by Michelle Jones
At the time of this writing we have just begun the process of relocating our office, and our family, from North Carolina back to Atlanta, Georgia… after 18 years of living all over the southeast! Over the years we’ve learned some helpful things about buying and selling houses and I thought this might be a good time to share just a few of our moving tips with you. If you’re not in the market to buy or sell right now, maybe you know someone who is and might find these tips helpful.
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Moving is never easy but one thing is for sure, my husband and I have lived in some wonderful places throughout the first 20 years of our marriage and there's not a single place we would have wanted to miss! We have met some very precious people all along the way, which brings me to the first tip I have for you…
Keep a Positive Outlook
Whether you have children moving with you or not—and need to remain strong for them, keeping a positive outlook (focus on anything you can come up with that might be good about the move!) can help the entire moving process go more smoothly. I can’t promise you it will alleviate all of your stress, but it will certainly help. Most of us do not enjoy big changes in our lives but they are often full of blessings.
Stay Organized with a Moving Notebook
Keeping all your moving records in one place will not only help save your time and sanity, but it will also help you compare prices on everything you need for a successful move. Some sections to include in your Moving Notebook would be information on the new house you’re buying, the house you’re selling, banking/mortgage information, tax and insurance information, school information for the children, and a section just for contact numbers. You might also include a section of inspirational quotes in the front of the notebook that might help cheer you up on the more stressful days, or maybe just one of your favorites placed right on the front cover.
Buying a New Home
There are just a few things I’d like to mention here, and your realtor may also be a great resource for information such as this. Please note that your situation may be different than ours and you should use your best judgment (as always) when deciding if these tips will help you or not, and it is my hope that they will!
1. Shop around for the best interest rate. If you just accept the first thing your bank tells you, then that’s that. How will you know if it’s the lowest rate they can give you, if you don’t shop around? It's so easy, you can even shop around for the best interest rates on the Internet.
2. Next, it’s always good to pick out three or four houses that you could be happy with so that you have more bargaining options. This way, chances will be pretty good you’re going to save some money and get a better deal!
3. To compare prices of recently sold homes in the neighborhoods of your interest, ask your realtor for a market survey.
4. Allow yourself enough time to look for the right house.
5. Always get a professional inspection of the home (this is usually at the buyer's expense), it's worth every penny.
6. If there is a home warranty protection plan available (the house does not have to be new), we have found it is usually best to purchase one and renew it annually.
Selling Your Home
After looking at over 50 homes for sale for the second time in three years, I have some valuable information for anyone who is trying to sell their home.
1. If your house needs repairs, make the repairs.
2. If your house needs to be painted, paint it.
3. If your house needs new carpet, replace it if you are able to spare the cash--or offer a new carpet allowance at closing.
4. If your house is cluttered, box it up so the rooms don’t look smaller than they really are.
5. If your yard needs some work, tidy it up.
6. Basically, fix everything up nice so your realtor can take pictures inside and out, we don't even look at houses that don't offer pictures, because most of them do.
7. Provide plenty of information about whatever your house has going for it on the marketing sheet; you’re in competition with hundreds and sometimes thousands of other homes. Let buyers know yours is special!
8. And above all, if potential buyers want to view your home with their realtor, do not stay in the house! If you don’t have anything to do then go to the park, go to the library, go to McDonald’s, do anything but hang out in the house waiting for them to leave. Hopefully you’ve already done everything to get your house ready to sell, now you need to let potential buyers have time to look at it!
Several of the houses we looked at in Atlanta also had a stack of information sheets sitting on the table (sometimes including disclosure statements which were very helpful) along with a bowl of candy. It’s not necessary to include the candy but it’s a nice touch that says “Welcome Home!”
One of the best ways we have handled the actual moving process is to get three quotes from local moving companies at least a month or more in advance of the move. Though it is not necessarily the best thing to go with the cheapest quote (you may also get the cheapest service), if you feel one moving company is better than the rest you may be able to get them to match the company that had the lowest bid.
We learned the hard way with our first out of state move that it’s very important to get FULL REPLACEMENT insurance with your moving company. Even still, something always seems to get broken no matter how much insurance we have or how careful the movers are, but it’s certainly much less than the one time we didn’t have it! I’d say maybe one or two things may get broken at most, and the moving company will pay to either fix them or replace them.
Your New Home
When you finally get there, enjoy your new home! Don’t wait for the neighbors to come over and introduce themselves; people use to do that regularly but nowadays they’re afraid to intrude. Give it a day or so and then just pop over on a Saturday afternoon and say hello! Then get some information about your new area and start exploring when you have time so it will feel like home sooner than later.
For us, "home" is wherever we are together, not the house we live in.
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Copyright © 2006 by Michelle Jones. All rights reserved.