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Unpack With a Plan


Once everything is unloaded, you may feel overwhelmed by the stacks of boxes surrounding you. Unpacking in an organized manner can make the transition to your new home less stressful and can save a lot of time. Try these unpacking tips, courtesy of Lowe’s.

1. Unpack Essentials First

You should have a few boxes of essentials marked to be unpacked first. These boxes should include items like toiletries, pet supplies, tools, a couple changes of clothes and so forth. Go ahead and unpack these boxes right away and distribute these essential items to their respective rooms.

2. Clean and Prep Your New Home

Though it's tempting to dive right in and start unloading boxes, it's a good idea to clean, prep and get organized. Here are some moving tips to help you prepare to unpack at your new home:

• It's easier to wipe down shelves, clean windows, and mop under appliances before your belongings are in place.

• Complete any prep work. Line kitchen and bathroom shelves with paper. Consider installing closet systems in bedroom closets, if necessary. Once these jobs are done, you'll be able to unpack more efficiently.

• Plan where to place certain items. For example, in the kitchen; put dishes and glassware in the cupboards above the dishwasher, coffee cups above the coffee pot, and so on. Deciding what goes where before unpacking will save you time in the long run.

3. Go Room by Room

Focus on one room at a time, and unpack essentials first. Though it can feel like an insurmountable task, rest assured: Your house is going to feel like home in no time!

Kitchen and Baths. In the kitchen, unpack most-used items first. Items that you won't use immediately can be set aside to unpack at a later time. In the bathrooms, hang shower curtains, unpack toiletries and put out toilet paper and soap.

Bedrooms. In your bedrooms, have the beds set up and made with clean sheets by the first night. Unpacking your clothing and bedroom accessories can wait. Again, now is a good time to install a closet organization system.

Living Room. Unpacking the living room should be a combined effort by everyone in the household. There will be a lot of items to be placed and electronics to hook up.

Garage. Having an organized garage is important. If you haven't set up shelves and hooks for placement of tools, yard supplies and sports equipment; do so now. Having organizational systems in place will help curb the tendency for making piles later.

4. Play Interior Designer

Place furniture so the room feels open and functional. Strive for balance by distributing heavier pieces of furniture around the room. Create a focal point or use a natural one like a fireplace.

When positioning furniture, it's a good idea to make a sketch of the room, including desired locations of items. Erasing an armoire, rather than lifting it, could save you a trip to the chiropractor.

It takes time get settled in, but here are some quick and easy tips for making your house feel like home:

• Hang shades, blinds or curtains for instant privacy and a homey feel.

• Consider painting rooms a different color, or stenciling around an archway.

• Brighten up a room with self-adhesive wallpaper borders.

• Refinish old cabinets or add new knobs.

• Hang family photographs, mirrors and framed artwork.

• Add potted plants for extra color or to fill empty corners.

Helpful Tips for Setting Up

• As boxes are unpacked, take an inventory of everything you have to make sure nothing has been lost. If you have any broken or damaged items, make sure to keep them as evidence for insurance claims. Claims usually need to be filed within a set number of days after the move.

• Use a surge protector when setting up a computer or stereo equipment.

• As you unpack boxes, collapse them for storage or recycling.

• Start a log of home repairs and maintenance that needs to be done.

• Create a shopping list to make sure you have everything you need.


The Right Decisions Can Save Money During a Move

by Gregory Karp, Chicago Tribune.

Moving a residence is often fraught with high emotions and involves a to-do list a mile long. So, it's tempting to give only passing attention to hiring a mover and the related incidental costs.

That could be a mistake — for your wallet and your peace of mind.

Moving can be quite expensive. A typical full-service interstate move costs about $4,300, while the same in-state move might cost about $2,500, according to the American Moving & Storage Association.

And while the moving industry has many fine companies, it is notorious for fraud and dirty tactics by so-called rogue movers.

Here are tips on making your move with lower costs and less hassle.

CHOOSE A TYPE OF MOVE: You have three basic choices: do-it-yourself, full service and a relatively new hybrid of the two. Going it alone is cheapest, costing the rental price of a truck, gasoline, packing materials and, perhaps, pizza and beer for friends you rope into helping.

