have an unpacking plan

So you made it. You had everything packed up, loaded into the trucks and unpacked. As if you’re not already exhausted – now you need to unpack everything. Much in the way you had a packing plan, you need an unpacking plan. Thank goodness for those lists you made while you were packing – they will help you greatly in the unpacking process!

Start with what you need first. Start with the rooms that will be used first. Bedrooms – both master and childrens –  take priority here. Have the beds set up and made so that you have someplace comfortable to go to and crash at the end of the day. Have towels placed in bathrooms and your toiletries in place so you can wash up at the end of the day.

Unless you’ve arranged with your cable, internet or satellite provider ahead of time, you may not have a television to watch at the end of the day. Make sure lamps and reading lights are unpacked so you can read in bed… or on the couch… as you make your way around the sea of boxes.

The next most important room would be the kitchen. Start by unpacking pots and pans… tea kettles, coffee makers… the items you will be needing most. You’ll need items for food prep, plates, cups and glasses. Once the most important items have been put away, you can either continue with the rest of the kitchen or move on. I would suggest continuing with the rest of the kitchen – unless, of course, you plan on doing any work to the space. Then it would be wise to take out and use only the essentials.  Once the bedrooms and kitchens are unpacked you can go at your own pace. I would strongly suggest not to move on to the next room unless the one you are working on is all done. If you go back and forth you are more likely to take a longer time unpacking…

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The Best Renters Insurance for 2019

Having the best renters insurance is a crucial protective hedge for preserving all of the things you love about your home. Choosing the right insurance on your own can be overwhelming. Fortunately, we’ve crafted the definitive one-stop guide to finding the very best renters insurance on the market.

Our Renters Insurance Top Picks Are the Following:

Find the Best Renters Insurance Rates

Renters insurance rates can vary greatly depending on where you live, so it is important to compare all of your options. To quickly find the best rates in your area, simply enter your ZIP code below.

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Best Renters Insurance

American Family – #1 Choice for Renters Insurance

After poring over mounds of reviews, customer ratings and speaking with an insurance agent of over 15 years, we found American Family to be the clear #1 choice for renters insurance, according to J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Home Insurance Study of Renters Insurance. American Family’s affordability, paired with its unrivaled customer-service interaction, policy offerings, price, billing processes and policy information, set it apart from the crowd.

In our research, much like with home insurance, we found that local and regional options like state Farm Bureaus can often be the best fit, since these companies offer unique insight into the region they cover. However, for this article we chose to focus solely on national companies, available to the majority of Americans.

Although American Family ultimately shined the brightest, many outstanding companies were in the running. Here are a few that excelled in specific areas.

State Farm – Best for Most People

Although rates are largely dependent on geographic location, State Farm tends to offer better-than-average premium rates in the United States. With a huge share of the market, rock-solid financial standing and low premiums, State Farm is a good option for anyone looking to insure their home at a great price. The only area they seem to fail a bit is customer satisfaction with the claim process. Other than that, they are right up there with American Family.

USAA – Best Overall If You Qualify

USAA is often considered the gold standard for insurance companies. The company boasts excellent add-on coverage, including identity-theft protection and flood protection, something that’s next to impossible to find elsewhere. To take advantage, you must be enlisted or have served in the United States military, but if you qualify, it’s hard to find a better option on the national market. USAA ranks high in all areas of coverage, including the claim process.

Allstate – For Online Resources & Digital Experience

Allstate comes out on top when searching for renters insurance online. For the most part, the premiums are at or below average, but if you live in a high-risk area (for theft, arson, flooding, etc.), the policies can be far more expensive than other companies. Coverage, pricing and customer service all rank high, as does the convenience of online resources. The one place Allstate’s coverage falls short is on electronics, which reimburses $1,000 per item. That means that $5,000 computer and printer won’t be covered for more than $1,000 if stolen. Even so, you can talk to an agent about additional coverage.

Nationwide – Best for Discounts

Nationwide came in below American Family in most areas of coverage. However, Nationwide’s renters policies are top-tier when covering the contents of your home or apartment. They even provide coverage for loss of use — or the out-of-pocket expenses you’ll encounter if you need to find another place to live.

Nationwide has coverage for medical payments to others, personal liability, credit card coverage for unauthorized usage and building additions and alterations. It’s website also does a nice job stating what you need to know about renters insurance. It didn’t outdo Allstate or American Family in those areas, but might give you the cheapest quote thanks to its many discounts

American Family – A Full Review

Whether you’re buying your dream house or renting your first apartment, there’s no place like home — and we believe that’s worth protecting.

