Friday, January 29, 2010

Moving Tips: Paperwork..............

Today's Helpful Topic: Paperwork

As if you didn't have enough on your mind during your move! The paperwork that you receive from the mover is a very important part of the move. Be sure to read it carefully before signing and keep it with you during your move.

Your select mover will provide you with an Order for Service. This is a written confirmation of the services that you have requested and it also provides the agreed packing, pick-up and delivery dates. This will require your signature and the signature of the mover. It's crucial that you review this information BEFORE signing.

All movers are required to provide you with a Bill of Lading for the transport of your household goods. This is your receipt for your belongings. The driver who loads your shipment must give you a copy of this before he loads your household goods. it is your responsibility to read and understand this information before you sign it. Do not sign the bill of lading until you are certain that all the information is correct and you agree with it!

The Order for Service and the Bill of Lading also outline the type of valuation coverage you have selected for your shipment. Make sure that these documents list the correct coverage of your shipment before signing.

Although it is not required by law, the majority of movers will complete an Inventory of your belongings before loading your articles onto the truck. A completed inventory provides a detailed listing of your household goods and the condition of each item. Be sure it is complete and that you agree with the drivers condition report before signing this document. It is not unusual for individuals to create their own inventory sheets. However, the drivers inventory is the official documentation for your shipment and all notations for damage or loss must be written therein.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

When is the Best Time to Buy?

For most home buyers, Memorial Day to Labor Day is the time to look. If they have families, this is when they have the most free time and the kids are not in school. Summer time, also known as the Peak Season for purchasing houses is a crazy time. Its a crazy time for realtors, movers as well as financial institutions. The buying process in the summer may take longer than expected and may not go as smoothly as you had hoped. The Summer season also creates a sellers market where the sellers are in control. The buyers are typically trying to buy in the summer and get all moved in before fall so that they are settled when school starts. Well, if you can get through the summer preparing yourself, your family and starting the loan process, Winter is the buyers market. Why? Winter is when there are fewer homes for sale and fewer buyers. With fewer buyers on the market, homes stick around a little longer therefor sellers are willing to negotiate more on their asking price. Another benefit of buying in the Winter is that lenders have more time on their hands due to the fact that there are fewer buyers and sellers. This makes the loan process move a lot more smoothly.

When looking at homes in the Summer, you may not pick up on the little things that need fixing. You may not notice drafty windows or water leaks due to snow melt. These are important issues that you will only find during the Winter season! Home buying is a lot like shopping...... you can always find a bargain after the Holidays!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More Foreclosures Expected in 2010

For some, more foreclosures in 2010 means more affordable housing options, for others this means losing their home. Depending on how you look at it, it may be a positive thing for those first time homebuyers who would not typically be able to afford to buy. One thing that the housing experts can agree on, is that we can expect to see more foreclosures in 2010 and that they may out pace last year. If you are a bargain hunter, now is the time to start looking.

In the month of December, a third of home sales were of "distressed properties" either foreclosures or short sales. "Overall, foreclosures in 2010 will be just as high as we saw in 2009," says Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors. "But the key factor is whether the buyers are ready to purchase distressed sale properties, and right now we are seeing that they are." (More Foreclosures in 2010 Mean Opportunities for Bargain Hunters)

Some people may think that in an area with a high rate of foreclosures that the houses may be more affordable, but in some cases banks are holding on to those foreclosed properties and slowly releasing them to the market to prevent the value of the home from plummeting. In this case, it is important to keep your eyes and ears open for houses that sneak onto the market. Those are the ones that will go fast!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Moving Checklist

Moving can be very stressful, but with the services of CRS and this detailed checklist, moving can be a breeze!

This step-by-step guide takes you from beginning to end of a well-organized, low-stress move.

By Marilyn Lewis of MSN Real Estate

The two best ways to lower the stress of moving are to employ a strategy and start as early as you can. Try this guide to organizing it all!
Before starting to tick tasks off your checklist, take a day to get prepared. Assemble these three key items to stay organized throughout the madness of moving:

1) Calendar
. A calendar is a project manager’s best friend. It allows you to visualize every aspect of your move, says Laura Leist, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers and a certified relocation-transition specialist.

2)A big notebook. Use it to track all your arrangements, phone numbers, thoughts, plans, notes and lists. Attach plastic ziplock bags, pockets and folders. Print out this checklist and put it in the notebook.

3) A locking box. (Available at hardware stores or search “locking box” online). Use this for hand-carrying anything irreplaceable, like important documents, medicines, family treasures and jewelry, since movers’ insurance won’t cover high-value items.

Four to eight weeks to go

4) Eliminate stuff. Severely scale back your stuff.

5) Hire movers.

6) Service appliances. Ask the mover which appliances and equipment will need servicing before moving and after the move, and schedule the work on both ends.

