First Time Homeowner? Here’s The Move-In Checklist That Will Save You Stress

Congratulations on your new home! The process can be exciting – but also very stressful. And that’s just the process of buying a home. After the closing, you will probably find you have even more tasks to deal with.

Here’s a short homeowner move-in checklist of things you should make sure you do to smooth over the process. You’ll be surprised at how much easier this makes the moving process.

Start By Taking Time Off From Work

The first week or two in your new place will likely be a mess of repairs, phone calls, unpacking, and of course waiting. Waiting for contractors, internet and phone and cable installers, and deliveries.

Trying to work this in alongside your job is not a good idea. Remember, you just bought yourself a house. This is a big deal! And not something you will do often. Give yourself a break and take some personal or vacation days.

Do As Many Repairs And Improvements As Possible Prior To Moving In

It doesn’t matter whether you’re hiring a pro or doing it yourself. It’s much easier to work on a house when it’s empty. This is particularly true for projects that are best done when there’s no furniture in the way, like refinishing floors, plastering, or painting. I recommend using HomeZada to plan and manage your remodeling projects to prevent them from going over budget.

You should probably do basic tasks like using a multimeter to check the whole electrical system to find out if it needs a repair project. And we would strongly recommend removing the new paint smell before the move. In new construction, new paint can especially can be a bit much.

Set Up Utilities And Change Your Address

To begin with, let the post office know you’ve moved, so that they can start forwarding mail to your new home. Try to start updating your address on all your key bank and workplace benefits accounts, your credit cards, your health and car insurance. Next update your information on your memberships and magazine subscriptions.

At the same time, call the electric and gas companies to let them know you’ve moved. Most will just transfer over your account to the new address.  If you are moving in the same neighborhood or service area, you need to also do the same with your internet or cable provider. If you’re moving outside your region, you’ll want to investigate the local options and call them to set up service when you get settled.

Clean Up (Or Hire Someone)

Before the furniture shows up and you start unpacking, it’s time to clean like crazy. Ideally, you’d hire a house cleaner who can do a one-off deep clean of the house.

You don’t need to be obsessed about cleanliness to see how difficult it is to live in someone else’s mess. This means wash and vacuum carpets (if need be, rent a carpet cleaner or hire out), mop and sweep the floors, bleach the bathroom, clean the bathtub, clean the oven and fridge and sinks, and wipe off all the closets, shelves, drawers, and cabinets.

Have The Locks Changed

Even if you trust the last owner, it’s impossible to say how many house key copies are floating around or who might have them. A new set of door hardware will only cost around $50, and it’s worth the peace of mind. The hardware store will also be happy to make up a few extra copies of your new key for you to give to a trusted neighbor, friend, or relative.

Locate Your Shut-Off Valves

First, there are shut off valves to help deal with smaller, local problems. If the toilet starts overflowing, find the valve that comes out of the floor or sticks out of the wall just under or behind the toilet. If your sink starts leaking uncontrollably, there’s a shut-off under the sink. Similarly, there’s a gas shut off near the dryer or stove. Find all of these and get some familiarity with using them.

Then, and this is crucial, find the main shut-offs. These control the water and gas as it comes into your house from the street. You need to locate these so you don’t have to panic about a busted pipe that’s flooding your kitchen. Similarly, familiarize yourself with the circuit breakers. Different circuits control the electricity to different rooms or different appliances. Notice the main shut off switch is, which can turn off all power to your house in the event of an emergency.

Conclusion

Of course, there are plenty of other things you’ll need to take care of as part of your move — like going to a furniture store or throwing a housewarming party. However, this brief checklist is a good place to start for the most important things you definitely don’t want to forget.

Posted on HomeZada

 

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Your New, Bigger Space: 5 Ways to Win at Upsizing Your Home

What to do with all that new space? Experts weigh in on filling it affordably and thoughtfully.

As a new generation graduates from renting to homeownership, they face plenty of uncertainties: How much homeowners insurance is enough? Is a home warranty necessary? How do you fill a 4-bedroom home with the stuff that used to be in a 1-bedroom apartment?