In our research, we unequivocally found that American Family offers a fairly standard renter’s policy. But, their optional coverages and discounts are worth noting and quite comprehensive, fully customizable and backed by a solid company. Overall, according to Consumers Advocate, on a scale of 1 to 5, American Family renter’s insurance ranked:

  • 4.0/5 – Coverage Options
  • 4.3/5 – Add-Ons & Discounts
  • 3.5/5 – Customer Service
  • 4.3/5 – Financial Strength


American Family offers all of the standard coverage options you’d expect for a top-ranked company, including liability, loss of use and property damage. They also have a wide selection of policy options and add-on coverages, which include travel insurance, identity theft protection, home based-businesses insurance and pet insurance.

Add-ons and Discounts

American Family Insurance offers a wide range of discounts for customers who opt to bundle their renters insurance with other policies. You’ll also receive a discount if you have been claim-free for at least five years, and started using smart technology, like devices that monitor air quality, fire, temperature, humidity, intruders, etc. You can even qualify for additional discounts if you opt for a preferred method of payment, if you become a loyal customer, or if you have a parent that is also a member of American Family Insurance.

Customer Services

On the topic of customer service and claims, data collected by the NAIC reveals that American Family received less than the national median ratio of complaints regarding their renters/homeowners insurance product in 2017. However, they do only hold an A rating with the Better Business Bureau. This is based on 42, mostly negative, customer reviews. Still, when compared to most other renters insurance companies, Americna Family ranks well within the top.

Financial Strength

Although American Family does not have a financial strength rating with Moody’s Investor Services or S&P global, the company holds an A (Excellent) rating for stable long-term issuer credit outlook and financial strength with the insurance-centered credit rating agency A.M. American Family also has over 8.3 million active members, making them financially stable with a proven ability to fulfill future policyholder obligations.

One customer we spoke with said, “The customer service is great. I even spoke to a real human. My claim was handled fairly and quickly. I really couldn’t have asked for more.”

As with any kind of insurance, we would recommend consulting with a personal agent to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck. In general, talking with an agent about your insurance policy can help you avoid financial pitfalls and find one to fit your individual needs.

Who Should Skip

American Family does not have coverage in every city or state in the nation. And, although their website is comprehensive and easy to navigate, it cannot give you a complete quote. (this is due to so many factors that determine each renters rate, discounts, qualifications, etc.). Therefore, it’s better to consider this insurance company when you have the time to sit down and speak with a local agent. Nonetheless, its comprehensive coverage at competitive prices make American Family our #1 pick.

What made American Family stand out:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Competitive rates across the board
  • Consistently fair payouts of claims
  • Discounts and bundling opportunities
  • Top-of-the-line company with strong financial backing

How We Chose the Best Renters Insurance

We spent more than 50 hours breaking down dozens of reviews and independent ratings to get a grasp on the companies that had the most to offer. We spoke with customers of various firms to get a sense of how large enterprises treat their customers when it comes time to file a claim. Finally, we sat down with an experienced agent to gain insight on the intricacies of purchasing renters insurance, and what to look for in a policy.

Overall, we learned that renters insurance is extremely individualized. Insurance, in effect, is purchasing the peace of mind that your belongings will be protected should tragedy strike.

An important note for any renter to know: Your landlord’s homeowners insurance policy will typically only cover the actual building you live in. This essentially means that everything inside those walls is your responsibility to protect, which is why choosing the very best insurer is a must.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re renting a house or hopping from apartment to apartment to find the perfect fit, your home is your sanctuary. It’s where you live and thrive, and we love helping you make it the best it can be.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all choices for insurance, we (along with many other reviews and reputable companies) believe that American Family is the best overall choice to shield your home and your wallet. Given how regionalized and individualized renters insurance is, we encourage you to speak with local agents and educate yourself on the specific insurance needs of a home in your area.


Interview: G.K. Pippin, North Carolina Farm Bureau insurance agent
J.D. Powers U.S. Home Insurance Study – Renters Insurance (2019): https://www.jdpower.com/business/ratings/study/U.S.-Home-Insurance-Study—Renters-Insurance/10184ENG

Consumer Advocate:

American Family Insurance: https://www.amfam.com/insurance/renters/renters-overview

Dorothy Wilson, American Family customer

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Follow These 4 Tips To Stay Organized When You’re Moving On A Short Deadline

Moving is never easy, but when you have to move quickly, it can feel like a much more difficult task. With that in mind, we’ve brought you four tips on how to stay organized when you’re moving on a short deadline. Whether you’re moving for a new job that’s starting soon or because you want to be settled in time for the kids to start school, these tips will help you keep your cool as you go through the moving process.