7) Give notice. If you’re a renter, give the landlord 30 days' notice that you’re leaving in writing. Confirm what’s required to get your deposit refunded.

8) Assemble packing supplies. Packing a moving van is far easier with standard-sized moving boxes rather than liquor and grocery boxes.

9) Start packing. Begin with the least-used rooms – garage, attic and basement. Next, attack the living area. Designate one room for all packed boxes. Figure on taking one day per room.

10) Make records. Photocopy important documents that you’re not carrying with you.

11) Help kids plan. Children enjoy keeping their own moving notebooks, writing journal entries and pasting in treasures, photos and mementoes. These can help them with the transition.

12) Contact schools. Give notice and arrange for record transfers. Contact new schools to arrange admissions, learn requirements and transfer medical records and transcripts.

13) Plan the trip. Get maps and directions. If necessary, book hotel reservations, making careful plans for the security of your vehicles and possessions.

14) Gather medical records. Tell doctors and dentists you’ll be leaving and get copies of your records. Ask for paper copies of each prescription to put in your notebook for a backup. Request referrals to providers in your new town.

15) Wrap up loose ends. Return library books and things you’ve borrowed, pick up things you’ve loaned, dry cleaning and items out for repair.

16) Transfer prescriptions. Find a pharmacy near your new home and arrange to have prescriptions transferred. Carry enough medications with you to last two weeks.

17) Get acquainted. Check with the chamber of commerce in your new town. Most have Web sites and many will mail you a new-resident packet with helpful information.

18) Call the DMV. If you’re moving to a new state, contact that state’s department of motor vehicles to learn how soon you must obtain a new driver’s license and register your vehicles.

Two to three weeks to go
19) Change your address. Go to the U.S. Postal Service online or in person to change your address and have mail held or forwarded to your new address. You can designate a date when you want the address change to begin.

20) Prepare pets. If you’re flying, learn what papers, shots and preparations pets will need.

21) Finish packing. Leave only a few clothes and essentials. Clean the garage, basement and attic. Finish any household repairs.

One week to go
22) Assemble supplies. Gather equipment and supplies, including screwdrivers and wrenches, sandwich bags for saving hardware (tape bags to furniture parts), and a digital camera, notepad and pencil for photographing or drawing items to help in reassembling.

23) Think ahead. Pack an “open first” box with essentials needed immediately upon arrival: coffee, filters and a tea kettle or coffee pot, mugs, first-aid supplies, scissors, tape, paper and pens, small toys, crayons and coloring books, towels, rags and cleaning supplies, snacks and a few hand tools.

24) What not to take. Send any valuables you’re not personally carrying to your new address by registered mail. Dispose of gas cans, propane tanks and houseplants, which won’t typically survive a move.

25) Do a walk-through. Double-check every room, including drawers, shelves and closets. Remember the garage and attic.

This is just a taste of things that should be done before a move! To view the full article visit Your Moving Checklist

Monday, January 25, 2010

Existing homes sales in December drop

WASHINGTON - Sales of previously occupied homes took their largest drop in more than 40 years last month yet managed to end 2009 with the first annual gain in four years.
Still, prices plunged by more than 12 percent last year — the sharpest fall since the Great Depression. The price drop for 2009 — to a median of $173,500 — showed the housing market remains too weak to help fuel a sustained economic recovery. Total sales for 2009 were nearly 5.2 million, up about 5 percent from 2008.
Last month's worse-than-expected showing underscores concerns that the housing market could weaken further after March 31, when the Federal Reserve is set to end its program to buy mortgage securities to keep home loan rates low. Once that program ends, mortgage rates could rise. Adding to the worries, a newly extended homebuyer tax credit is scheduled to run out at the end of April.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Southern California reports increased home sales and prices

Los Angeles Times reported yesterday:

"Rock bottom interest rates and stronger sales in higher priced neighborhoods helped Southern California's housing market post robust gains in the typically sleepy month of December, new data show, and experts say the momentum is continuing ushering in an early start the spring home buying season. "

The number of sales in Southern California counties were 22,328 in December 2009, a 12.1% increase over the same period in the prior year. The median price of homes sold increased 4%! Counties included in this report were LA, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernandino, Orange, and Ventura.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Seven Fatal Mistakes Consumers Make When Relocating

Interesting article on mistakes the general consumer makes when moving. All of these can be avoided through using Consumers Relocation Services' Move Management Services. All of these obstacles can be avoided, and will be avoided by using an experienced, Consumers Relocation Move Consultant and by reading our free booklet, Moving Facts.