Transitioning from an apartment to a larger home is always tricky, but making that move — known as “upsizing” — is extra complicated for today’s young home buyers because they’re really going big.

“When Millennials do become homeowners, they leapfrog the traditional ‘starter home’ and jump into the higher end of the market by choosing larger properties with higher prices, similar to homes bought by older buyers,” states the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends. “They pay a median price of $217,000 for a home—more than Baby Boomers, and just 11 percent less than Generation X. The Millennial median home size is 1,800 square feet, similar in size to what older generations buy.”

Many millennial home buyers move from small apartments into 1,800 square feet or more. Photo from Zillow listing.

When you upsize from an apartment into a spacious new home, opportunities abound — plenty of closet space, a yard for the dog, and extra rooms for that home office, spare bedroom, or home gym you’ve always dreamed of.

But once the moving van’s gone and the boxes are unpacked, new homeowners often face the harsh reality of upsizing: The furniture, wall hangings, and knickknacks that fit so perfectly in your small apartment occupy only a fraction of your larger home’s space. And that spare bedroom would be perfect — if only you had a spare bed.

Many new homeowners’ first instinct is to hit the discount stores and buy affordable pieces to fill the space. While budget-friendly furniture has its place, it shouldn’t make up the bulk of your new acquisitions.

There are plenty of ways to use what you already have — and optimize your spending for the things you don’t — to make your new house a cozy home.

Don’t buy things just to fill space

It’s tempting to stockpile new furniture and decorations, but it’s an effort that can easily backfire, according to Jennifer Dwyer, professional organizer and owner of Seattle-based A Logical Mess. Inevitably, the measurements are wrong, or the piece doesn’t match your existing style or decor.

“People naturally want to fill the space, but you really have to consider how you’re going to use it,” advises Dwyer. “Wait until you move in, place the furniture you have already, and assess at that point.”

Start by placing the pieces you have, then decide what to add. Photo from Zillow listing.

It’s OK to sparsely furnish the new place while you get a feel for your new home and the style you’re after. “You can tell when people just go to, say, Pottery Barn and buy what’s on the showroom floor,” says Jason Mathews, owner of Seattle interior design and home staging firm, Jason Mathews LLC.

Prioritize with a special piece

To furnish a large living room or family room, Dwyer recommends investing in a sectional couch. Like a dining room table that expands to seat more people, a sectional sofa pulls apart and goes back together depending on design preferences. And such sofas often have expansion pieces you can buy later to further fill space, adds Dwyer.

Sectional sofa components can be separated and expanded to change the room. Photo from Zillow listing.

Mathews agrees that a sofa is a good investment piece. “It’s something you’re going to use every day,” he says. Furthermore, sectionals pull apart to create more than one focal point in a room — think an L-shaped seating area and coffee table in one part of the living room, and a smaller couch and lamp in another for a cozy reading nook.

Not everything needs to be a statement piece, both Dwyer and Mathews emphasize. Once your sofa is in place, find inexpensive side chairs or perhaps an antique table to repurpose as a coffee table.

Place furniture thoughtfully

Furniture arrangement can make a big space seem smaller. Area rugs are ideal for anchoring furniture groups and making a space feel more homey.

A patterned area rug defines a space within a larger room. Photo courtesy of S+H Construction.

“The great thing about rugs is that they don’t have to be expensive — even a large rug,” Mathews says. He advises centering the rug, then placing furniture on and around it. “Even if the rest of the room is empty, you’re starting out with a cozy spot.”

Homeowners often make the mistake of pushing furniture right up against the walls. But pulling the furniture toward the center of the wall helps minimize an expansive room.

In an expansive room, arranging furniture away from the walls creates natural living areas. Photo from Zillow listing.

“Even just six inches off the wall,” advises Mathews. “It gives the room a chance to breathe a bit.”