Start by making a master to-do list for the move. Shutterstock/kitzcorner

Make a to-do list

Finding out that you need to make a move can be overwhelming, especially when it needs to happen on a tight deadline. That’s why the first thing to do in this scenario is to take the time to organize your thoughts by creating a to-do list. This will give you the structure you need to move through the rest of your move.

Start by doing a brain dump of all the little tasks you can think of related to your move. Include everything you can think of from scheduling movers to buying packing supplies or having a charitable service come pick up donations.
Then, once you’re done, write the list out once more. This time, do your best to put the tasks in a chronological order.

Once you’re done, keep the list close at hand so you can refer back to it during the moving process. Don’t be afraid to add to it any time you think of something new that you need to do. Additionally, remember to check tasks off as you complete them.

Create deadlines to help keep yourself on task. Shutterstock./Brian A Jackson

Give yourself deadlines

Once you have your to-do lists in order, your next task is to give yourself deadlines. Go through the list and create a deadline for each item. If it’s easier, you can work your way backwards from moving day.

If you need to give yourself extra incentive to finish on time, try setting some hard deadlines for yourself. For example, you could schedule your donation pick up for the same day you’ve scheduled to pack up your bedroom. Since other people are depending on you, you’ll be more likely to stay on task.

Make sure you pack in a systematic manner. Shutterstock/archideaphoto

Follow a packing system

As you pack, you’ll also want to follow a system that will help keep you as organized as possible. Every person knows what type of system will work best for them, but we have a few suggestions to help you get started:

  • Start by gathering all the packing materials you’ll need for the room,
  • Use soft items like t-shirts or oven mitts to protect more breakable items
  • Don’t pack your clothes separately from their drawers. Simply secure the drawers closed with and move them as-is.
  • Create a color-coded labeling system with markers that allows you to see where boxes belong with just a glance.
  • Make a list of all the items in each box. That way, you won’t have to go hunting for items that you need when you arrive at your destination.

No matter what type of system you create, consistency is the key. Follow the same system for all of your boxes. Not only will doing so help you become more efficient at packing as the system starts to become second nature, but it will also help you stay organized so you’ll have a better idea of what you’re unpacking when you get to your new home.

Don’t be afraid to hire movers to help get the job done. Image: Shutterstock/levelupart

Consider bringing in assistance

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to bring in assistance if it turns out that getting ready for your move is too big of a job for you to tackle on your own. Many moving companies also offer packing services that can help you get the job done in a fraction of the time of doing it alone. Of course, this assistance does come at an added cost so, just like with any other convenience service, you’re going to want to get quotes and read online reviews before hiring any particular company for the job.

If money is an issue, consider bringing in some of your family and friends to help out with this task. You could host a packing party, where your guests can enjoy food and beverages provided by you in exchange for helping you meet some of the deadlines on your to-do list.

The post Follow These 4 Tips To Stay Organized When You’re Moving On A Short Deadline appeared first on Freshome.com.

Should You Rent Or Buy A House?

Seems like everyone is buying a condo or house these days. And there are tons of shows on HGTV about renovating your home making you wonder: should you rent or buy a house? Can you even afford to buy? We’re here to help you make that decision.

should I rent or buy a house?

Ask yourself some questions before deciding if you should buy or keep on renting. Image: Dirk Ercken/Shutterstock

Should You Rent Or Buy A House? Ask Yourself These Questions First

1. Do you plan on staying where you’re at for at least three to five years? This is an important question. If you don’t like where you live or may have to relocate for work, why buy a house? If you can’t see yourself spending at least three years in your home, you may not see any growth in your home’s value before you have to sell and move. Can’t envision yourself living in the same home or town for at least five years? You may be better off renting.

2. Have you paid off all your debts? Make sure you’ve paid off all student loans, credit card bills and any other loans before buying a house. You’ll need to show you have a low debt-to-income ratio to qualify for a mortgage. And homeownership is scary at first. The last thing you want to worry about is covering loans, a mortgage and household expenses, too.

3. How’s your credit score? If you plan on taking out a mortgage, a good credit score is essential. Make sure you have the best possible score before you start house hunting. For more info on improving your credit score, check out myFICO.

4. Do you have some savings? You’re going to need a good amount of money set aside to buy a home. You’ll have to put down at least 3% as a down payment. And ideally, you’ll put down 20% to save yourself from having to pay monthly PMI (private mortgage insurance) to cover your lender if you stop paying your mortgage. You’ll also need to show you have enough money put aside in an emergency fund that would cover your mortgage and living expenses for at least three months should you lose your job.

