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What To Do If Your New House Has A Bunch Of Hidden Problems

in Advice, Real Estate by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

With our housing boom, home buyers don’t have a lot of clout in today’s market. Unfortunately, to purchase a home, many buyers have to forgo protections like home inspections before purchase.

That doesn’t mean that if you don’t have an inspection, you have no rights. In most cases, it is the seller’s obligation to disclose major problems like with foundations, roofs, mold and pests. If a seller neglected to tell you about a major problem, you might be able to sue, but you might not.

Home sellers are required to give truthful information about home defects they know or should have known about. Most states, including California, do require home sellers to complete several disclosure forms describing their homes’ general condition. Home sellers can never deliberately withhold from potential buyers knowledge about their homes’ condition that could later pose problems, such as lead paint or termites. However, homes in states such as California are also presumed to be sold “as-is.”

Source: SF Gate

Even if your home purchase was an exception to the disclosure low (such as a foreclosure, a family transfer, a judgement, etc.), you can ask the seller to fix the problems, although you could risk them saying no and you could risk them rejecting your offer.

The best tactic might be to hire an inspector anyway. Factor anything the inspector finds into the offer, even with the competitive market. If you can’t afford to fix a home’s major problems, it’s not the home for you anyway.

Another tactic is to wait on what you can. If the roof still has a couple of years on it, or if the plumbing only clogs occasionally, you can gamble that the real estate market will continue to rise and that you can take out a home equity loan to fix the problems. If, however, the safety and integrity of your home is at stake (such as with foundation or electrical issues), it may be best to move on.

If you’re already living in the home, though, you are probably stuck because in California, homes are sold as-is. If you sell, you will have to disclose the problems to future buyers though. Some repairs might be delayed by hiring a handyman. For example, a foundation issue might just need a French drain. A roof might just need patches, as might some pipes. Even electrical issues could have bandaid fixes, but be careful.

Six Things You Should Never, Ever Have A Moving Company Move

in Advice, Posts, Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

When you hire a moving company, you have a right to expect a lot. A good moving company is expert at moving everything from basic furniture to priceless antiques; from framed posters to masterpieces. There are some things, though, that you should never have your movers take with them.

Image via <a href=

Pixabay,” width=”960″ height=”725″ class=”size-large wp-image-10223″ /> Image via Pixabay,

Valuable Papers

Experts always recommend that in case of fire or natural disaster, always take your valuable, irreplaceable papers with them, if at all possible. The same holds true when you move. While your movers can be trusted, papers like deeds, car titles, birth certificates and social security cards are far too valuable to trust with anyone. More importantly, moving insurance doesn’t cover the loss of valuable documents.

Image via <a href=

Pixnio” width=”960″ height=”636″ class=”size-large wp-image-10221″ /> Image via Pixnio

Expensive Jewelry

As with valuable papers, moving insurance does not cover valuable jewelry. If something is important enough for you to lock up, move it yourself.

Imagine via Pixabay,

Imagine via Pixabay.

Guns

While technically movers can move unloaded guns, loaded guns are out of the question. It’s simply best to move firearms yourself.

Image via Pixabay.

Image via Pixabay.

Plants

Moving trucks are a horrible environment for plants. They are hot and dry and they get absolutely no light. While plants might survive a short trip, they can be surprisingly expensive to move. Moving trucks are meant for stacking and you can’t stack plants. It’s also difficult to prop up plants without packing the pots in boxes.

Image via Wikimedia.

Image via Wikimedia.

Pets

For most people, it goes without saying that they should make other arrangements to transport pets, but you’d be surprised at how many customers ask that movers take their non-furry friends like fish, snakes and lizards. Moving trucks don’t have a lot of air and they can get very hot. Move all pets, including the non-furry kinds, yourself.

Image via Wikimedia.

Image via Wikimedia.

Flammables, Explosives and Corrosives

Leave your cleaning fluids, paint and your propane tanks behind, recycle them or move them in your car.

Featured image via Pixabay.

All The Best Ways To Keep In Touch With Your Old Friends; Some May Surprise You

in Advice, Long-Distance moving by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

In the age of social media, being able to keep in touch with old friends is easier than ever, but is it the best way?

Four_girls_friends_001

A few days ago, I was chatting with a friend (I’ll call her Amy) who’s a relatively new transplant to the area. Amy mentioned that she began friending most of her old friends and neighbors from 2,000 miles away. Surprisingly, she said, it depressed her because their posts only seemed to indicate how little her absence has changed their lives, while she feels like she is starting all over again.

I told Amy that people only tend to post happy moments on Facebook, so no matter how much they were missing her, it may not be evident on their Facebook profiles. So I began asking myself, what is a better way to keep in touch with old friends you may have left behind?