Decorate your space

Once you’ve furnished your new home, it’s time to decorate. Items like a standing coat rack in an entryway or decorative vases in a stairwell are classic pieces that also fill space — and they don’t have to be expensive.

“I’m a big fan of T.J. Maxx and Ross,” says Dwyer. “You can play around with ideas, and if they don’t work out, you’re not out a ton of money.”

A few well-chosen decorations give a room a personal touch. Photo from Zillow listing.

Give extra rooms purpose

Empty rooms hold such promise: Will you have a home office? An extra bedroom for visiting families? A place for a treadmill, weight set, and stationary bike?

It’s OK to take some time to think it over — just shut the door if the emptiness bothers you. But whatever you do, don’t use that extra space as a storage room, warns Dwyer, or it will never become anything else.

“Find a home for everything, and don’t leave those boxes lying around,” she says. “If you don’t know where to put it, you probably don’t need it in your new home.”

Posted by Sheila Cain on Zillow

5 Reasons Why Buying an Old House Is a Great Idea

irina88w/iStock

We understand the appeal of moving into a newly constructed home. After all, it’s hard not to be enticed by brand-new appliances, floors, and heating, cooling, and electrical systems. Plus, buying an old place that needs work can be intimidating, especially for those of us whose only brush with restoring a house has come from watching reruns of “Fixer Upper.”

However, home buyers can see all the beauty and potential in older houses. What some view as eyesores, others see as charm—four walls full of history that can’t be duplicated. Besides the nostalgia factor, an old house can be a smart purchase for the sake of your wallet.

Take a look at the top reasons why buying an old house might just be the best decision you’ll ever make.

1. Old homes are cheaper than new homes

What classifies as an older home? In general, if a home does not use or contain modern materials such as high-performance concrete, it qualifies as “old.” Normally, these homes would have been built before 1970.

Shelley Cluff, a real estate broker and owner of Park Place Homes, in Midland, MI, explains that an older home gives you substantially more bang for your buck.

“On average, a comparably sized new construction can sell for 10% to 20% more than an older, updated home,” she says. While newer homes might cost less to maintain, they are also built with different materials such as energy-efficient products that drive up the cost of building them and, by extension, the cost of buying them.

2. Old homes have better-quality construction

The saying “they don’t build ’em like they used to” is generally true. Established houses are built to last, and many aspects of the construction cannot be reproduced today. Older homes might be built with wood made from old-growth trees (trees that attained great age by not being significantly disturbed) and therefore more resistant to rot and warping.

Even the walls are likely different. In an older home they’re probably built with plaster and lathe, making them structurally stronger than the drywall construction of modern homes. These older materials also provide a better sound barrier and insulation.

3. Old homes are often in established locations

When choosing a neighborhood, home buyers weigh a number of factors—including the school district, crime rate, and walkability. If you’re looking at buying an old house, chances are it’s in a well-established, and probably stable, area. This is a good thing. 

4. Old homes have more character

See that mature oak tree towering over the front yard that took decades to reach such heights? You’re not going to get that kind of curb appeal from a new construction.

Some older homes have managed to maintain the amenities that are characteristic of the era it was built in—for example, original crown molding, herringbone-patterned hardwood floors, and built-ins.

While newer homes will reflect the trends of current times, they won’t satisfy other eclectic tastes. Victorian homes with authentic stained-glass windows or a midcentury sunken living room can’t be found in modern houses. While many designers do emulate these characteristics, you might prefer to go for the real thing.

5. Lot size tends to be larger with old homes

Newer homes might come with newer amenities, but on the outside (specifically in the backyard) things aren’t as remarkable. According to data from CoreLogic, new constructions tend to have a larger house with a smaller lot.

“The median size of a new home increased from 1,938 square feet in 1990 to 2,300 square feet in 2016, but lot sizes during this same period decreased from 8,250 square feet to 6,970 square feet.”

In an effort to keep the cost of new homes down and bring in more revenue, homebuilders have favored building larger homes on smaller lots. Why?