If you’re debt-free, settled in your location and have savings, then you may be ready to be a homeowner. Here are five reasons why it’s better to buy than rent:

Your home is likely to grow in value over time. Image: ITTIGallery/Shutterstock

1.  It’s An Investment

Owning your home or condo is usually a good investment. Every payment you make on your mortgage means you’re one month closer to owning your house free and clear. And then there’s home appreciation. Your home will most likely increase in value over time. What you buy today for $250,000 could sell for $300,000 or more later.

2. Tax Write-Offs

Many homeownership costs are tax-deductible. By the time you write off the allowed deductions, you may pay less for owning your home than if you’d rent it. Here are some home items you can write off or deduct from your taxes:

  • Property taxes
  • Mortgage interest
  • Loan points
  • A home office

3. Owning May Be Cheaper Than Renting

Many major U.S. cities are hot right now, making it very expensive to rent. In a hot rental market, it may be cheaper to buy a home, especially if you can live just outside the most sought after zip codes in the area.

4. Privacy

Owning your own home gives you a level of privacy you don’t have when you rent. First off, no more landlord on your back. And your neighbors are hopefully removed enough that you don’t hear every little conversation (or their footsteps upstairs at midnight).

renting vs. buying a house

Owning your own home means you can decorate it however you’d like. Image: Anna Marynenko/Shutterstock

5. You Can Renovate!

The best part of owning your home is that you can finally apply all the skills you’ve gained watching HGTV and reading Freshome to renovate your new home. Decorate in whatever style you love. Paint the walls in any color you’d like — it’s your home.

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Here’s How Much It Costs to Sell Your Home in 2019

Zillow, the real estate database, just released a report showing the hidden costs of selling. So how much does it cost you to sell your house in 2019? Get ready to spend about $21,000. Don’t balk at the cost yet, though. Some of that cost goes toward home improvements and Zillow found that “sellers who make improvements to their homes are more likely to sell for more than their asking price than those who don’t.”

When you’re selling your house, here’s where your money will go:

how much does it cost to sell my house

A large portion of the selling cost goes to closing costs after your home is sold. Image: 

Closing Costs, $14,281 on average

The bulk of the expense in selling your house is the closing costs, which include real agent commissions, sales taxes and state transfer taxes. This figure is an average. The actual amount is a percentage based on the home’s sale price and can vary widely. Here’s a list of average closing costs throughout the U.S. from greatest to least:

San Jose, CA: $76,015

New York, NY: $28,090

Denver, CO: $24,443

Austin, TX: $18,522

Las Vegas, NV: $18,163

Philadelphia, PA: $16,296

Phoenix, AZ: $15,924

Dallas-Fort Worth, TX: $14,580

Tampa, FL: $14,291

Atlanta, GA: $13,286

Houston, TX: $12,342

Cleveland, OH: $9,046

The one positive of this expense is that it doesn’t come out of your pocket upfront. It’s usually deducted from the home sale’s proceeds.

how much does it cost to sell your home

Your house only has one shot to make a first impression, so make it a good one. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

Home Improvements To Get The Home Ready For Sale, $6,570 on average

This amount is the average for sellers who hire professionals for their home updates. For those who wonder how much it costs to sell your house and want all the details, here is the $6,570 in home improvements, broken down by category:

  • Exterior painting: $2,600
  • Home staging: $1,805
  • Interior painting: $1,245
  • Local moving to the new home: $475
  • Full-service lawn care: $145
  • Carpet cleaning: $140
  • House cleaning: $160

Based on these projects, it looks like curb appeal plays a big role in successfully selling your home. If your time and budget are limited, it’s probably best to focus on presenting a clean, crisp home that is nicely but neutrally furnished to appeal to most buyers.

Home improvement costs will vary by market. The report found that sellers in Sacramento spent about $7,800 compared to Phoenix home sellers, who could spend around $4,000 for the same projects. And DIY curb appeal projects may help a home seller save money.

what is the cost of selling my home

Sellers that make some upgrades before listing their house are more likely to sell their home successfully (and for more money). Image: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock

If you’re selling this year, get started on updating your house now. Spruce up your garden and lawn, plant new flowers and freshen up the space both inside and outside with paint. As you get closer to listing your house, start decluttering and storing your personal items so that your house shows best. Don’t forget about the details like clean carpets, walls and windows.

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Home-Buying Millennials are Obsessed with Lawns and Gardens

The U.S. Census Bureau says homeownership is up over last year. In their words, “the national homeownership rate has risen to 64.4 percent.” And Realtor Magazine says that jump is “largely attributed to the rise in new, first-time homebuyers.”

These first-time homebuyers are millennials and they don’t care about a fancy eat-in kitchen. Instead, they’re obsessed with lawns and gardens.