Article by Wayne Jordan

I continue to read horror stories from consumers about their bad experiences with moving companies. The refrain is always the same: the big, bad, moving company overcharged me, damaged my goods and will not pay up. Well, I have appraised moving damage claims for over 25 years, and I can tell you that the problem is not just the moving companies. Consumers invite problems, because they do not understand the moving process or the terminology. Consumers put more research into buying a new television than they put into being sure that everything they own is moved safely and affordably.
Typically, there are Seven Fatal Mistakes that consumers make when they relocate. A Fatal Mistake occurs when the consumer fails to take action to protect their own interest. These Seven Fatal Mistakes can be avoided. If consumer know where the hazards in the road are, they can be prepared for them when they come.
Fatal Mistake Number One is that consumers have no idea of the value of their belongings. Households are charged according to the weight of their shipment, the value of the shipment, the distance shipped, and what extra services are required. If you do not know what your household goods are worth and what they weigh, how will you know if you are being charged correctly?
Fatal Mistake Number Two is that consumers found their movers on the internet instead of asking for referrals. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that only about a third of all internet moving brokers meet federal registration requirements. That means that two out of three moving companies are operating outside the rules. Yet, most people start their search for a mover online. Yes, there are many reputable companies to be found online. But, find your mover the old fashioned way: ask for referrals.
Fatal Mistake Number Three is that consumers do not research the company they hire. The moving industry is filled with rogue movers who will hijack your goods and hold them for ransom. There are many fly by night operators who simply change their name when the claims and fines pile up. There are companies with terrible safety records and lapses in insurance.
Fatal Mistake Number Four is waiting until the last minute to book your move. You should book your move at least eight weeks in advance, six weeks at a minimum.
Fatal Mistake Number Five is that consumers did not get everything in writing. The rule for a moving contract is this: if it is not in writing, it did not happen. Know what you are signing and what paperwork is needed. Any changes to the original service order must be in writing.
Fatal Mistake Number Six has been an issue on every damage claim I have ever appraised. Do not mess up on this one: check the movers inventory exception sheet thoroughly before signing it. The inventory exception sheet is written in code, so make sure the codes are explained to you before you sign it.
Fatal Mistake Number Seven is signing the delivery receipt before the truck is unloaded. Signing the delivery receipt is an admission that all your goods were received in good condition. You do not know that until the truck has been unloaded and everything has been inspected.
Now that you know where the "road hazards" are pertaining to your relocation, you will be prepared to successfully deal with situations as they come up.
Good luck with your move.
Wayne Jordan is a Virginia licensed Auctioneer, Certified Personal Property Appraiser, and Accredited Business Broker. He specializes in the Valuation and Liquidation of Estate and Business assets. Learn more at his website, or his blog,
Article Source:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Great Blog on Relocating Green!

This super blog is taken from "My Efficent Planet"

