Tag Archives: home selling

3 Common Moving Nightmares (and How to Prevent Them)

There’s no other way to put it: Moving is stressful. But it doesn’t have to be a waking nightmare. Here’s how to avoid a move from … you know where.

Nightmares aren’t supposed to take place in broad daylight, but some common life events bring so much tension, uncertainty and anxiety that they can easily rank as “quality nightmares.” Moving house tops the list of stressful experiences that can feel like a bad dream — and it can easily come true unless you take precautionary measures.

Problems can occur at every stage of the relocation process: A violent storm hits just when the moving truck is parking in front of your door. The elevator is out of order when you arrive at your new high-rise building. You lose the keys to your car on the morning of moving day. The list goes on.

However, the most common moving nightmares fall into three main categories. Here’s how they typically play out — and how to avoid them.

Bad movers

Many moving horror stories involve rogue or incompetent movers.

  • The movers are late or don’t show up at all. The agreed-upon time comes and goes, but you see no sign of an approaching moving truck. When you call the moving company to demand an explanation, your relocation nightmare begins. Regardless of the excuses you receive (a traffic jam, a breakdown, a delay on a previous job, a mistaken date, etc.), the inevitable result will be lots of stress and wasted time. Worst of all, you may not be able to reach the moving company at all: fraudulent movers may have taken your deposit money and disappeared with it.
  • The movers are careless or inexperienced. If your movers arrive late, in a smaller moving truck than needed, or lack the required know-how and the proper equipment to handle your items safely and efficiently, your relocation can quickly turn into a nightmarish experience. The amateur movers may drop your plasma TV, break your heirloom china, scratch your antique dresser, dent the floors, or cause other overwhelming emotional and financial damage.
  • The movers are scam artists. In the worst case scenario, you may fall victim to unscrupulous moving scams. Rogue movers will often request much more money than previously negotiated based on some alleged extra services. They may hold your belongings hostage until you pay a considerable extra “fee” as ransom, or steal your more expensive belongings and just discard the rest.

The good news is that there is an easy way to avoid such nightmares. All you need to do is carefully research your movers before hiring them to make sure you are dealing with licensed and experienced professionals you can trust. It’s also a good idea to purchase appropriate insurance for your belongings, just in case.

Traffic problems

Heavy traffic or road accidents can also turn your move into a real nightmare.

  • Traffic jams. The moving truck is delayed and there may not be enough time to proceed with your move as planned. You may have to postpone the relocation to another day, or you may miss your flight.
  • Traffic accidents. if there has been an accident on the road, the moving truck will have to wait until the damaged vehicles are removed and normal traffic is restored. However, the scenario could get much worse: You may lose all your possessions or receive them badly damaged if the moving truck crashes, catches fire, or gets trapped somewhere because of adverse weather conditions like heavy snowfall or torrential rains. It’s even possible that thieves could break into the vehicle and steal your goods.
  • Breakdown. If the moving truck breaks down on the road, you’ll have to wait for the moving company to send another vehicle. What’s more, your items can easily get damaged while being transferred.
  • Parking issues. The moving truck has to circle the neighborhood for hours until an appropriate parking space is vacated, or the movers have to park far away from the entrance to your home. In such cases, you’ll not only lose valuable time, but will also have to pay an extra fee for the delay or an additional long-carry fee.

Of course, there’s nothing you can do to prevent traffic accidents or breakdowns. But you can at least reserve a parking place directly in front of your old and new homes, and choose a moving company that has experienced drivers and several moving vehicles in good condition.

Poor organization

The only way to avoid problems when moving house is to plan each phase of your relocation adventure in meticulous detail and stay one step ahead all the time. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing any of the following all-too-common moving ordeals.

  • Packing chaos. It may turn out that you’ve packed more items than previously discussed with the movers; packed items that can’t be loaded onto the moving truck; haven’t labeled the boxes properly; or forgotten to prepare an “essentials box.” Worst of all, you may not be ready when the movers arrive. All these packing mistakes will result in lost time and money.
  • Furniture troubles. If your large furniture doesn’t fit through the doors, you may be forced to leave some treasured pieces behind, or request hoisting services that will cost you dearly and will delay your move considerably.
  • Paperwork problems. If you forget to transfer the utilities, you won’t have electricity, gas, and water on move-in day. If you forget to change your address, you won’t have your mail delivered to your new home. If you forget to update your driver’s license and car registration in time, you’ll be fined. Not taking proper care of your documents will most certainly get you in trouble.
  • Overspending. If you book your movers at the last moment, require too many extra services, fail to create a realistic moving budget, pack all your items without sorting them out first, or allow any other financial imprudence, you’ll end up paying much more than you expected.
  • Safety issues. Make every effort to prevent injuries and accidents on moving day, as getting hurt is one of the worst things that can happen during your relocation endeavor.