A survey from the National Association of Landscape Professionals found that 79 percent of U.S. homebuyers agree that a spacious and manicured lawn is an important feature in a home. And here’s the kicker: millennials, who currently make up the largest percentage of homebuyers, ranked the lawn as the top priority when house hunting.

landscaping tips for selling your home

Lawns, gardens, patios and outdoor living are the #1 priority for house-hunting millennials. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

Sure — a large, open kitchen and a huge master bedroom with custom his and hers closets are all nice. But for a large portion of the buyer’s market, it’s all about the perfect lawn and a spacious, landscaped backyard.

If you’re listing soon, make sure you set aside some money to make sure your patio and gardens look their best. Here are four quick landscaping tips for selling your home:

landscaping tips for selling your home

Set the stage outdoors with a furniture setting that enhances your outdoor space. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

1. Don’t Just Stage Indoors; Stage A Small Outdoor Setting, Too

Buyers like to envision what their life will be like in your home. Find a spot in your backyard or patio and add a small outdoor table setting or lounge area. Complete the look with hanging lights, an outdoor area rug or colorful outdoor throw pillows.

landscaping tips for selling your home

A fresh, vibrant lawn adds a new home feel to yours. Image: nazarovsergey/Shutterstock

2. Freshen Up Your Turf

If your lawn isn’t the best one in the neighborhood, it may be a very good investment to renew or replace your old lawn before listing your house. A fresh, green lawn looks inviting and gives your home a “new” feeling. Depending on the size of your outdoor lawn area, fake turf may be in your budget and would be a low-maintenance option for year-round green curb appeal.

landscape ideas for selling a home

Planted flowers are an easy way to add pops of colors to your garden. Image: 1000 Words/Shutterstock

3. Plant Flowers

Flowers are inexpensive and easy to plant. They add a splash of color to your garden and last long enough to get your home sold.

curb appeal for selling your house

Add LED lighting to your stairs, pathways and terrace areas. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

4. Add Lighting To Your Garden And Outdoor Spaces

You don’t have to spend a lot on electrical and wiring to light your lawn and garden. There are plenty of solar-power LED outdoor lights that are as simple as inserting a stake into the dirt. Focus on lighting a path, uplighting a large tree and lighting a sitting area or patio table setting.

Even if you’re not selling a home, get ready to embrace the outdoor living trend. Millennials have spoken and it looks like gardening and outdoor entertaining will be hot topics for a while.

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6 Ways to Make a Temporary Living Space Feel Like Home

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Anyone who has moved or built a new home can tell you that the process is anything but seamless. Sure, you might hear from the one unicorn homeowner who made everything work perfectly but, in most cases, moving can be complicated and messy. There might be a gap between when an old home is sold and the new home is ready, or construction completion dates can be delayed. In these instances, a temporary living space might be the only option. Whether it’s moving in with family or a short-term lease, making a temporary situation feel like home can be tricky. If you’re not staying for long, it can be a struggle to get comfortable. But you don’t need to feel like a long-term guest. Make anywhere feel like home with a few genius tips.

Home office decorated with corkboard

A corkboard quickly brightens up a room and keeps it organized. Image: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

1. Utilize Removable Decor

Okay, so you’re not going to paint the walls or refinish the floors. But just because a temporary living space’s decor isn’t exactly your taste doesn’t mean you have to live with it. By bringing in a few removable pieces, you can perk up a space with your unique style. One of the best ways to make a space feel like home is with a big cork board. You can add things like pictures, memorabilia and even cute decor items you’ve picked up for your permanent space. Decorate the cork board and place it prominently and you’ll have a little bit of home.

You can also bring in smaller pieces that you’re planning to put in your permanent place. A couple of lamps or a vase can go a long way in warming up a space and making it feel like you. Just skip the oversized decor pieces. Larger pieces of furniture like couches or tables will just make moving day trickier.

Modern master bedroom

Having fewer clothes helps keep your temporary closet organized. Image: Beyond Time/Shutterstock

2. Edit Your Clothes

A temporary living space can make you feel like you’re a guest, no matter where you’re staying. Living out of a disorganized suitcase or searching through storage boxes to find your favorite shirt only makes it worse. While you might not want to move all of your clothes into a temporary closet, you can make day-to-day life easier by editing your clothing. Consider the season and the stuff you wear the most. Then, choose a week or two’s worth of clothes and accessories and put the rest in storage. Having fewer clothes might not be ideal, but it can help you settle in, hang a few things up and keep your clothes organized and neat. No moving box wrinkles here!

Small kitchen with open appliances.