Relocating is one of the most stressful events in our lives. What we tend to forget is the stress that relocation has on the environment.
There are many things that you can do – before, during, and after your move – to minimize the impact your relocation will have on the environment. Here’s a list of easy things you can do to make your move environmentally friendly.
Before You Move
• Shed Some Pounds – Whether you’re moving across town, or across the country, now is the time to get rid of the things you don’t need or use. Consider this: every extra pound you put on your moving truck requires that much more energy to move. That means more gas, more emissions, and more money! You can save money – and save our environment – by following these simple tips.
o Sell or donate things you haven’t used in two years. Let’s face it, if you haven’t used it in two years, you probably aren’t going to use it. Now’s the perfect time for a materialistic reality check. Sell or donate your used items. One person’s trash is another peron’s treasure. Remember to keep an accurate account of your donations for tax purposes.
o Books are heavy and bulky. Is that Grisham novel that you’ve read 3 times gathering dust? Donate it and your other old books to your local library, where they can be read and enjoyed over and over by other people.
o Older appliances are huge energy wasters. Newer, Energy Star™ rated appliances are typically much more efficient. Front loading washing machines use a fraction of the water of their older top loading counterparts, and are gentler on your clothes as well – extending the life of your favorite shirts and jeans. Refrigerators, especially older models, can be the biggest energy consumers in your household. Before you move, consider donating old major appliances to your local church or charity, and purchasing more energy efficient models for your new home. Not only will this reduce the amount of energy required to move, but your new energy efficient appliances will give you savings for years to come.
• Location location location: When you’re selecting your new home, take into consideration the daily activities that require you to drive. Choose a home close to daily conveniences, making it easier to bike / walk to the store, dry cleaners, etc. If you walk to the store, you’ll save money, gas, and get great exercise too.
• Downsize : Most of us have twice as much room as we need. And that means that we have twice as much space to heat and cool. Not to mention all of the “junk” we collect to fill that extra space. Consider simplifying your life, and downsizing your living space. You’ll find that it is not that difficult to start using your space more efficiently. Publications like make it easy to stay organized, and live a happier, simpler life.
• Use old newspaper for packing, then recycle it when you get to your new home. Most every town recycles newspaper, while not all recycle packing materials such as Styrofoam “peanuts”. Newspaper is also great for cleaning the windows in your new home!
• Don’t purchase moving boxes. Use recycled card board boxes. They are far less expensive (FREE), just as good as new boxes, and help reduce the impact your move will have on the environment. Your local grocery and liquor stores are great places to get moving boxes. Try to get boxes of uniform shape and size, to make it easier to efficiently load your moving vehicle. And when you are finished moving, recycle your card board boxes. Most every town recycles card board boxes. For items you are planning on storing, consider moving them in plastic tubs. You can reuse these tubs for years to come, or donate them to needy charities. There are groups who will rent you plastic moving tubs.
• Use old blankets to protect furniture. Then donate them to a homeless shelter in your new home town.
• Recycle hazardous materials locally. Don’t throw corrosive or flammable materials away, and certainly don’t dispose of them in your sewage. Contact your local municipality for proper disposal procedures.
• Get rid of that old car. Older cars are less fuel efficient. Most families have more cars than they really need. Why not donate that old car to a local charity BEFORE you move. You’ll be helping a family in need, helping to save the environment, and in some cases you can receive a healthy tax deduction for your donation.
• Sign up with a green utility company. In some communities, you can choose your utility company. Why not select a “green” utility company that uses solar or wind power to generate power?
• Don’t move your food. Plan ahead and eat the food in your house. Donate excess to a local charity. Don’t pay to ship that can of soup across the country.
During Your Move
• Just Do It Once. Moving can be an arduous task that spans the course of several days. But just because it takes several days doesn’t mean that you need to make more than one trip. It may cost a little more for a bigger moving truck to carry your stuff in a single trip, but you’ll save you time, money, and gas by taking one big trip versus several trips. And, believe it or not, it is faster! Your local self moving company can help you select the right truck for your needs.
• Drive 55. Driving the speed limit or a little slower can dramatically increase your fuel efficiency. Keep your engine RPM (revolutions per minute) as low as possible to save the most fuel. Another great tip – turn off the air conditioning in your car. Air conditioning zaps your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
• Use alternative fuels. As you are traveling across the country, consider using alternative fuels such as E85 or biodiesel. Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel produced from domestic, renewable sources. Biodiesel can be used in most diesel engines with little to no modifications.
More likely than not you’ll have a hard time finding pure biodiesel (which has no petroleum) commercially, but you can readily find biodiesel blends. These have anywhere from 5% to 20% biodiesel mixed with traditional diesel fuel.
• Stay in a Green Hotel. If your move requires you to stay overnight in a hotel, look for a green hotel. Green hotels are environmentally-friendly properties whose managers have instituted programs to save water, energy, and reduce solid wastes. Staying in a green hotel is a great way to learn easy ways in which you can reduce your everyday impact on the environment, too. You can find a list of green hotels here:
• Drive a Hybrid. If you are taking a long trip, consider renting a hybrid. Hybrids drive just like any other car, yet they use a fraction of the fuel.
• Fuel your car at night. Ozone requires sunlight to be created. You can reduce ozone by refueling your vehicle at night.
• Carry bottled water with you, and refill as needed. Every bottle of water you purchase has an environmental cost associated with it, such as the cost to ship it, package it, and recycle the packaging. Every time you reuse a water bottle, you are saving the environment. Even better, use biodegradable water bottles (they are made out of corn, not petroleum). After you’re through using them (you can reuse them too!), just recycle them. They will biodegrade in 80 days after you recycle them.
• Take home your hotel soap. Most of us “steal” the hotel shampoo and conditioner. Don’t stop there. Take the soap too. The fact of the matter is that, thankfully, hotels don’t recycle the soap. So if you don’t take it, it gets thrown away. So before you check out, put your soap back in its packaging and take it with you to use at home, or the next hotel.
After You Move
• Shed Some New Light. When you move is the perfect time to upgrade all of your lighting to Compact Florenscent Lightbulbs (CFLs). CFLs use up to 75% less energy of traditional lightbulbs, and last from 7 to 10 years, saving your money every month and reducing our need to build more power plants. The CFL lightbulb equivalent of a traditional 75 watt lightbulb only uses 18 watts, saving almost ¼ ton of coal over the course of 6 years.
If you are moving into a new home, request CFLs before traditional light bulbs are installed. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if every household in just the state of Nevada replaced just one bulb with a CFL, we’d reduce energy consumption in the state of Nevada by 45 million kWh a year. We’d also save $4.9 million in energy costs, while diminishing carbon dioxide emissions by over 69 million pounds. That’s enough energy to light over 24,000 homes for a year. Now imagine how much would be saved if every light bulb in America were changed!
If you cannot afford to change all of the bulbs in your house, change those lights that you use the most.
And don’t throw away your old bulbs. Use them in the places where you use your lighting the least!
• Time to Weatherize. Before you move into your new home is the best time to weatherize. Air leakage and improperly installed insulation can waste 20 percent or more of the energy you pay to heat and cool your home. Typical homes have so many leaks, it’s like having a window open all the time, winter and summer. Worse, these leaks can create mold, when warm air comes in contact with cooler surfaces and condenses. Weatherizing your home will help lower your energy bill, saving you money every year and saving our environment! Consider these easy tips :
o Insulate your windows. Take the time to insulate your windows before you move it. Insulating window film is easy to install, and can cost energy loss through the window by 60% or more. A better option is to install Energy Star rated windows. Either solution will help you save money, and also save your furniture and carpeting from sun damage.
o Make sure that your exterior facing walls are insulated.
o Check for exterior air leaks. Before you fill you new home, take the time to inspect it carefully for costly leaks. Inspect under doors, around windows, and pay particular attention to power outlets on exterior walls. These are the places where the most conditioned air (both warm in the winter, and cool in the summer) escapes. Remember, just a little bit of caulking can fix most all of your air leaks.
o Check for leaks in your duct work. In a typical home 20% of the air that moves through the duct system is lost, due to leaks, holes, and improper connections. You can correct leaks in your air duct system by caulking cracks, applying mastic to all seams of your duct work, and insuring proper use of duct tape at joints. Another good tip is to insulate exposed duct work, helping to maintain the temperature of the air as it passes through the duct system.
o Your Attic Needs Attention. Before you fill your home with furniture, add an extra layer of insulation in your attic if needed.
o Install ceiling fans. Ceiling fans help keep the air in your home circulating, and can make the temperature feel several degrees cooler. Best of all, they use a fraction of the energy of air conditioning.
• Donate to offset carbon emissions of your move. Donating to offset carbon emissions isn’t just for the rich and famous. There are several websites which help you calculate your carbon emissions by channeling your donations to worthy green projects. But just because you are donating to offset your carbon emissions, doesn’t give you a license to be environmentally unfriendly. Remember the basics of environmental friendly living – reduce, reuse, recycle.
• Convert to paperless billing. Utilities, investments, car loans, … almost every company offers online billing and e-statements. This will save paper, and the energy cost to deliver your bills.
• Sign up for an anti-junk mail service. This will help minimize the amount of junk mail you receive, and help save countless trees used to make that junk mail.
• Plant low-water using indigenous plants. Throughout the world we are facing severe water shortages. Much of our water waste occurs in maintaining our landscaping, particularly when we try to introduce foreign plants to a new environment. Using low-water indigenous plants in your landscaping is an easy way to save water. Ideally you want plants that can grow in your environment, with little to no irrigation. The local home improvement center and in some cases local water municipalities can help you determine the best plants for your area. Believe it or not, the choices are not limiting. You will be surprised at how many beautiful plants are indigenous to your area.
• Install low flow shower heads, water faucet irrigators, and toilets. As you know, water is a limited resource. Installing low flow shower heads, water faucet irrigators, and toilets are easy ways to save water every day – without dramatically inconveniencing you. These low flow water devices are inexpensive, easy to install, and can be found at most any home improvement store.
• Insulate your water heater. A lot of heat is lost just from the walls of your water heater. The solution to this problem is simple – a specially designed sheet of insulation known as a water heater blanket. A water heater blanket is an inexpensive way to cut down on your energy bill. You can purchase them at any home improvement store – they cost as little as $30 – and they will easily pay for themselves in the first year. Installation is simple and should only take you a few minutes – just follow the instructions.
• Buy only Energy Star ™ appliances. Appliances with the Energy Star rating have been proven to have met the strict energy efficiency guidelines of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Energy Star is a join program of the EPA and DOE. The program is designed to help us all save money and protect the environment through the use of energy efficient products and practices. A complete list of Energy Star appliances can be found here:
• Buy an Energy Star ™ rated home. Energy Star rated homes have met the strict energy conservation guidelines and building standards of the EPA and DOE. This means that particular attention to detail has been met, helping to insure minimal energy waste such as air leaks and poor insulation. Purchasing an Energy Star rated home may seem like an additional expense, but it can save you quite a bit of money over the years.
• Consider hi-rise living. Hi-rise living has many benefits. Hi-rise condos are energy efficient, offer shared resources that typically are aren’t environmentally friendly (such as pools, and extensive landscaping) , and are usually located more centrally – allowing you to walk or take convenient public transportation to more places.
• Analyze your homes Energy Star ™ rating before you move.
• Have your heating and cooling system serviced. Regularly servicing your heating and cooling system helps save money, energy, and protects your investment. Make sure to specifically ask your repair specialist about other ways in which you can save money on your heating and cooling costs. They are a wealth of knowledge. Remember, if you must replace your heating / cooling system, choose Energy Star ™ rated equipment.
• Cover your pool. Water evaporation is just one of the ways that pools can be very environmentally expensive. An easy way to resolve this is to install a safe pool cover. This will help reduce evaporation, and keep your pool warmer – saving you money on your heating bill. It will also make your pool easier to clean!
• Install solar heating for your pool / spa. Another great way to lower your energy bill is to install solar water heating for your pool and / or spa. Solar water heating has become very inexpensive, and can pay for itself in just a couple of years. Also, it makes it easier to keep your pool and spa heated – allowing you to enjoy your pool and spa more often.
These are just a few things that you can to minimize the impact your relocation and move has on the environment. There are countless other things that you can do! Remember to always use your own best judgment when following any recommendation.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Informative Article on Budgeting for Maintenance when first buying your new home!