Social Media

Facebook is actually tailor made to keep in touch with old friends, but if you want to even try to mimic the feeling of being with your friends, it’s better to create a group rather than just follow their feeds. In the group, you can exchange memories and private jokes. You can get personal in a way that you never could on a public profile. Other social media platforms may allow you to have a group discussion, but I still prefer Facebook groups, for no other reason than that they are easier to follow.

Texting

Creating a text thread is less personal than a phone call, but it’s far easier to gather groups of friends. Drop them texts in real time as interesting things happen in your life.

Skype, Facetime, etc.

Once again, thank technology for letting you see your friends, instead of just hearing their voices or reading their digital messages.

Letters

If you can’t remember the last time you wrote or received a letter, you’re not alone, but it’s a great way to spend time collecting your thoughts and it’s a great way to tell a friend that not only are you thinking about them, you’re willing to spend the time proving it.

Journaling

This one wasn’t my idea:

If you’re anything like me, you were obsessed with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in your middle school years. You know how the traveling journal works. If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s about four best friends who find a pair of jeans that fit all of them. To keep in touch, they wrote in a journal about their adventures while wearing the pants, then mailed the journal and the pants to each other. This is perhaps the most creative way to keep in touch long distance. Since it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll find one pair of pants that fits you and your friends, though, sticking to the traveling journal will work. Set an amount of time for each person in the group to keep the journal. When your time is up, mail it to the next person. You can write entries about your life in the journal, doodle, and write comments on other people’s entries!

Source: MissMillMag

Go On Vacation

A group vacation beats normal day-to-day interactions any day.

Visit

Of course.

How are you keeping in touch with your old friends?

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.

When NOT To Move With A Moving Company – Even When You May Want To

in Advice, Local moving, Posts by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

It might sound weird to talk about not moving with a moving company — on a moving company’s blog — but for some people, moving with a moving company may not be the best choice.

When not to hire a moving company.

For the vast majority of people, hiring a moving company saves time, money (your time is worth money) and backs, but for a handful of people, moving yourself is the answer.

If you’re young and your best piece of furniture is an IKEA hand-me-down (not that there’s anything wrong with IKEA), it may not be worth paying professionals to move it.

If you just have a few boxes to ship, don’t hire a mover. Ship them through the Post Office, especially if those boxes contain books. The books may take a few weeks to arrive, but since many movers charge by weight for long-distance moves, you will save a lot of money if you have a lot of books. If there are books you need right away, take them with you.

If you have a single piece of furniture or two, call movers, but know that with most, it will not be cost effective. Some may have a few cubic feet of space that needs to be filled, and coincidentally, may be going to your area. They might be able to make you a good deal, but for most, it would be cost prohibitive to move just a couple of pieces of furniture, unless, of course, they are valuable and need special protection. If so, by all means, call a mover.

If you are clearing a home from a hoarder, don’t call a moving company until the home is cleared. Movers must have a safe place to work and when movers are contracted to pack, they pack everything they see. Sure, you could pay movers to help sort, but there are companies that specialize in hoarding situations. Any moving company would be happy to help once everything is at least somewhat organized.

10 Questions Everyone Is Afraid To Ask About Moving

in Advice, Posts by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

If you think about it, the relationship between mover and customer is rather intimate. The relationship takes days/weeks and sometimes even months. Movers enter your home, they handle your personal possessions. Sometimes, movers and customers can even become friends.

Still, there is a line that few customers refuse to cross. There are questions that might come up, but that sound too personal or too intrusive to ask. So, you don’t have to ask. We’re giving you the down and dirty right here. Here are 10 questions you might have thought to ask your mover, but you thought they might be inappropriate.

