Spring Cleaning – Not a Chore Anymore!

It’s “Spring Cleaning” time – a task that’s even more important when your home is for sale.  Cleaning a home from top to bottom is a big job, but since many hands make light work, why not make an annual chore into something that will leave your family wanting more?  Spring cleaning day can be a fun family time.  Don’t believe me? Read on…spring cleaning lara taylor real estate charlotte nc

Best Laid Plans
Step one to Spring cleaning success is to plan ahead!  Make sure all family members know when the big day will be.  Put it on the family calendar, issue a few friendly reminders, and maybe even make some fun and silly invitations that contain individualized to-do lists as well as a list of games, prizes, and special treats that will be available (or earned!) throughout the day.

Make sure they all know it’s a family event and that it’s not a family if everyone isn’t there! And make a list of supplies and do the shopping in advance so you’re not spending time running to the store.  And make a rule that all cell phones are turned off for the day!

Good Clean Fun
Create a Spring cleaning soundtrack by inviting each family member to bring a favorite CD or iTunes playlist. Draw straws to determine the order in which they’ll be played and then take a vote at day’s end as to who had the best and worst cleanup music.

Serve up a Spring cleaning smorgasbord by fixing your family’s favorite snacks. You might even survey them in advance to see what they’d like on the clean-up menu.  Set break times and snack together!

Turn the clean-up into a contest by dividing the family into teams. Give each team the same basic amount of work (and make sure the teams are fair too) and see who can get done first. Reward the winners with an extra treat.

Make memories by taking pictures throughout the day. Your kids can take the Spring cleaning scrapbook to school to show teachers and classmates how hard they worked….and how much fun they had!

Don’t forget to celebrate by planning a family night of fun once the job is done! Head out to dinner or to the movies.  Or stay at home and eat pizza in your sparkling clean kitchen, just make sure you keep it that way!

Lara
Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker
704-200-8835
Twitter – @AskForLara
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The Closet Conundrum

What’s behind your front door isn’t all that matters when preparing a home for sale.  You can bet that prospective buyers will be opening every door in your home – including the closets!  And you’ll need to be ready for them.Lara Taylor Realtor Charlotte NC

You want buyers to gasp when they grasp that closet door handle and give it a pull. But you don’t want them to be horrified by your clutter, rather buyers should be sighing in relief at the spacious, clean, organized closets that await their wardrobes.

Use Your Illusions

Even if you think your closets aren’t big enough, you’ve got to make potential buyers think otherwise. To do that, the first step is to take everything out of the closet in question. If it can be donated or discarded, get rid of it (see my blog post on Freecycle!). If it’s not in season, pack it up and put it elsewhere (a storage unit or basement storage area, perhaps?). That will leave you with just the items you need.

Now think, hotel suite or swanky clothing store. That’s the look you’re going for – spare, minimal, spacious, elegant, organized! Group your clothing by type and color.  Use one type of hanger and make sure they’re all headed in the same direction (discard odd and unused hangers while you’re at it!).

Measure your clothing and hang short items on double rods (found at any hardware store and easily installed). Put your sweaters and purses in cubbies and make sure you’ve got adequate and attractive shoe storage too.

Half Empty or Half Full?

And make sure that there’s plenty of empty space when you’re done, since that suggest closets are generously sized.  And generously sized closets may lead to a generous offer on your home phone for sale.

Lara
Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker
704-200-8835
Twitter – @AskForLara
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Moves to Make When Hiring Movers (part two)

Even if you chose the most honest, reputable mover with a great track record and good lara taylor charlotte real estate ncintentions, you still might have problems. No one is perfect – your mover included.  But what do you do when your mover makes a wrong move? Read on to find out…

Complaints and Questions?

Movers should be expected to respond promptly to complaints or inquiries from you, the customer. If you have a complaint or question about your move, try the mover’s local office first. That’s where you’ll find the people most knowledgeable about your job, as they handled the arrangements for your move and assigned the driver for your shipment.

If that doesn’t work, then call corporate. But be sure to have copies of all documents relating to your move available, including any reference numbers assigned to your shipment by your mover.

All interstate moving companies are required to maintain a complaint and inquiry
procedure to assist customers. Ask the mover’s representative for a description of that process in advance and it must include the following items:

1. A communications system allowing you to communicate with your mover’s principal place of business by telephone.
2. A telephone number.
3. A clear and concise statement about who must pay for complaint and inquiry telephone calls.
4. A written or electronic record system for recording all inquiries and complaints received from you by any means of communication.

Lost or Damaged?

Should your move result in the loss of or damage to any of your property, you have
the right to file a claim with your mover to recover money for such loss or damage.
You should file a claim as soon as possible.

While the Federal Government maintains regulations governing the processing of
loss and damage claims (49 CFR Part 370), it can’t resolve those claims. If you
can’t reach an agreement the mover, you may file a civil action to recover your
claim in court under 49 U.S.C. 14706.

In addition, your mover must participate in an arbitration program. An arbitration program gives you the opportunity to settle certain types of unresolved loss or damage claims and disputes through a neutral arbitrator. You may find submitting your claim to arbitration under such a program to be a less expensive and more convenient way to seek recovery of your claim. Your mover is required to provide you with information about its arbitration program before you move.

So, now that you’re a little more in the know, go find a mover and get moving!

Lara
Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker
704-200-8835
Twitter – @AskForLara
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Moves to Make When Hiring Movers

You know when you’re moving.  You know where.  But do you know the answer to this question: Who?  Who will be packing and shipping your belongings?  If you haven’t chosen a moving company yet, I encourage you to read on for some valuable information that could save you money, as well as the headache and heartache that hiring a disreputable, unprofessional, or downright dishonest mover will bring.moving lara taylor charlotte real estate nc

Caught in the InterNET!

Start your search online, but don’t end it there. Visit to www.movingscam.com to get the lowdown on the tricks of the trade and some very specific advice about moving contracts and your rights. But then, get offline and on the phone, as Internet-based moving scams abound. Ask friends, relatives, and others you trust for recommendations.  And ask your real estate agent for suggestions too.

Companies you consider should have an office in your area and must have been in business for at least 10 years. Have them come to your home to give you an estimate and make sure they won’t be sub-contracting your job out. While they’re at your home, be sure to get all of the following information:

  • Full company name and any DBA names
  • Number of years in business
  • Company address
  • Phone numbers (local and toll-free)
  • DOT and MC license numbers
  • Company web site address
  • Email addresses
  • Get references (and call them)

Once you’ve got your estimates and the information above, head back to movingscam.com where you can follow step-by-step instructions on how to use that data.

Don’t Go for Brokers

No matter which company you choose, NEVER hire a moving or household goods broker. Consumer protection laws do not apply to them and they’re objective is to get the HIGHEST bid (not the lowest) for your job.  How do you know if the company in question is a broker.  Easy.  Ask! And if the answer is yes, move on.

For more tips about dealing with movers, be sure to read my next blog in which I tell you what to do if your mover makes a wrong move.

Lara
Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker
704-200-8835
Twitter – @AskForLara
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Give It Away Now!

Whether you’re “de-cluttering” your home to get it ready to show or your packing for the big move to your new home, one thing is certain: you’ve got a lot of stuff that you just don’t need. photo of lara taylor realtor charlotte nc

An extra set of dishes that you never use, toys and books that your kids have outgrown, exercise equipment that’s been doubling as a clothes rack, furniture that doesn’t fit, clothes that don’t fit either. And that’s just the house.  What about the garage, the shed?  Well, now is the time to LOSE all of those unwanted belongings. And I encourage you to give it all away — rather than throw it all away — to people who will USE it!

Free to Be Clutter Free
Consider Freecycle (www.freecycle.org). The Freecycle Network is made up of 4,928 groups with 8,267,620 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers, and membership is free.

And it’s so easy you won’t even believe it!  You send a quick email describing what you’ve got up for grabs — from old clothes to a bedroom set to a swing set — anything goes!  And people in your area will reply asking you to select them to receive it.  It’s fun to choose new owners for your old stuff, and it feels good too!

Right Back at You!
You also can reply to others’ posts if you see something listed that catches your eye — a wicker chair, snow boots just the right size for your daughter?  And you can even ask for a specific something that you need — cleats for your son’s burgeoning baseball career, a hose for your new home’s beautiful garden?  Or even moving boxes! You never know what your local Freecycler’s have stashed in their sheds, and it could be just what you’re looking for.

So, in the spirit of Freecycle’s mission and in support of your mission to cut down on clutter, give it a try.  What have you got to lose besides a bunch of stuff you don’t use anyway?