With full-service moves, moving within a state is charged by the hour, while moving across state lines is charged by weight and mileage.

With a hybrid move, a mover will drop off a large container at your home for you to pack. It will then load the container onto a truck, drive the belongings to your new location and drop off the container for you to unload. Because you're doing the manual labor of packing and unpacking, it's far less costly than a full-service move.

HIRE A QUALITY MOVER: If you hire help, get at least three price quotes and do homework. Seek recommendations by talking with family and friends, even your Facebook circle. Investigate a company's reputation with the Better Business Bureau (, and possibly the paid-membership site Angie's List ( Check a company's complaint history at the federal government site,

"People think a good reputation equals expensive, but that's not true," said Laura McHolm, co-founder of NorthStar Moving in Los Angeles. "You don't get a good reputation by overcharging people."

For interstate moves, a company's ProMover certification with the movers association is a good sign. The organization in January 2009 started screening movers based on seven criteria. It kicked out some 220 of 3,100 members over the past two years because they didn't measure up, said spokesman John Bisney. See "Find a ProMover" at

"The old rubric 'You get what you pay for' is true more often than not," Bisney said.

Look for two things: A full-service mover should visit your home in person, not give a quote over the phone or online, and should provide a written estimate, experts say.

DECLUTTER: No matter what type of move you're making, taking less stuff is cheaper and less hassle. Set up a staging area, perhaps in a garage, with various piles, such as throw out, recycle, donate and sell.

"If you really love those go-go boots from the 1960s but will never wear them again, take a picture of them and get rid of them," McHolm said. For many items, use the rule of thumb, "If you haven't used it in a year, you probably don't need it."

BE FLEXIBLE: Like airline fares, moving rates depend on when you book. The busiest time for movers, and thus the most expensive time for consumers, is summer weekends near the 15th and 30th of the month.

If you have time flexibility, ask what rates would be for different days or seasons. If you have extreme flexibility, ask about moving standby: waiting until the mover has extra space and needs to fill a truck.

SAVE ON BOXES: Buying new boxes from a moving company is the most expensive choice. Ask if you can buy used boxes from your moving company. NorthStar, for example, gives customers 25 percent off used boxes and then refunds 25 percent if they return boxes in usable condition.

Cheaper yet is finding free boxes, ideally from somebody who just moved. Ask your real estate agent to connect you with other clients who recently moved. Or look on Specialty boxes, such as wardrobe boxes, might be cheaper to purchase at a do-it-yourself moving store, such as U-Haul, than from your mover.

SAVE ON PACKING MATERIALS: If you're packing yourself, fill suitcases, laundry baskets and plastic containers with unbreakable items. Use pillows, scarves and towels to wrap fragile belongings. And you might as well empty your paper shredder into a box to add cushion.

MAIL BOOKS: If you have many books, pack them yourself and ship them at the postal media mail rate. It might be cheaper than paying a mover. A 70-pound box would cost less than $30. You can't send anything with advertisements, so magazines are out. Search for "media mail."

CONSIDER CONSOLIDATION: For long-distance moves, ask about consolidating your stuff on a truck with other people's. Most homeowners can't fill a full-size moving van. You might have to be flexible on delivery dates and times, but consolidation can be cheaper. "Most times it's a huge price difference," McHolm said.

INSURE IT: Check your homeowner's or renter's insurance policy to determine whether it provides coverage for your belongings while in transit. If not, you'll probably want more than the basic free valuation coverage a full-service mover provides. The standard valuation is 60 cents per pound per item. That means breaking a 10-pound, $1,000 stereo system would net you $6. You'll want full replacement-value insurance, which reimburses you what it will cost to replace broken items. But don't necessarily buy that insurance from the moving company. Moving insurance is likely cheaper from a third party, such as, McHolm said.

Be aware that you probably cannot get insurance on boxes you packed yourself. A mover must pack them.

BE PREPARED: Plot out where furniture and boxes will go. The less time movers spend rearranging, the less expensive it will be.

