HOMEFINDER: Checklists handy when moving time comes

Being organized can go a long way toward reducing your stress level

Packing up your belongings early

For home buyers, moving can be stressful, no matter if one is a first-time purchaser, scaling down to a smaller place or moving up to a larger home.

If you want to remove a fair chunk of that stress, there are various strategies for reducing it. And the nice part is, most can be utilized long before the sales agreement is signed or the moving company is booked.

Barbara McDonell with Clutter Queen Services often works with people to get rid of unwanted items in advance of  move.

“I get them look at one item and ask, ‘do I love it and do I use it?’ If not, they should seriously consider donating it or selling it,” she says. “If they can’t answer right away that they love it, they usually don’t.”

She recommends starting with large items to maximize downsizing efforts and get you thinking about whether your old furniture will fit in the new place.

Another area ripe for decluttering, she says, is storage lockers.

“I find that people are paying a lot of money for (outside) storage. People will often discover things they haven’t used in ages and may never use again, like 30 copies of a university thesis. If you don’t get rid of it, you’re paying to move it, if you happen to be gong to another city.”

By the time you’re ready to start looking seriously for a new home – maybe you’ve already found one that fits your needs – there are certain logistical steps to take.

Once clients settle on his services, says Realtor John Hircock, he works with people to find out where they are in the buying procedure.

“I do a bit of an interview to see if they’re pre-approved (for a loan) and who their mortgage broker is,” he says. “I want to make sure they have a little better understanding of the process.”

He helps clients understand what they need to have in place before they buy, but also has a good checklist that includes other service providers who can help make buying a home a smooth experience.

“The real estate agent is just one of the professionals that people are going to use,” Hircock says, listing such tasks as hiring a home inspector and a moving company, and having documents vetted and signed by a lawyer or notary public. “There’s a whole bunch of people who are going to be involved in that transaction, perhaps even an accountant.”

Part of the package he offers includes a closing costs worksheet to help eliminate surprises or underestimation of the funds needed to complete a deal. “You need to have a bit of money set aside to transfer your services (such as hydro, cable, phone and home heating) in addition to all the closing costs, like the property transfer tax (for which exemptions are available for first-time buyers).”

Once the house search gets down to the offer stage, only three things can happen: the seller can reject it, they can counter with a different price, or they can accept it. Regardless of the seeming simplicity of the transaction, it can still be a stressful time, Hircock says.

“It takes time and sometimes there’s multiple offers. Explaining that process, letting a client read through a blank contract of purchase and sale, helps people have at least a general understanding of the process (going in).”

When the moving date is confirmed, people can do various things to prepare, says Cathy Haynes, the Downsize Diva.

One of her first suggestions? If you plan to use movers, book them early (mid-month specials are often available). If you plan to pack your own boxes, use strong ones that can close at the top and be stacked and list contents clearly on the side.

As for the aforementioned service transfers, book well ahead so as not to have service interrupted. Other items to change include licences and insurance, credit cards, bank information, subscriptions and getting your mail forwarded to the new address for up to six months.

If those are the “must-dos,” Haynes says, the “nice-to-dos” include leaving things for your home’s buyer, such as warranties and instruction manuals for appliances and dated invoices for major renovations.

“You also want to let them know where the shutoffs are for the water, and leave behind paint cans from recent painting jobs for touchups,” she says. “It’s also nice to leave the names of a couple neighbours, especially the Block Watch captain; your favourite cafés and maybe a parks and rec booklet. Oh and don’t forget the remotes for the garage doors.”

Overall, a little forward planning can help make the moving process a pleasure rather than a chore.

Q: WHAT ARE SOME POINTERS FOR THE MOVING PROCESS?

If you’re using a moving company, get three quotes – Check their rating  with the Better Business Bureau and ask them to come to your home first to help avoid surprise charges

Separate your ‘immediate need’ boxes – Keep items you use daily apart from other boxes for quick access

Buy enough supplies and collect boxes ahead of time if you’re packing – Running out when you’re nearing moving day adds one more job to an already busy time

Start out right in your new home, consider the elements of feng shui – Don’t simply move the clutter from your old home to the new one. Seriously think about getting rid of items you haven’t used or looked at in a year or more

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