Post courtesy of zillow.com

What Is a Certificate of Occupancy? Proof Your Home Is Safe

Everyone wants to know the home they’re purchasing is safe to live in. That’s why some municipalities go a step beyond the standard home inspection and require a special permit, called a certificate of occupancy, to ensure the houses in their area meet safety codes. To obtain the permit, an additional inspection must be done. Read on to learn what the inspection covers, who pays for it, and the effect it could have on the real estate settlement process.

What is a certificate of occupancy?

Simply put, a certificate of occupancy—sometimes referred to as a use-and-occupancy certificate, or a U&O—is a document that says a building is safe to be lived in. Not all municipalities require them, but in the ones that do, these permits are usually issued by a local building or zoning authority. The permit affirms that the property has been built and maintained according to the standards laid out by local government officials.

Typically, these certificates are first issued when a property is built, and additional inspections are performed any time the property changes hands.

Certificate of occupancy inspection

The inspection will typically focus on things like making sure the home meets fire codes and that all electrical work has been properly done. But since the exact requirements will vary according to the municipality, there may be more.

“The scope of a U&O ranges from small safety measures such as the installation of railings and smoke detectors to bigger items like ensuring that the proper permitting is in place for renovations,” explains Michael Kelczewski, a real estate agent in Pennsylvania.

Some U&O permits also require that inspections be performed on specific amenities in the home to verify that they are still in good condition. For example, a chimney inspection, a heating inspection, and even a sprinkler system inspection could all fall under the use-and-occupancy umbrella.

Who pays for a certificate of occupancy inspection?

Sellers typically bear the brunt of the certificate of occupancy inspection process. If this permit is required by a city, the seller will pay a fee for the initial inspection, as part of a charge by the real estate agent for the process of transferring property. The seller will also be responsible for conducting any subsequent inspections requested by the zoning authority in order to have the permit issued.

Who pays for the house repairs?

Once the results of the inspections come back, both parties will negotiate who will handle any necessary repairs. Ideally, these repairs will be completed before settlement, and an agent of the municipality will be brought out to reinspect the property before issuing the permit. However, as long as all sides are in agreement, a conditional U&O may be issued under the assumption that work will be done after closing. In the event that no agreement can be reached, both the buyer and seller have the right to dissolve the transaction.

‘As is’ or bank-owned homes

Keep in mind that properties being sold “as is” or that are bank-owed are an exception to the above scenario. In these cases, by submitting an offer, the buyer often agrees to accept financial responsibility for this requirement and any associated repairs. When dealing with this type of transaction, be sure to read the purchase agreement carefully so that you’re aware of the scope of your responsibilities before committing to buying the property.

A note for renters

Certificates of occupancy aren’t just for homeowners. Some areas require landlords to keep them on file for their residents and to have subsequent inspections performed at regular intervals. This ordinance is aimed at making sure that rental properties aren’t allowed to lapse into such a state of disrepair that they become uninhabitable.

Courtesy of realtor.com.

10 Sneaky Ways to Make Your Kitchen Look Expensive

There’s no denying that the kitchen has become the focal point of the modern home, the place where the outsize influence of the Food Network and HGTV converge. Prospective buyers want to imagine themselves gathered there among friends, sipping wine and nibbling on hors d’oeuvres with ease—or perhaps preparing a family meal while the kids pitch in as little sous-chefs.

But achieving that dream kitchen is also one of the most expensive home remodeling projects you can possibly undertake. If your taste trends more toward Veuve Clicquot on a budget that’s solidly PBR, never fear: We’ve got some sneaky tricks to give your kitchen a fancy upgrade on the cheap.

1. Choose a luxurious color palette (and play with texture)

pctune up

“These work best and convey a really luxe vibe,” she says.  “Look at the branding colors of luxury designers—they are mostly lightly muted and off the primary color.” She favors charcoal, cream, and champagne over harsher black, white, silver, or gold.

And consider texture when you’re planning your palette.

“You want to vary the texture to vary the complexity and make the design more layered and high-end,” says Hoffmann. “Choose two or three very close colors and play with texture instead—think white, a cream, and a very, very light natural beige as your colors, and then create visual interest by incorporating lots of texture in the room as your accent.”