Lara
Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker
704-200-8835
Twitter – @AskForLara
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Moving With Elderly Parents (Part 3)

Did you know that there are more than just The Ten Commandments in the Old Testament?  In fact there are more than 600! Your inter-generational family’s exodus will be an exciting, busy, and sometimes hectic day for everyone. But moving day can be especially stressful for older people.  So here are an additional Ten Suggestions (not 600 commandments!) to help you facilitate an easier, happier, smoother move for your elderly loved ones:    photo lara taylor realtor charlotte nc

1. Make certain that any prescriptions that are running low have been renewed and re-filled prior to moving day.

2. Keep all medications handy.  Put them aside with any other items you’ll be taking with you or in an overnight bag.  The last thing you want to be doing is searching through moving boxes to find critically needed medications just before you leave or as soon as you arrive at your new home.

3. Start the big day well rested.  Moving can take a lot of emotional energy.  Have all of the final pre-move work done early on the day BEFORE the big move so that everyone can get a good night’s sleep.

4. Explain your plan and expectations of how the move should go including what time the movers will arrive, departure time, etc.  The more informed your elders are the easier it will be to prepare themselves for all of the activity on moving day.

5.  Share the information you have about your moving company with your parents and elders.  And introduce them to their movers by name when the moving crew arrives.

6. Make a point of alerting the moving crew to your parents’ or elders’ most unique, sentimental or valuable items.  Professional movers take care to move every item safely, but it will be reassuring for elders to see and hear and know that their prized personal possessions are being given special attention and treated with extra tender loving care.

7. Reassure your parents or elders about the safety of their possessions. It can be worrisome to watch your life’s treasures getting packed, loaded and driven away.

8. Talk about where you’re all going and what lies ahead at your destination. Don’t allow elders to dwell so much on what they’re leaving behind.  Remind them about the advantages that await them at their new home and focus on what they have to look forward to when you get there to the promised land.

9. Let the movers do ALL of the lifting! There is a natural desire to want to help or pitch-in.  Older adults are at greater risk of injury from trying to lift or move heavy boxes themselves. The movers are there to move you. Professionals know how to move everything in your home safely and properly. Let them.

10.  “Getting there is half the fun.”  So whether you’re flying, riding or driving don’t forget to enjoy the flight, the ride, or the drive.  Remember to take time to have some fun on the journey to your new home.

The third of The Ten Commandments – “Honor thy father and thy mother” – is the only one that comes with the promise “that you may have a long, good life” attached to it.  None of these suggestions comes with any such promise.  But following them can help get you and your parents or elders in your household moving smoothly toward living that long, good life together in your new home. Amen!

Lara
Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker
704-200-8835
Twitter – @AskForLara
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Moving With Elderly Parents (Part 2)

Moving to a new home often means having to part with items that it has taken years to accumulate.  Sorting and packing to move can be an especially hard and emotional process for anyone. And it can be even more so for an elder who has collected even more stuff over many more years. lara taylor real estate charlotte nc

Take it slow. Treat your loved ones, their possessions, and their feelings about them with tender loving care during this time. It can be difficult to let go of the past when there aren’t as many years ahead to look forward to. Sometimes wanting to hold onto an item isn’t about the item itself; it’s more about the memories associated with that item and the sentimental value attached to it.

With that in mind, let’s get back to our final five suggestions…

6. Take it one room at a time. Start with the easier rooms and work your way up. Some rooms, such as bedrooms and those filled with family heirlooms and photos, can be more emotionally packed and therefor take longer to pack than others. Save them for last if at all possible. And take some time to enjoy the process.

7. Help them sort things out. Deciding what to take and what cannot be taken is often the hardest part of moving and can be especially so for a senior. Allow them make their own decisions as much as possible. Try to help them make the difficult choices about what to keep and take with them by suggesting alternatives such as giving some items to loved ones or donating them to charity.

8. Set aside some sentimental items to take along with you. Instead of packing them for the movers, think about adding a few small, precious items like a framed photo or a sentimental curio to bring on your trip,  (in addition to a change of clothes and toiletries!). That way your parents can have the comfort of these items right away when they arrive at your new home.

9. Choose your moving company carefully. Make sure you choose a moving company you are comfortable with and that understands the special needs of older family members.

10. Talk with your mover. It’s a good idea to have a conversation about any special needs with your moving agent ahead of time. If your move involves any medical equipment, be sure to ask what can and cannot be shipped. For example, for safety and legal reasons, oxygen tanks cannot be shipped unless the valve has been removed by a professional.

Use any or all of these Ten Suggestions (not commandments!) to help any parent or senior adult moving with you experience an easy and smooth move. And may you all enjoy a long, good life in your new home sweet home.

Lara

Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker

704-200-8835

Twitter – @AskForLara

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