Dan Steward President Pillar To Post discusses this important issue.

It’s important for Realtors to remind home buyers that all homes—old or new—need ongoing maintenance.
First, buyers should understand the 1% rule. This rule postulates that normal maintenance on a home is about 1% of the value of the home per year. For example, a $250,000 home would require $2,500 per year to maintain. This would be enough to replace the roof covering…and then, a few years later, to replace a failed hot water tank…and then a few years more until a new central air system is required.
Then there is the 3% rule. Some experts say that home buyers should plan on spending 3% of the value of the home in the first year of ownership. This is because new homeowners will most likely have to buy drapes, blinds, a washer and dryer, a stove, maybe even a new roof covering. Also, new homeowners often customize the environment to their taste, so they need to budget for repairs, replacements and maintenance.
In addition, most home components have fairly predictable life cycles. For example, the typical life cycle of a high-efficiency furnace is 15 to 20 years. What this means is that most high-efficiency furnaces last between 15 and 20 years.
One way to know the extent of the maintenance needed and the costs to repair and/or replace items is to have a home inspection conducted. Home inspectors are required to let the buyer know if a component is significantly deficient or if it is near the end of its life cycle (service life), and a reputable home inspection company may offer up-to-date repair-cost guides to help clients with their planning.
Home inspectors work with Realtors and buyers to help them understand the issues that are found in the home, regardless of age, offering the right perspective and objective information. Home buyers need to understand that it’s normal for items in a home to wear out. This should be regarded as normal “wear and tear” and not necessarily a defect.
A good home inspection determines the current condition of the house, offering a report of all the systems and components in need of maintenance, service, repair or replacement.
For example, consider a home inspection that uncovers that the heating system is old and requires replacement. A home buyer may see this as a huge problem. However, this problem may be the only item in the home that requires attention. If a buyer were to look at this situation in perspective, this home could be well above average—a home merely requiring a new furnace.
A good home inspection provides objective information to help the buyer make an informed decision. Knowing what items need to be budgeted for repair or replacement will help home buyers plan or negotiate better and not be stuck with unexpected costs of hundreds, or even thousands of dollars in the long run. Also, fixing these items will make a marked improvement on the performance of a home and minimize issues that could affect its future integrity…and value.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

National Association of Realtors Launches Public Awareness for Tax Credit

NAR launched a public awareness campaign for the Home Purchasing tax credit that is in place through April 30, 2010. On their site they said;
"Through April 30, 2010, national campaign messages will educate consumers about the extended and expanded home buyer tax credit and urge consumers to contact a REALTOR® to help them realize their dreams of homeownership."
Lets hope that this campaign will have a large impact on jump starting the housing market.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Moving Tips: Full Valuation Coverage

Today's Helpful Topic: Full Valuation Coverage....... what is it?

Through CRS' national account contracts you are provided with the maximum protection for your belongings. CRS movers are contracted to provide up to $75,000 in full replacement valuation on interstate moves at no cost to you (actual coverage is calculated at a rate of $5/lb). If you feel that your shipment is worth more than the maximum $5/lb, you may purchase additional coverage. Be advised that the movers may require documentation proving that the additional coverage is warranted. At the movers discretion, any articles that are lost, damaged, or destroyed will be either repaired, replaced with a like item or a cash settlement will be made for the current market replacement value. The mover retains salvage rights if they provide full settlement on a damaged item. We always suggest that you continue your current personal property coverage through your current homeowners or tenant policy throughout the move. Speak with your insurance carrier about this coverage during your move.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Selling Your House?

Are you trying to sell your house? In this economy, houses are not selling like they used to. Here are some tips to making your house more appealing to the typical buyer:

7 Ways to Improve Your Homes Sell-ability
By Tisa Silver of Investopedia

1) Maintain Neutrality-
xtreme colors and themed rooms can scare off potential homebuyers. If you have customized every room with extremely bright or dark colored paint, wallpaper or wall fixtures, you may want to consider toning it down a bit. Using neutral colors on the walls can help prospective buyers create their own vision for the house, and will also leave them with less work to undo if they buy the house.