Think of varying high-gloss, matte, and distressed finishes, and using raised patterns.

2. Reinvent tired cabinets with new hardware

If new cabinets aren’t in the cards, take your kitchen from outdated to outstanding with new hardware. Replace all door pulls, handles, and even hinges with fancy pieces in unexpected hues (we love these gorgeous handmade pieces by House of Antique Hardware). Just make sure to choose pieces that fit the holes in your cabinets, since traditional spackle or caulk can shrink. (If you can’t fit existing holes, pros recommend using a nonshrinking wood putty or auto body filler, but you’ll need to sand the work surface first.)

And don’t be afraid to mix metals, says Maize Jacobs-Brichford, a designer and project manager at Brynn Olsen Design Group in Chicago, who favors clean, traditional lines in unlacquered brass or polished nickel.

“Even if your sink or lighting is chrome, your hardware can still go brass,” she says.

3. Paint (or add glass doors to) your cabinets

pctune up

When it comes to tired old cabinets (particularly the stalwart oak cabinets of the ’80s), a good coat of paint can hide all manner of sins, according to Hoffmann.

“Enough already!” she exclaims. The old cabinets “are aging your space!”

We like Ace Hardware’s Cabinet, Door & Trim Paint, a semigloss alkyd enamel paint that promises a smooth finish. If you’re a clumsy DIY painter (are those brush strokes?), hire a pro.

Hoffmann also claims it’s “fairly easy” to cut out the front of existing cabinets and put in glass for an open, modern look. We’re not so sure, so if you’re at all in doubt, leave it to a trusted contractor or handyman. (Tutorials for this type of upgrade abound on the internet; we like this one from HGTV.)

4. Put your best stems forward

Invest a little in new stemware. If you have a bit of cash to spend, splurge on a gorgeous open shelf (or consider glass-front cabinets) to display pretty colored or textured glass, like these from Epitome Home.

5. Update the light fixtures

“Even if you don’t have the budget to change out some of the bigger architectural features, updating your fixtures can be a big change,” says Jacobs-Brichford. “When in doubt, go with a globe fixture with polished nickel or brass details to keep it simple but chic.”

Hoffmann also swears by dimmable lighting.

“Get an electrician to put your lights on a dimmer, and instantly upgrade the feel of your kitchen, especially at night or when entertaining,” she says.

And finally, don’t forget about task lighting—particularly under-cabinet lights. Battery-powered LED lights are inexpensive and couldn’t be easier to install (in many cases, you just stick them on using removable adhesive). Position them under cabinets in the areas where you typically spend the most time.

6.  Recast the backsplash

After cabinets, a backsplash makes the biggest statement in a kitchen. This is one place you want to splurge, pros say.

“It’s a great place to showcase your personal style and taste,” says Hoffmann, who favors monochromatic trends like concrete, herringbone, and subway tile.

If you’re on a budget, reinvigorate your backsplash without mortar by using a simpler, adhesive-based product like SimpleMat.

7. Upgrade your view

pctune up

Hoffmann swears by window appliqués to fake a great view outside a kitchen window. These also add visual interest if the area isn’t conducive to traditional window treatments, she says. Another great trick? Hang ferns or other flowers outside your windows to give the illusion of lush, verdant space. Hoffmann also likes to add herb gardens to the counter space, over the sink, or just outside windows.

8.  Paint the countertops

Innovative new products from companies like Giani Granite and Rust-Oleum let you paint (yes, paint!) your dingy old wood or laminate countertops if new granite or slab isn’t in the budget. You can go for a textured imitation stone look, or keep things cohesive with a simple solid color.

9.  Incorporate fruit

pctune up

Bring life to a kitchen with a driftwood bowl filled with a bright fruit or vegetables; Jacobs-Brichford likes lemons, artichokes, or green apples.

“They can usually sit out for two weeks—much longer than the life span of flowers,” she says. (Fake fruit is fine in a pinch, though designers prefer the real thing.) If you’re staging your home to sell, consider adding fruit to your kitchen to give it an attractively livable feel.

10.  Add fragrance

“Stop burning hideous, noxious, cheap candles,” says Hoffmann. “They are toxic and smell cheap to anyone who knows better when they enter your house. If you’re spending $20 a month on candles, that’s $240 a year.  Purchase a lightly scented luxury Culti diffuser instead, and get a couple of flameless candles. Your space will smell more expensive, elegant, and subtle.”

The (admittedly pricey) diffuser uses perfume-grade oils, gives off a more understated scent than traditional candles, and lasts an entire year.

Post courtesy of realtor.com