Keep a few appliances and put the rest in storage. Image: Baloncici/Shutterstock

3. Pick Three Appliances

Some temporary living spaces come with appliances and some don’t. Either way, you can save yourself a lot of headache by keeping your temporary kitchen limited to three or four of your favorite appliances. Choose your most-used kitchen must-haves and limit how much you’ll have to move when it’s time to fly the coop. A few smaller appliances you love can also help you feel more at home in your temporary living space. You might be able to live without your blender or adapt to using someone else’s, but if your morning coffee is your sanctuary, definitely bring your coffee maker along. That way, whether it’s a couple of weeks or a couple of months, you won’t have to do without your favorite cup of joe made just the way you like it.

Mismatched kitchen table and chairs

Temporary furniture doesn’t have to match. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

4. Find Temporary Furniture

Moving is hard on furniture — just ask anyone who’s scratched their favorite armoire in the process. Don’t risk the wear and tear on your favorite pieces by getting temporary furniture in the meantime. While many temporary living spaces come furnished, you can add pieces as you need by checking online for temporary options. Need a nightstand? Check Craigslist or Freecycle for cheap options that you can live with for now. Then, when it’s time to move to your permanent space, you can pass on the pieces to someone else without worrying about scratches or dents. Your real favorites will stay safe in storage and can be moved directly into your new home — no harm, no foul.

Kitchen table with green apples and decor

Use everyday items as home decor. Image: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

5. Keep Decor Functional

A temporary living space doesn’t have to be dreary, but you might think twice about form and function when setting it up. Don’t make extra work for yourself by moving in a bunch of decorative items you’ll just have to move out again. Instead, choose decor pieces that function in other ways. A fruit bowl, for example, adds a much-needed pop of color while keeping healthy options front and center. A cute basket by the front door personalizes a space while helping you keep keys organized in an unfamiliar space. Even a low chest can pull double duty as a coffee table and a place to stash stuff in limbo. Make sure the decor you do bring in can do more than just sit and look pretty.

Living room with pillow accents.

Pillows and blankets are an easy way to warm up a space. Image: Aratzum/Shutterstock

6. Personalize the Space

Your temporary living space might not look like home but there’s no reason it can’t feel like home. Don’t feel guilty about adding a few things that make the space more familiar, even if you’re staying with friends or family. No one will object to a few pictures, of course, but you can also add temporary things. Textiles, like throw pillows or comfy blankets, are a great way to add personality and texture. Or use a candle that you used to have in your old home. The scent will make the space feel more familiar and help you weather the wait between temporary and permanent.

A temporary living space is less than ideal, but it’s important to remember it’s just that: temporary. Even if it’s not a perfect situation, it won’t last forever. Do your best to make a space comfortable and, no matter where you are, it’ll feel a little like home.

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Relocating? Watch for these Neighborhood Red Flags

In a perfect world, every neighborhood would resemble Mayberry. Everyone would know each other by name and your next-door neighbor’s yard would always look as manicured as your own. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a perfect neighborhood and every zip code has its own pros and cons. Still, there’s nothing worse than having home buyer’s remorse just because of your neighborhood. You might love a house, but if it’s in a problematic area, it could affect everything from resale value to the way you live your daily life. If you’re relocating, protect yourself by watching for the red flags that could warn you something’s not right.

Traditional neighborhood with craftsman homes

A mass exodus should be a red flag. Image: romakoma/Shutterstock

Red flag #1: Too much inventory

Having a lot of homes to choose from helps drive down prices. Great for a buyer, right? Actually, it depends. Having a lot of inventory might mean cheaper homes, but it could also mean there’s something causing homeowners to want to leave. It could be the area, but it could also be the homes. Consider some of these reasons a lot of homes might be on the market at once.

  • Homes are hard to maintain. A neighborhood that was developed by the same builder means that when one home starts to have issues, others might have the same. If you notice a bunch of homes by the same builder going up for sale at the same time, it could be a sign of poor quality.
  • Rising social issues. A sudden change in factors like crime rate or school ratings could have people looking for a way out. Gentrification could mean affordable housing is rare, or it could be the result of older residents downsizing in retirement. Consider some of the social issues that could change the way a group of homeowners views their area.
  • Low home values. Sometimes, when home values are poor, homeowners look to test their luck elsewhere before values dip even lower. While this could mean snagging a great deal, it could also mean gambling with future values.

Red flag #2: Shrinking schools

You can tell a lot about a neighborhood by asking a few questions about the nearest schools before relocating. Since schools are typically a reflection of a neighborhood and its attitude toward public services, a shrinking school could be a total red flag. On one hand, it might simply be the result of an aging population. Keep in mind that if you have kids, that means fewer playmates. On the other hand, if the local school is enrolling fewer kids, it might be that parents are opting to utilize private, home or charter schools instead. A less-than-stellar school should give you pause, whether you have kids or not.

Not sure about schools? Check for online ratings for schools in the area or seek out community social media pages where you can ask current and past residents about the specifics.

Traditional brownstone row homes

Watch for pride of ownership. Image: Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

Red flag #3: Poorly maintained homes and yards

It’s no secret that poorly maintained homes equate to a poorly maintained neighborhood, but the issues are more than skin deep. Homes that are left in disrepair and poorly maintained yards tell you something about the level of pride in a neighborhood. When homeowners are proud of their area, they want to ensure their properties do the neighborhood justice. Homeowners that are happy in their area are more likely to keep their homes and gardens looking neat as a tribute to the location. It doesn’t matter if the average home is 1,500 square feet or 15,000 square feet: well-maintained properties are a community effort. If you notice that most homes are in disrepair, steer clear.

Red flag #4: Potholes

Hey, every street has a few cracks and potholes and it shouldn’t be held against your dream home. But when a city or town is lagging in public services, it could be a red flag signaling you to look elsewhere. Look beyond the other houses and your potential property. Does it look like the city takes pride in upkeep and services? Streets that are badly maintained don’t just make for a bumpy drive. It could mean slow snow removal in the winter, a lack of community events or even issues with water. Sometimes, it can even mean that the city is neglecting a certain neighborhood. When you’re at the mercy of city services, it’s important to assess a neighborhood on that level to ensure you’d be getting what you need — when you need it.


A lack of people could mean a dangerous neighborhood. Image: Stephanie A Sellers/Shutterstock

Red flag #5: No people

When you drive through a potential neighborhood, what do you see? If it seems like there aren’t a lot of people out and about, it could be more than just residents who value their privacy. People might limit how much time they spend outside — especially in their front yards — when neighborhoods are unsafe. A lack of kids playing and residents on their porches or even doing yard work should be a red flag that residents don’t feel safe spending time around each other. Sure, you might prefer privacy, but even if you’re not really into community events, you still want to feel safe in your new neighborhood. You can benefit from a safe community by looking for areas where residents spend time around each other, even if they aren’t directly interacting.

When relocating to a new area, you’re definitely focused on a house that can become a home for you. But don’t forget that a large part of the way you live is where you live. A neighborhood might seem innocuous, but some investigation is always needed. While one red flag might be no big deal, a slew of issues could seriously affect your day-to-day. Make sure that a community is safe and civil before you consider relocating and you’ll love your new home that much more.

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These are the Top 5 Moving Mistakes to Avoid

Moving can be a long and difficult process. It’s no surprise that many people make missteps along the way. Luckily, we’re here to save you the pain and frustration that comes with making those mistakes. Keep reading to learn about some of the most common moving mistakes, as well as how to fix them. With these tips you should be able to get through your move without a hitch.

moving mistakes

Don’t go into your move without a plan. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Not scheduling it out

The Mistake: One of the biggest moving mistakes we see is people who think they can just go with the flow when it comes to packing and moving. This leads to packing at the last minute, throwing things in boxes with little sense of organization and an overall unpleasant moving experience.

The Solution: Make a schedule. Before you start packing a single box, write out a schedule of when you will pack and move the items in your home. Start a few weeks out from your final moving day in order to give yourself plenty of time. Then, break the task out into organized chunks. Tackle storage areas first, as they’re often the trickiest things to pack. Then go room-by-room to keep the process organized.


Get all your questions answered before you hire a moving company. Image: JR-stock/Shutterstock

Not asking questions before hiring movers

The Mistake:  Did you know that most moving companies will only insure items that they pack themselves? Important information like that often goes unsaid during the moving process, leaving homeowners in the lurch when something goes awry. Unfortunately, in the craziness of moving, sometimes you make assumptions about a moving company’s process without anyone stopping to check the facts.

The Solution: Ask questions before you hire a moving company – and keep asking them until you’re sure you know the full story. Ask how their process works, if they’re insured, what’s covered under their insurance and what’s not, what excess fees you could incur and what their procedure is in the event of a lost or broken item. Then, once you have a contract in hand, read it over in full so that you know what you’re agreeing to before you sign on the dotted line.


Ask for in-home estimates. Image: Latkn/Shutterstock

Forgoing the in-home estimates

The Mistake: The majority of moving companies will offer you an estimate. However, they usually do these over the over the phone and vary widely. If you forget to mention a large or difficult-to-move item in your initial consultation, your estimate could end up well over the figure that was originally quoted to you. This is one of the more expensive moving mistakes.