2) Less is More-
Even though you have not moved out yet, removing some of your furniture can help the house move off the
market. If you take pictures for your listing, having less furniture can help the home appear more spacious. When potential homebuyers arrive, having less furniture can also provide clear walkways.

3) That New House Smell- Honestly, the new house smell isn't always the most pleasant, but at least it is new. In preparing to show your home, you should avoid strong smells. To avoid odors, make sure to take out the trash and clean the refrigerator regularly. It’s also good to be mindful of what you cook in the days leading up to a showing; certain foods have strong scents. If you have pets, keep an eye on the litter box. Any smell that is too strong could send potential homebuyers running out the door.

4) Pay Attention to the Details- It’s not a good idea to make major renovations when you are ready to sell your home; you may not recoup your investment. If you never got around to starting or completing that total kitchen or bathroom makeover, then you can make some small, inexpensive changes to spruce things up. Replacing the hardware on cabinets is a quick way to improve the appearance of older looking fixtures. Upgrading small items such as light switch and outlet covers can add a nice touch.

5) Maximize your "Curb Appeal"- The front of your home is the first thing prospective homebuyers will see, so keeping it presentable is a must. If there is a yard, keep the grass to a reasonable height and, if there are trees, be sure to keep the branches under control. The path to your front door should be a clear and welcoming one, not an obstacle course.

6) Don't Get Too Personal- Get rid of excess clutter such as newspapers, magazines and mail. Be sure to put away your laundry and shoes. It may also be a good idea to put away some other personal belongings, like pictures on the refrigerator or mantle. For you, the pictures may make a house a home or display your personal touch. For the new homeowner, it may appear too personal.

7) Take Care of Repairs- Waiting to make repairs until after you find a buyer can be tricky. Depending on the nature of the repairs, you may not be able to find a buyer. Depending on how fast the buyer wants to close on the house, you may not have enough time to make the repairs. Save yourself some time and potential trouble by making repairs before you list your home.

First impressions can make the difference between a sale or no sale. Keeping things simple can give you a leg up on similar houses on the market.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Moving Tips: Binding vs. Non-Binding Estimates

Todays Topic: Binding Vs. Non-Binding Estimates

Many movers provide Binding (other terms: firm binding, guaranteed price, etc) moving costs. A binding estimate is an exact cost for moving services. Your final charges will NOT increase or decrease if your final weight is greater or lesser than estimated. A binding estimate covers only the goods and services listed on the estimate and accompanying inventory. If you add items or additional services are required or requested, the mover may void his original binding price proposal by requiring you to sign an addendum to the original contract. You must read what you are signing very carefully. If you have any questions, CRS is here to help! The mover may also require full payment for these additional services at the time of delivery.

Some companies may provide you with a Guaranteed Not To Exceed price (other terms: binding not to exceed, option binding, accuquote, assured price protection, etc). The same rules apply to these estimates as the binding estimates. However, should the actual weight and services be less than the estimate, you pay the lesser amount! Again, your guarantee is based on the items listed in the inventory and the services outlined on the estimate.

Here are some examples of additional services which would contribute to the cost of the move:
- Shuttle (also called auxiliary) Service in the event that your new or old home is not negotiable by a tractor trailer and a smaller truck must be used to transport your belongings from your home to the trailer and vise versa.
- If your estimate was based on limited packing by the mover but more is required at the time of the move.

Non-Binding estimates are not guaranteed. Final costs are based on the actual weight of the shipment and actual services provided at the time of the move. Under a non-binding estimate, the mover cannot require you to pay more than the amount of the original estimate plus 10% at the time of delivery. You are then obligated to pay any additional charges over this amount within 30 days.

Of course, our CRS consultants are here to explain these differences as well as help you choose the right mover for you! So feel free to contact us with any questions! or 800-839-6683

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Helpful Tools for a Succesful Move

One of the benefits of using our move management service is that you receive a complimentary Moving Facts Booklet. This booklet is sent to you within the first week of initial contact with CRS. In this booklet you will find useful information from how far in advance you need to begin planning your move to dealing with damage claims. So just to give you a little peep inside this valuable resource, today's topic from our Moving Facts is Packing Preparation. What some people don't understand is not everything in your cabinets and closets can go on a moving truck! So there is some preparation that needs to be done ahead of time to organize your belongings and get rid of things that you don't need anymore!