In urban areas, reserve a space or two in front of your new home for the moving truck by parking your own vehicle there ahead of time. If the movers have to park too far away to unload, you could incur a "long carry" surcharge, McHolm said.

STAKE YOUR CLAIM: If you're moving for a job, negotiate the best relocation package you can. Unreimbursed expenses might be tax-deductible. For details, see Publication 521 Moving Expenses at

TIP: Tipping each mover $3 to $5 per hour is customary, said Stephen Coady, marketing manager for Gentle Giant Moving Co. in Somerville, Mass.

For in-depth information on choosing a mover, see the free, downloadable "Make a Smart Move" available at


—Furniture nabbing. A mover essentially holds your belongings hostage, demanding a higher payment to release them.

—Lowballers. Beware of lowball price quote. They could end up costing you as the mover adds various surcharges.

—Instant quotes. Be wary of phone or Internet estimates. Get written, in-home estimates.

—Large down payment. Be suspicious of carriers seeking large deposits. They might take the money and run. Legitimate movers require no deposit or a small "good faith" down payment.

Create an Action Plan for an Easy Move

by Team Ulster

The key to an easy move is careful planning. There are many action items that need to be taken prior to the move all the way up to the actual day the first box is loaded on the moving truck. Take time to write down and organize the decisions and activities that will need to be accomplished prior to the move such as securing a mover and changing your address. Ideally, you should try to break up the tasks over a two-month period. By doing so, you won’t overload your schedule, plus it can save you time and money.  To get you started, consider using the checklist below as a guide.


Eight Weeks Prior

  • Get estimates from at least three professional movers. If you are going to do it yourself, get estimates on rental trucks.
  • Decide which furniture and household goods you’ll be taking, which needs to be disposed and which needs to be replaced.
  • If you will be moving to a new city, contact the Chamber of Commerce of that town for a new residence packet. Your sales professional may also have information.


Six Weeks Prior

  • Inventory your possessions besides furniture – kitchenware, decorative items, electronics, apparel and so on.
  • Complete a change of address form with the post office. This can be easily done online at for a minimal cost of $1. Make sure you notify organizations, credit cards companies, and publications to which you subscribe of your new address, too.
  • Obtain copies of all medical, dental, legal, accounting and veterinarian records.
  • If children are changing schools, arrange for transfer of educational records.
  • Itemize moving-related costs with the mover including packing, loading, special charges and insurance.


Four Weeks Prior

  • Make arrangements for packing your belongings. If you will be using professionals, schedule with the company for packing to take place a day or two before the move. If you will handle packing on your own, purchase adequate boxes, packing materials and tape.
  • Arrange for short-term or long-term storage if needed.
  • Make travel arrangements for pets including necessary medical records, immunizations, medication and so on.


Three Weeks Prior

  • Begin packing items you won’t need immediately or that will go into storage.
  • Contact utilities on both ends of the move to order termination or turn-on for occupancy date.
  • Confirm travel arrangements for family and pets.


Two Weeks Prior

  • Terminate newspaper and other delivery services.
  • If necessary, arrange and confirm new bank accounts and local services in your new neighborhood.


One Week Prior

  • Gather important papers, records, and valuables for protected shipment to new home or safe deposit box.
  • Obtain any prescription medications needed for the next few weeks.


Day Before or Actual Moving Day

  • Defrost refrigerator/freezer and give away all perishable food.
  • Keep a box marked “Last Box Packed/First Box Unpacked” for tools, flashlights, first aid kit and so on. On moving day, this should be the last box placed on the truck.
  • Pack items to carry with you such as valuables, financial records, personal papers and so on.
  • Give the movers a telephone number and address to reach you.

To be sure, a detailed action plan can get your move well down the road before you ever depart to your new destination.

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Contact Information

Photo of Laurel Sweeney Real Estate
Laurel Sweeney
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nutshell Realty
1209 State Route 213, PO Box 452
High Falls NY 12440
Office: 845-687-2200
Toll Free 877-468-5783
Fax: 845-687-4162

© 2016 BHH Affiliates, LLC. An independently owned and operated franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc.®.  Equal Housing Opportunity.