“When home prices appreciate at a fast pace, the land value rises even faster, which in turn drives the cost of homes higher,” according to CoreLogic.

So if a big backyard is on your list on nonnegotiables, you’re most likely to find that in an older home.

Posted by Niko Vercelletto on realtor.com

What Would You Sacrifice to Save For Your Next Home? [INFOGRAPHIC]

 

Some Highlights:

  • 95% of first-time homebuyers are willing to sacrifice to make homeownership a reality.
  • The top item that buyers sacrifice is new clothes, at 54%.
  • Even repeat or experienced buyers say they sacrificed taking a vacation or buying a new car to buy their last home.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

9 Necessary Things To Do Before You Move Into Your New Home

Yes, you could paint the walls before you move in. But should you?

Plan a party right away, plus more expert tips that might surprise you.

You’ve signed and initialed on all the dotted lines. The house is yours — no more landlords or leases. Enjoy it. Revel in it. Even spend a night in your new, empty home on an air mattress with a box of pizza before things start to get real (it’s a memory you might appreciate down the road). But when the house honeymoon’s over, there’s work to be done, and certain things belong on a “the sooner the better” list. These nine expert tips offering guidance on what to do before you move into your new home just might surprise you.

1. “Borrow” your real estate agent’s contacts

Who needs friend recommendations when you can use your trusted real estate agent’s list? Most agents have plumbers, electricians, and more that they recommend regularly. “Ask your Realtor for a list of preferred providers so you have it handy in the future when you need something,” suggests Megan Shook, a real estate agent with Mosaic Community Lifestyle Realty in Asheville, NC. “It’s comforting to know you have those contacts if you need them in a hurry.”

2. Wait to paint the walls

Living in your home unpacked for a little while lets you see where the light hits every room at all times of the day. So don’t rush to paint the walls before your things are in place, even if that seems easiest. You may end up choosing colors you don’t love — and then you’ll have to paint again.

The type of light bulbs you use also impacts the paint color, says interior designer Barbara Anderson of Preferred Designs in Rehoboth Beach, DE. “The popular Edison bulbs will change the color hue,” she says. When Anderson meets with a client, she places the paint sample in all four corners of the room. She looks at it in natural light, then blocks the light. But while the walls can wait, your ceilings are another, messier matter. Anderson suggests painting the ceilings before bringing in the boxes and furniture.

3. Add a UV film on your windows

Before you drill any holes or plan where you’ll hang your art, find out where the sun is strongest in your new home. “Sunlight can damage works on canvas and paper over time and fade colors,” advises artist Steven Seinberg. He recommends adding a UV film on your windows. You won’t notice it’s there, but it will offer some protection for your precious artwork and furniture.

4. Plan a party

Scheduling a housewarming party two to four weeks after you move in gives you an incentive — and a deadline — to get all those boxes unpacked. Once the invites are out there, you’re committed. It’s the homeowner’s equivalent of telling a friend you’ll meet her for a Pilates class. In many aspects of life, accountability is key. And if the result is a party in your newly organized house? All the better.

5. Do a doggie meet-and-greet

Before you move in, walk Fido around the neighborhood. It’s a good chance to meet your new neighbors and introduce Fido to his new surroundings. Since your neighbors will then know your doggie by name — and where he lives — they’ll know whom to call if he ever gets out of your yard. (Moving-day pet escapes are all too common!) Consider also handing them a business card with your contact info on one side and your pet’s name on the back. They also might be more forgiving of any early morning yapping if they’ve seen how sweet he is up close.

6. Keep every receipt

Make a folder, get a notebook, and keep receipts for everything. You might be surprised at what’s tax-deductible. Claiming the space for your home office isn’t big news, but don’t forget all the pieces that go with the home office. “Whether that’s an alarm, maid service, cost of electricity … all of those things can be prorated to account for the home-office deduction,” says Kelly Phillips Erb, founder of Taxgirl.com. Erb also suggests looking into deductible home mortgage interest as well as the property taxes paid at closing. “I think that gets missed a lot,” she says. And definitely keep track of all those home improvements. You could get tax breaks for these down the road.