Packing Preparation
- Flammable, hazardous, or noxious material may NOT be transported by the movers. This would include: aerosol cans, paints, paint remover or cleaner, fire extinguishers, ammonia, ammunition, etc.
- Propane and butane tanks or bottles are no longer permitted to be transported with movers.
-If you have a car going on the truck, the gas tank should be 1/4 full or less. Any other gasoline engines must be emptied of oil and gas. Gas cans should be washed out to avoid fumes.
- You are responsible for removing any items that you intend to ship[ which are permanently affixed to the ceiling or walls of your home. If you are unable to do so, we recommend hiring someone to do it for you.
- You are responsible for removing items from an attic or crawl space unless there is adequate and safe access for the movers to enter these areas.
- Trash cans, barbeque grills that use charcoal and refrigerators/freezers must be cleaned prior to loading day.
- Disassembly and reassembly of your beds is a standard service provided by the movers. However, if you have any other pieces of furniture that require dismantling and reassembly you should ask the mover about the associated costs.
-When furniture is disassembled be sure to have heavy duty baggies available for the parts and pieces that will be necessary for reassembly of the items. Make sure you or the movers securely tape the baggies to the corresponding piece of furniture.
-The movers will transport plants ONLY under the following circumstances: if the relocation is less than 150 miles, does not involve storage, and the plants require no in transit maintenance.
- If you are moving a computer, contact your local computer store for directions on securing the hard drive and other delicate items for transport.
-Bulky articles such as grandfather clocks, pool tables, large glass tables, sculptures, large paintings etc. will often require custom crating by the mover. Be sure to show any such items to the mover representative.
- Pack a small box with tools (i.e. hammer, Philips head and flat head screw drivers, tape, utility knife, etc.) and keep handy for any last minute needs. This box should also be accessible when you reach your new home.

These are just a few tips for a successful move and our Moving Facts Booklet is packed with useful information such as this!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Homeowner? A Few Things to Consider

Being a new homeowner is a very exciting time and so is the chance to splurge! It's very tempting to want to purchase all new furniture and decorations for your new house, but it is actually the time to be practical. After the expenses of your down payment, closing costs and moving costs, much or your savings has been depleted and even with the new homeowners tax credit, there are still some projects to consider before re-furnishing your entire house!

7 Smart Steps Every New Homeowner Should Take
By Amy Fontinelle of Investopedia

1) Don't overspend on furniture and re-modeling- Think of the new monthly expenses that will accrue as a homeowner; trash, water, snow removal etc
2) Don't ignore important maintenance items- It may not be a big deal now, but to fix a problem in the beginning is cheaper and safer
3) Hire qualified contractors- You may think that you can do it yourself, but to hire someone more experienced and qualified could save you time and money in the long run! The fix or problem is less likely to be an issue in the future if done correctly the first time.
4) Get help with your tax return- You may have done your own taxes in the past, but as a homeowner there are several deductions you may be eligible for. An accountant will be able to maximize your tax return.
5) Keep receipts for home improvement- If you save your receipts from improvements on the home, you can use these costs to increase your home's basis, which can help you to maximize your tax-free earnings on the sale of your home.
6) Don't confuse a repair with an improvement- If you move into a house and have to fix a few broken things, that is considered a repair... not improvement. Yes your house will be worth more after those repairs, but the IRS considers repairs to be part and parcel of homeownership — something that preserves the home's original value but does not enhance its value.
7) Get properly insured- There are several different types of insurance to be purchased when owning a home. Besides the mandatory homeowners insurance, there are other things to consider such as life insurance, disability, and excellent car insurance.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pending Housing Sales Down...... But Looking Up

As the First-Time Homebuyers tax credit has been extended, the numbers show that people on the market for a new house are holding out. According to the Associated Press and the National Association of Realtors, the seasonally adjusted index of sales agreements dropped 16% in November. Many individuals that were under contract to purchase previously occupied homes opted out and have decided to take their time. The extension of the tax credit has been a positive thing for those looking to purchase a house, and they may be thinking that the housing prices haven't hit rock bottom yet so they are holding out for lower prices. But as our economy begins to build itself back up, now is the time to buy as interest rates may begin to creep up as well. So if there is any time to buy, now is that time! Some economists have predicted that home sales will remain steady through the winter and come early spring, we will see a notable gain in sales.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Better Business Bureau Certificate of No Complaints

We just received our year end Certificate from the Better Business Bureau for 2009! This certificate is for Consumers Relocation's record of being complaint free for the last 36 months. During that period we have worked with over 10,000 customers moving throughout the United States and internationally. We enjoy an A+ rating with the BBB! Our Service Evaluations completed by each customer show that over 98% would recommend our services to a friend! Consumers Relocation is proud to provide premier Move Management Services to thousands of families moving each year while saving them substantially on the cost of their moves. The nations largest associations offer our services to their members, large real estate companies offer our services to their customers and clients, small to mid sized companies use us for their lump sum and in house relocation programs, and word of mouth and repeat customers are an increasing percent of our business.

Check us out at