The Solution: Ask for an in-home estimate. That way, someone from the moving company can see exactly how much stuff needs to be moved. They’ll also know if any particular items require special consideration. Armed with that information, they should be able to give you an accurate quote. To make sure you’re getting the best possible deal, aim to get estimates from at least three different companies in your area.


Make sure your boxes aren’t too heavy to lift. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Packing boxes too heavily

The Mistake: We understand the impulse to load boxes until they’re chalk-full. After all, fewer boxes means fewer trips to and from the moving van. However, overloading boxes is one of the moving mistakes that isn’t good for you or your belongings. On one hand, it could be an injury risk. On the other, the weight of your items could cause the box to break.

The Solution: Conventional wisdom states that, for your safety and the safety of your items, moving boxes should never exceed 50 pounds. Keep that figure in mind as you pack up your home. Additionally, pack heavier items – especially things like books – in smaller boxes. That way, you’ll have a built-in stop gap.


Check and double-check your inventory sheet before signing off. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Not checking your inventory sheet

The Mistake: At the end of a long moving day, it’s only natural to want to send the movers away as fast as possible so that you can get started on the unpacking process. This impulse often leads to people signing off on their final inventory sheet – a list of everything that the movers moved into your new home – without checking to see that all their items are accounted for.

The Solution: Check and double-check to make sure all of your belongings have arrived safely before signing off on your inventory sheet. If something is missing, make sure that it’s found before signing anything. Your signature releases the moving company of responsibility for lost or damaged items so make sure you have everything you need first.

Do you know of any other moving mistakes to avoid? Let us know in the comments.

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Watch Out, Sellers: Are You Making Any Of These 4 Home Selling Mistakes?

Selling your home can be an emotional process. What makes it even tougher is that it’s also a business decision, one where it’s unwise to let your emotions run the show. Doing so can lead to making a mistake that could potentially cost you your ideal buyer.

With that in mind, we laid out four of the most common home selling mistakes, as well as how to fix them. Read them over to make sure that you don’t fall into any of these all-too-easy traps when it comes time to find a buyer for your home.

home selling mistakes

Be realistic when it comes to pricing. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

Pricing too high

The Problem: We all think our houses are worth their weight in gold. However, when it comes time to sell, it’s important to realize that sentimental value is not the same as fair market value. If you price your home too high, you risk just sitting on the market. The fact is, the way listing searches work these days, buyers are shown homes within a certain range of prices. You need to be in the right range in order to appeal to qualified buyers who will be interested in your home.

The Solution: Look at comparables. These are similar properties that have sold in your area within the last few months. Your real estate agent can pull them up for you. They’ll give you an idea of the right price range for your property.

Taking good photographs is especially important. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Skimping on photographs

The Problem: When selling your home, the photographs are what get people in the door. They’re the first impression that potential buyers get of your home when they’re looking at listings online. Unfortunately, even if your home looks great in person, if it’s captured with bad photos, it won’t even get a second glance. Many potential buyers will pass it over for more photogenic properties, even if your home is ultimately a better deal.

The Solution:  It’s important to make that first impression a good one. If you’re planning on taking the photos yourself, make sure that each room of your home is clean and well-lit before you do so. Then, be sure to capture the room from a variety of angles so that viewers can get a true sense of the layout of your home. Alternatively, go ahead and invest in a professional so you can rest easy knowing you can count on a job well done.


Always stage your home before showings. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Forgetting to stage before showings

The Problem: We know that getting out the door before a showing is hectic. However, if you leave clutter on counters and dirty dishes in the sink, potential buyers may not be able to see past the mess to get a true sense of your home. Ideally, before showings, your home should look staged and newly cleaned in order to leave the best impression possible.

The Solution: Follow our home staging tips to get your home looking its best. Then, before each showing, work on sprucing up a little. Put away any clutter like kids’ toys or pet paraphernalia. Finally, do a few small cleaning tasks like wiping down counters and floors to make sure your home really shines.


Stay open during negotiations. Image: ImageFlow/Shutterstock

Letting your ego run the negotiations

The Problem: Negotiations can be emotionally taxing, especially when buyers try to sneak in low-ball offers. Sometimes, it’s only natural to get a little frustrated. However, when you let your ego take over during negotiations, it can be a recipe for disaster. You may end up passing over or talking yourself out of an offer that would ultimately satisfy your end goal – selling your home.

The Solution: Remember that selling your home is a business deal and try to take a step back from your emotional attachment to the house. Figure out what your priorities are for the sale, whether it’s a bottom line sale price or a certain settlement date, and focus on that. Any offer that gets close to satisfying that priority is worth negotiating. Make sure you’re willing to both give and take.

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