7. Get an energy audit

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save up to 30% on your energy bill by making upgrades identified in an energy audit. “Energy-efficient homes are a win-win for the owner and the environment,” says Shook. During a professional energy assessment, an auditor will identify shortcomings in your home that can be fixed to save energy and lower your bills. To find an auditor near you, ask your local electric or gas companies or search the Residential Energy Services Network directory.

8. Vet the vents

If your home is new construction, be sure to vacuum out the vents (with a hose attachment) before turning on the HVAC. Otherwise, the dust that settled in the vents could be blown out — and into your home. Owners of new-construction homes often report needing to change their air filters more frequently, and this is why. Your builder should have done this too, but it can’t hurt to make sure.

9. Start fresh in the safety department

Replace the batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors immediately. Shook suggests buying a new fire extinguisher as well. At the very least, you’re postponing the inevitable annoyance of dying batteries chirping all at once all over the house. At best, you’re saving lives. “One colleague just had a fish tank pump catch on fire last week at 5:45 a.m.,” Shook says. “Their home had minimal damage due to the detector and the extinguisher!”

 

Posted by Lindsey Grossman on Trulia

 

Daydreaming About Your Perfect Home? Know What You WANT vs. What You NEED

In this day and age of being able to shop for anything anywhere, it is really important to know what you’re looking for when you start your home search.

If you’ve been thinking about buying a home of your own for some time now, you’ve probably come up with a list of things that you’d LOVE to have in your new home. Many new homebuyers fantasize about the amenities that they see on television or Pinterest, and start looking at the countless homes listed for sale through rose-colored glasses.

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen in order to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?

The first step in your home buying process should be to get pre-approved for your mortgage. This allows you to know your budget before you fall in love with a home that is way outside of it.

The next step is to list all the features of a home that you would like, and to qualify them as follows:

  • ‘Must Haves’ – if this property does not have these items, then it shouldn’t even be considered. (ex: distance from work or family, number of bedrooms/bathrooms)
  • ‘Should Haves’ – if the property hits all of the ‘must haves’ and some of the ‘should haves,’ it stays in contention but does not need to have all of these features.
  • ‘Absolute Wish List’ – if we find a property in our budget that has all of the ‘must haves,’ most of the ‘should haves,’ and ANY of these, it’s the winner!

Bottom Line

Having this list fleshed out before starting your search will save you time and frustration, while also letting your agent know what features are most important to you before starting to show you houses in your desired area.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

Is This the Year to Move Up to Your Dream Home? If So, Do it Early

It appears that Americans are regaining faith in the U.S. economy. The following indexes have each shown a dramatic jump in consumer confidence in their latest surveys:

  1. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index
  2. National Federation of Independent Businesses’ Small Business Optimism Index
  3. CNBC All-America Economic Survey
  4. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey

It usually means good news for the housing market when the country sees an optimistic future. People begin to dream again about the home their family has always wanted, and some make plans to finally make that dream come true.

If you are considering moving up to your dream home, it may be better to do it earlier in the year than later. The two components of your monthly mortgage payment (home prices and interest rates) are both projected to increase as the year moves forward, and interest rates may increase rather dramatically. Here are some predictions on where rates will be by the end of the year:

HSH.com:

“We think that conforming 30-year fixed rates probably make it into the4.625 percent to 4.75 percent range at some point during 2017 as a peak.”

Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s Chief Economist:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the 30-year fixed mortgage rate hits 4.75 percent.”

Mark Fleming, the Chief Economist at First American:

“[I see] mortgage rates getting much closer to 5 percent at the end of next year.”

Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist:

“By this time next year, expect the 30-year fixed rate to likely be in the 4.5 percent to 5 percent range.”

Bottom Line

If you are feeling good about your family’s economic future and are considering making a move to your dream home, doing it sooner rather than later makes the most sense.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew