Saturday, November 21, 2015
Moving is hardly ever an easy thing to do. You have so many things to consider and sometimes – so little time. One of the most challenging relocations is downsizing from a house to an apartment. At first it may seem like there is less to do because you have fewer items to pack and move, and therefore the moving cost will be lower. This is a good point, but the process of actually getting there is longer than it is on a regular house-to-house or apartment-to-apartment move. What is the best way to downsize your home and how do you make it happen?
How To Prepare To Downsize Your Home In 3 Steps
Downsizing could be quite of a challenge if you don’t know where to start from, so here is our list which will guide you step by step into this tough process.
De-clutter. You need to begin downsizing your home by removing all the clutter and garbage that you may have inside. Throw away all obvious things like broken electronics, tools which are no longer working, old fashioned staff you’re never going to wear, the broken hose in the garden, etc. which hangs around long forgotten in the attic, garage and basement. In other words, everything that is in front of your eyes around the house and is a must-go anyway.
Attic, basement, garage, garden. The easiest way to continue downsizing is to go through the least used rooms and premises in your home. This could also be the guest room if you have one, for instance. In such places around the house it is easy to store things you don’t want or need in the moment and then forget about them. But they are still there and will not clean themselves up.
Clean up your car. If you have the habit of hoarding things, you may have been leaving things in your car as well. Remember to check the seats and the trunk. Make the downsizing uncompromising – this is what will make it efficient!
Downsizing Your House In 5 Steps
How do you actually decide what is worth taking and why? These ideas will help you take a decision!
Can you use it at all? There may be items in your home that are broken, torn, or worn out. In other words, they do not longer serve you. So, how about just tossing them away? You don’t need all that. When downsizing from a house to an apartment this is the easiest decision to take – throwing away what is actually useless.
Is it old fashioned? If you really care about fashion then this is an important decision to make. Do you have items that are out of fashion like clothes, shoes and accessories? Be honest with yourself. If you haven’t used it for the last two years, chances are you may never do it again. Things that you don’t want in your home and those that are outdated could go away.
Do you have space in your new home for you the things you want to move? Take measurements and consider well!
Is it of emotional value to you? There are items that are dear to us which hold an emotional value like gifts from people we love and cherish. Those could be souvenir or practical things like clothes. Either way, if you really care about it and want it in your next home, pack it and take it.
Do you really need it? There are some things that we actually need and some – that only fill in the space in the shelves, drawers and racks on our home, collect dust and nothing more. You don’t need to pay to move all that, especially if it is something bigger and/ or heavier!
Do you have room for it? It is important to take measures of your future home and decide what will and what will not fit in it. Why would you pay to move your sofa if there is not enough space in the room for it? Make a floor plan of your next home in order to make the estimations right.
What do you do with the things that are in a good condition and can be used but you have decided not to move? You can organize a moving sale and sell whatever you can. You can separate kids’ clothes and shoes, and toys, and donate them to an orphanage. You can just give away some things. Of course, if you still want to keep some things but will not have space for them in your new home, you can always use a storage unit. And remember to choose a mover carefully!
Does downsizing your house still look like a complicated task to you? If you have questions that you want to ask or experience that you want to share, you can make a comment!
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Janet L. Yellen, the Federal Reserve chairwoman, said on Friday that she still expected the Fed to start raising its benchmark interest rate later this year. Source: www.nytimes.com
While I don’t expect a huge increase immediately, I do expect the start of a phase-in process to return to more sustainable levels. What impact will that have on mortgage rates and home values?
The chart below shows how interest rates for the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) and 30-year Fixed Rate Mortgages (30yrFRM) have moved over the past 42 years. Note how they have moved together with the 30yrFRM showing less volatility. The 30yyFRM appears (roughly) to be 1-2% points higher than the FRB. However, today it is more like 4% points. One thought is that the 30yrFRM has stayed higher assuming that the ultra-low FRB rate was only temporary. Therefore, maybe, the 30yrFRM will not rise very much when the FRB does make their move. Then again, the 30yrFRM is at it’s lowest point in 40 years. The 6-8% range for 30yrFRM appears to be more representative of a rate that is sustainable.
How might an increase in 30yrFRM impact the monthly mortgage payment? Here is the impact on a Buyer for a $1.0M home with 20% down, which means a $800,000 mortgage. The monthly mortgage payment for principal and interest for today’s rate (4%) and potential future rates of 6% and 8%:
8% = $5,870 (+54%)
6% = $4,796 (+26%)
4% = $3,819
Now most Buyers won’t be able to qualify for a higher payment. The assumed payment of ~$3,800 is at or near the maximum they can qualify for based on their monthly income. When rates do rise, the most likely option is to reduce the amount they borrow in order to keep the monthly payment the same, which in turn means lowering the purchase price. Here is what happens if we keep the $3,800/mo and 20% downpayment:
8% = loan of $520,000, purchase price of $650,000 (-35%)
6% = loan of $640,000, purchase price of $800,000 (-20%)
4% = loan of $800,000, purchase price of $1,000,000
Therefore, it appears if mortgage rates were to increase 2% points higher, to say 6%, then many/most of the Buyers would need to reduce their target purchase price by 20%. How might this impact home values?
Not dramatically over the next few years. First, the Fed is unlikely todo anything that would “shock” the market. Secondly, there is such strong demand that there is probably plenty of buyers to keep the market going. Lastly, buyers are likely to use lower cost mortgages to cover the initial increase in rates. Below is a chart that shows the current spread between 30yrFRM and lower-cost loans such as Adjustable Rate Mortagages (ARM). An ARM would buy some time, however in this timeframe rates will be expected to continue rising, making it more challenging if they refinance the loan.
The long-term impact may be a deliine on Buyer’s purchase power and downward pressure on home value appreciation. Here in Silicon Valley, the effect will be less than at the State or National level as long as some external event doesn’t slow-down high-tech growth and hiring. I do expect that rising rates will push our hyper-appreciation of 10-15% back to more sustainable levels of 6-10%. Really hard to imagine price going down, just not up so fast.
As to our current home prices – using Mountain View as an example, they are about 13% higher than the average of ~7% annual appreciation over the past 17 years. Doesn’t feel that far out-of-line (to me) given the hyper-growth of Google, LinkedIN and others and the significant reduction in the supply of New Listings.
The continuing decline in the supply of New Listings is also a key factor. It is amazing to me the nearly 40% drop in New Listings today from pre-Great Recession period of 2002-05. This factor alone would result in nearly a doubling in demand and significant upward pressure on prices. One explanation is that 2002-05 was higher than usual due to the bust of the Internet bubble (I remember people leaving Silicon Valley back then). Maybe the supply of 1998-1999 is more representative of the norm.
For Buyers – homes are likely to be more expensive the longer you wait. Prices are expected to rise 10-15% a year for the next two years. On top of that, interest rates are likely to rise, forcing you to lower your target purchase price from today. A double whammy. My belief is that you are best serve by owning a home that will rise and fall in value along with the rest of Silicon Valley real estate, especially if you intend to stay in the Bay Area for some time. The good news is that you can lock-in a mortgage rate that are still unbelievably low.
For Sellers – no immediate rush to sell as prices should keep rising. A word of caution, people are rarely able to “time the market”. If you intend to sell in the next 3-5 years, it may be advisable to sell in a Seller’s market. Media coverage of the Fed deciding to rise interest rates may also cause a mini-shock on market demand, that undermine’s the Seller market. Current tax laws may allow you to exclude up to $500,000 in gains and carry your existing Property Tax base to the next home (if 55+).
Thursday, July 30, 2015
A beautiful city that awaits you.
Philadelphia is the fifth most populous city in the USA and is located in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on the East Coast. The population of the city in 2010 was 1,526,006. It is a beautiful place where you could enjoy history, that attracts plenty of tourist, also history and art museums, huge parkland and so much more. Lots of private and public institutions and plenty of companies – including private and public ones, offer jobs. What is The City of Neighborhoods like? What does it offer to its citizens and what do you need to know before and for your move there? These and more questions will be discussed below.
The Birthplace Of America – What You Need To Know
Why move to Philadelphia?
Philadelphia is a place where you could enjoy all four seasons. The summers are usually hot and muggy. The winter is cold, and spring and fall are mild. Note which period of the year is most convenient for you to relocate to Philadelphia and prepare accordingly. The City that Loves you Back may look unwelcoming in winter when most people prefer to stay at home away from the cold temperatures.
For a happy relocation to Philadelphia, start preparing early - at least a few weeks in advance. And read the tips and advice that we give you for free in The Moving Blog!
The center of economy in Pennsylvania is the so called Cradle of Liberty – Philadelphia. One of the largest metropolitan economies in the USA is the Philadelphia area. The city is one of the largest health education and research centers in the area and if you are looking for a job there, you have plenty of economic areas where you could search for one: financial services, tourism, healthcare, biotechnology, oil refining, food processing, manufacturing, IT, internet providers, insurance, energy sector, chemical makers, pharmaceutical companies, automotive parts retails, and so much more. The sectors that are developing and offering more and more jobs include professional and business services, education and health services, and leisure and hospitality. Most people are employed by the federal and city governments, University of Pennsylvania followed by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – these are the biggest employers in the area. 40,000 new jobs are expected to be added to the city by 2035. If you are a student or you want to study in the city, you can look for moving help here.
Relocating To Philadelphia
If you are looking for Philadelphia moving companies, the best thing to do first is get a quote. It is free and it will give you the information that you need for your move like how much the move will cost you, when is the moving company available, what services do they offer, what budget you will need to prepare for your move. All of these are questions that are basic for a successful move. In order to have a smooth relocation to Philadelphia you need to be prepared with information which will help you take the right decisions.
Another tip that could be quote helpful is to spend some time in preparation before the move. Read some articles regarding the different aspects of the move like packing, moving your pets, how to find out the hidden moving costs of movers, how to avoid the moving stress, etc. We have plenty articles in TheMovingBlog.com which you could enjoy and use for free.
Panorama of The Quaker City
Think of people you know who have moved to Philadelphia or have had a trip there for some reason and talk to them. Collect different opinions and remember that everything anybody says will be subjective. While all opinions will be truthful up to some point, the reality will most likely be somewhere in between. So don’t take for granted anything that anybody will say and check the facts – read statistics or just go there and see for yourself what the place is like. Also, keep up to date with the news and weather forecast here.
You can find a long list with ideas on what to do in this visitor and travel site. Another interesting idea would be to make a trip to the city to find out more yourself. Talk to the locals in the supermarkets for example about the neighborhood and ask about their opinion. And when you are there yourself, you will get a feel for the place, too, and will be able to take a better decision for yourself. If you have a family, try to make a trip together and enjoy Philadelphia for a few days before you take a final decision to move there.
Hopefully this short moving to Philadelphia guide will give you a good start in your moving preparation. If you have more useful and interesting info about Philadelphia, make a comment and share it with us and our readers. Thank you and good luck with your move!
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Preparing the Family for Moving Day
- Pack suitcases for the trip to the new home. Put in some extra clothing for emergencies.
- Consider packing a picnic lunch to eat while traveling. Take along some snacks such as fruit and cookies for the children. Include towelettes for a quick cleanup.
- Arrange for a baby sitter for moving day, or have older children look after the younger ones.
Instant Aid Box
|Easy-open cans of pudding||Coloring books and crayons|
|Dry soup mix||A favorite toy|
|Sandwich spreads||Reading materials|
|Sponge||Paper plates, cups, napkins|
|Paper towels||Plastic cutlery|
|Dish towels||Plastic pitcher|
|Scouring pads||Serving spoons|
|Powdered detergent||Aluminum foil|
|Towels and face cloths||Light bulbs|
|Hand lotion||Assorted nails and screws|
|Non-aerosol deodorant||Shelf paper|
- Check contents of drawers. Remove all spillables or breakables. Soft goods such as blankets, pillows, blouses, shirts and lingerie may be left in drawers. Do not overload drawers by adding sheets and tablecloths because this can damage the furniture during transit.
- Pin clothing to hangers if it will be moved in wardrobe cartons so that vibration or bumps will not cause items to slip off. If your shipment is going to storage for an extended period of time, consider replacing metal hangers with paper-covered or plastic hangers to avoid possible rust damage to your clothing.
- Empty the refrigerator and freezer so that they can dry at least 24 hours before the movers arrive. Be careful not to overlook the defrost water pan. Failure to have the appliances completely dry can lead to mildew, mold and unpleasant odor. A more detailed explanation can be found in the "Moving Appliances & Other Home Furnishings" booklet. Ask for a free copy.
- Be sure the water is emptied from your steam iron.
- Launder all soiled clothing prior to the day the appliance service technician is expected.
- Take the telephone directory with you. It can be useful in contacting former doctors, dentists, etc. It will also be a great help when you make out your holiday card list.
Monday, June 15, 2015
If you’re thinking of moving to Phoenix, Arizona, here are some useful details about the city which should give you an idea as to what this place is like and what you can expect to see and experience once you arrive there.
Arizona Science Center
The Valley of the Sun – a nickname for the Phoenix metropolitan area, is a place which is famous for its high-end resorts, night clubs, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses, warm winter and – of course, lots of sunshine (to begin with). The Salt River Valley, which is also how Phoenix is known, is one of the biggest cities in the USA by land and is also the county seat of Maricopa County. Phoenix is one of the most affordable cities, according to Bloomberg, and the housing there is cheaper, too. So, in case you are wandering whether to buy or rent a place, it is good to know that purchasing a property is an option worth considering. With 1,500 000 people living there approximately, this large city gives you a wide choice of properties.
Phoenix is a cultural center for the metropolitan area and the county, divided into urban villages, which is one of the specific things about the city. So, the 15 villages you could choose between are:
In addition to those urban villages, there are also regions and districts in Phoenix.
There is a lot to see and experience in Arizona, if only you give a chance to the city!
The city lies in the Sonoran Desert and logically, it has a hot desert climate. The winters are short, mild and warm, and the summers are hot and very long. Phoenix has a clear sky and lots of sunshine. More than 90% of the year the days are full of sunshine. This makes Phoenix one of the hottest cities in the USA.
What is typical about the deserts is that they undergo temperature fluctuations during the day and night. But Phoenix is an exception to that rule. The heat through the day is kept in the concrete building, pavements and sidewalks and is radiated at night which doesn’t allow the city to get really cold as deserts do. The air has moisture but there is little precipitation through the year. The least quantities of rain fall in June and the most – in July.
The economy of the city is very important in terms of what job offers are available on the job market. The GDP of Phoenix rises in the recent years. The top economy sectors that develop mostly are real estate, government, tourism, waste management, construction, professional services, retail, wholesale, manufacturing (production of electronic equipment, computers, chemicals, aircraft parts, missiles, processed foods, financial services, and health care. So, you have a wide choice of employment opportunities. You can find a job in sales and related occupations, office and administrative support occupations, food preparation and serving related occupations, training, education, libraries, management, business and finances, healthcare practitioners, technical jobs, production, construction, extraction, transportation, and moving materials. The government also offers lots of jobs because the city is a state capital and a county seat.
Phoenix Moving Companies – Ratings & Reviews
When moving to Phoenix, you should consider well what moving company to choose. This is even more important if you are moving from another state, or if you are relocating a more specific item like a piece of machinery, a piano, large equipment, or an office. Of course, it is much easier to organize a local move than an interstate one.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Are you making a big move in 2015? Before you start packing, take time to crunch some numbers and set a realistic moving budget. We’ve listed five unexpected moving costs below. Avoid sticker shock by considering these costs when calculating your budget.
Packing supplies can be a huge surprise expense if you don’t do your research. Avoid purchasing boxes from standard mailing centers and use a wholesale bulk retailer instead. After selecting your mover, you can purchase packing supplies kits directly on MovingCompanyReviews.com that are specifically tailored to the size of your home. Also, don’t skimp on bubble wrap or packing paper — that extra layer could mean the difference in your items arriving in one piece.
Assuming your movers do a good job, it’s best practice to tip them. The industry standard for a full day move is between $20-$30 per person, or $10-$15 per person for a half or partial day. Assuming you have three workers performing your move, this could add up to an additional $60 or more on top of your basic move costs.
Moving can involve a lot of hiccups, including those that will require you to put your items in storage. Storage costs vary widely by area, so research companies in your new community to find an option that works for you. For a temporary fix, we recommend renting a self-storage unit.
DEPOSITS AND UTILITIES
When planning your move, budget for current utility bills that may overlap with deposits and bills for your new home. This unexpected cost catches many homeowners by surprise and can make the first few months in your new place stressful. If you rent, thoroughly clean your apartment so you receive your full security deposit.
UNEXPECTED MOVING COMPANY FEES
When using a mover, there are several fees that could drastically increase the cost of your move. Read the fine print of your contract so you fully understand each individual cost.
Some surprising fees include:
- Driving charges: Most movers charge for the time it takes to get from their primary location to your home. In most cases, they will charge their hourly rate, or pro-rate it to the quarter or half hour depending on your home’s distance. Ask your mover about this cost if it’s not called out explicitly in the estimate. If there is anything unusual about your location, including nearby construction or closed roads, let them know to avoid paying for the time it takes them to find your home.
- Long-carry fees: You may be charged a long-carry fee if your movers have to carry your items further than their standard “distance limit.” Ask your movers what their distance limit is and if they think it could be an issue. Apartment or city-dwellers beware, as this fee normally results from limited available parking and if your condo or apartment unit is more than a few units away from the elevator and the movers have to carry your belongings down the hallway.
- Elevator fees: If you’re moving in or out of a high-rise, your mover and/or building may . charge an elevator fee. Your building may also charge a move-in/out fee. Make sure to check with your building management before you move.
- Supplies fees: Many movers will wrap your belongings with blankets and tape, and pack your clothing into wardrobe boxes. You may then be surprised with charges for these items on your final bill. Understand the cost for any packing materials before you book your move, and work with your mover to estimate what you need to include in your overall budget.
Monday, January 26, 2015
How to ease your stress, protect your possessions and make relocation an adventure
When new member and retired Navy chief radioman John Hempton received orders to move from Charleston, S.C., to Cape Hatteras, N.C., in the 1970s, he thought the relocation was close enough to skip some of the minutiae of moving, especially since the moving van was to follow a day later.
Imagine his dismay when the van was abandoned by a disreputable driver and not recovered for two months.
"We had to replace everything, even down to underwear and towels, and we didn't even have our important papers like birth certificates," says Hempton. “When we sat down to fill out claim forms for the loss, we had no idea how much we had or what it was worth. It was a nightmare."
Even though most people will never experience what Hempton did, let's face it: Moving is tough — physically, emotionally and financially. Many of us, and more than once, have been stressed out as we stuff all our worldly goods into boxes, discover with dismay how many "miscellaneous" drawers we really have and wonder whether we've adequately cushioned our fragile items.
Thankfully, there are ways you can better prepare for moving day, says Sandee Payne, USAA Home Circle™ spokeswoman. Here are some tips to help you make a smooth move the next time you get your orders or relocate for that new job.
Gather Your Facts and Your Friends
First and foremost, Payne says, is getting your affairs in order and knowing how you're going to physically accomplish your move.
"As soon as you know you're going to be moving, it's important to make sure your paperwork is up-to-date and located together," she says. "As the process goes on, you'll need to know where things are and be able to get them in a timely manner. I tell people to have all personal documents, account numbers, contact info and family records with them."
As you begin packing and planning the move, avoid potential fraud and scams like the one the Hemptons went through by hiring a reputable moving company. Ask how long the company has been in business, check references, and find out the company's standing with the Better Business Bureau.
If you're going to move yourself, don't overdo it. Get plenty of strong, reliable help, and make sure you have the tools to make the job easier, such as furniture dollies, hand trucks and sliders (for moving items across carpet) or carpet pieces (for moving them across flooring).
Do Your Homework on Your New Hometown
For USAA member Connie Summers, the stress of moving from California to Oklahoma involved more than keeping track of documents. It meant uprooting her life and leaving dear friends.
"It's sad leaving everything you know, especially when you're not sure about the place you're going," says Summers.
Reduce such stress by educating yourself about your new town or city, advises Payne.
"Military families tend to get to know other people and establish a sense of belonging pretty quickly," Payne says. "Sometimes that means feeling anxiety about moving again. You can deal with that better by learning what you can about where you're going."
Payne notes that there are resources and individuals who can help you make the transition.
"Having the right attitude is important," she says. "You're not inventing the process of moving to a new place. Others have been where you are now, and you can tap into that experience and expertise."
Among the resources she recommends is USAA's Home Circle, which offers a wealth of information about various locales.
USAA member Diana Braunbeck also found USAA's MoversAdvantage® helpful when she connected with Stuart Nuckolls, a Realtor® who has worked with the program for more than 10 years.
|USAA Makes Moving Easier|
"It's the best program I've seen for helping with the details of moving," says Braunbeck. "So many things were handled through the program, and it really made moving a breeze."
Nuckolls adds that the features members can access through MoversAdvantage are a boon at a time that often is stressful and uncertain.
"A lot of people are surprised at how smooth buying and selling a home can be with the benefits the program offers," he says.
Lighten Your Financial Load
A critical area of concern when preparing to move is your financial state. Start estimating your moving expenses as soon as you know you're going to relocate. Here are some common costs to keep in mind:
- Packing and crating
- Shipping, including vehicles
- Temporary storage
- Utilities (disconnecting and connecting)
- Pet boarding and travel
Although these costs can add up quickly, you can save money by:
- Taking stock: Hold a yard sale to get rid of items you don't need so you won't have to pay to move them.
- Shopping around: Get estimates from at least three moving companies. Try to stay flexible on the move date in case the company offers deals on certain days of the week.
- Finding cheap/free packing materials: Gather moving boxes from grocery stores or do-it-yourself moving companies.
- Doing it yourself: The more you pack, the less you'll pay the movers.
- Protecting your assets: Renters or homeowners insurance policies don't typically cover common damage to goods in transit, and they may have limits on items in storage. If your moving company contract doesn't cover damage from careless handling, breakage or mold, consider purchasing moving insurance to guard against financial fiasco.
- Keeping records: Some moving costs are tax-deductible. Keep all your receipts and track all your expenses.
Remember, moving doesn't have to be a negative experience. By managing tasks and keeping your stress level down, your relocation can be enjoyable and adventurous.