Head in Hands

  1. Where do the movers go to the bathroom? – For many people, the answer to the question is pretty obvious. When movers are inside a home, they will sometimes ask to use the facilities. The customer always has a right to say no and the mover can go to the nearest convenience store or gas station, but for most customers, it’s not too much of an issue.
  2. Do you ever hire women? – Absolutely! We love strong women and some of our crews are even led by women packers.
  3. What about lingerie and other *ahem* personal items? – Let me tell you a story. I once entered a customer’s home and in her bedroom was a giant machine that looked vaguely like a vacuum. It wasn’t. She was a sex therapist and the machine was a tool of her trade. The movers discovered that she had many tools of her trade. The bottom line is, don’t be embarrassed. This woman wasn’t. Movers have seen it all, and well, everyone has *ahem* personal items. Many customers feel more comfortable packing them themselves, but trust me, the movers won’t be paying attention. That takes far too much time.
  4. My house is filthy! – As are many of the homes our movers enter. The fact is that most people focus on packing during the weeks before the move and cleaning often goes neglected. As long as it’s sanitary in your home, our movers are fine.
  5. Do your movers ever steal? – No. Our movers are bonded and we run careful background checks on each and every one. If, however, something does come up missing, it’s usually found within days. We are happy to help you find missing items.
  6. Do I have to feed the movers? – No, you do not. You can, as a courtesy, but they have no right to expect food.
  7. Can my child ride in the truck? – In most cases, no. Our insurance doesn’t cover passengers who aren’t employees. The children are, however, welcome to tour the truck while it’s parked, with adult supervision.
  8. Have you ever broken anything? – Yes, despite decades of packing experience and despite being particularly careful, sometimes things do break. If this happens, let the dispatcher know. Our goal is to take care of our customers.
  9. What if I smell alcohol or marijuana on a mover’s breath? – So far, that hasn’t happened, but if it does, call the dispatcher. We have a zero tolerance policy. That mover will be immediately pulled off the job. He will either be replaced or if no replacement is available, you will be charged for the lesser number of movers.
  10. Tipping, you say I don’t need to tip, but is that real? Will the movers be upset if I don’t? – While we can’t control what’s inside a mover’s head, and some might secretly expect a tip, if they don’t deserve one or if you don’t have the extra money, they are required to stay quiet and polite.

How To Start A Neighborhood Watch Group

in Advice, Your New Home by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

You’ve probably read statistics lately that murder rates are up across the nation. You’ve probably been barraged with reports of murders across the Bay Area. There’s a grain of truth to the rise in the murder rate, but the figures have also been exaggerated. Regardless, people across the country are wondering how to keep themselves and their neighborhoods safe.

One old fashioned, but effective way, to keep your neighborhood safe is to start a neighborhood watch group. It is a commitment, but it costs nothing and it can yield safer neighborhoods. Here’s how to get started (from the National Crime Prevention Council):

  • Phase One: Getting Started — Meetings, Block Captains, and Maps
  • Form a small planning committee of neighbors to discuss needs, the level of interest, possible challenges, and the Watch concept.
  • Contact the local police or sheriffs’ department, or local crime prevention organization, to discuss Neighborhood Watch and local crime problems. Invite a law enforcement officer to attend your meeting.
  • Publicize your meeting at least one week in advance with door-to-door fliers and follow up with phone calls the day before.
  • Select a meeting place that is accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Hold an initial meeting to gauge neighbors’ interest; establish purpose of program; and begin to identify issues that need to be addressed. Stress that a Watch group is an association of neighbors who look out for each other’s families and property, alert the police to any suspicious activities or crime in progress, and work together to make their community a safer and better place to live.
    Phase Two: When the neighborhood decides to adopt the Watch idea Elect a chairperson.
  • Ask for block captain volunteers who are responsible for relaying information to members on their block, keeping up-to-date information on residents, and making special efforts to involve the elderly, working parents, and young people. Block captains also can serve as liaisons between the neighborhood and the police and communicate information about meetings and crime incidents to all residents.
  • Establish a regular means of communicating with Watch members—e.g., newsletter, telephone tree, e-mall, fax, etc.
  • Prepare a neighborhood map showing names, addresses, and phone numbers of participating households and distribute to members. Block captains keep this map up to date, contacting newcomers to the neighborhood and rechecking occasionally with ongoing participants.
  • With guidance from a law enforcement agency, the Watch trains its members in home security techniques, observation skills, and crime reporting. Residents also learn about the types of crime that affect the area.
  • If you are ready to post Neighborhood Watch signs, check with law enforcement to see if they have such eligibility requirements as number of houses that participate in the program. Law enforcement may also be able to provide your program with signs. If not, they can probably tell you where you can order them.
  • Organizers and block captains must emphasize that Watch groups are not vigilantes and do not assume the role of the police. They only ask neighbors to be alert, observant, and caring—and to report suspicious activity or crimes immediately to the police.

I would also add that neighborhood watch groups should take advantage of social media. Form a Facebook group or join a site like NextDoor, which you can limit to just your neighborhood.

Try to keep your group light and fun. Ask the police department to meet with the neighbors once a year. Plan barbecues and block parties or potlucks.

Remember, the more the merrier. Arguments will happen, but the block captain should try to keep everyone on the same page. Who knows, you might even make some friends.

Featured image via Wikipedia.

How Can Movers Help Me With An Estate?

in Advice by Ninja Movers Leave a comment
Featured image courtesy of Ken Mayer at Flickr

Featured image courtesy of Ken Mayer at Flickr

If you’ve ever been put in the position as executor of an estate, you know that it can be a lot of work, even if the deceased made arrangements beforehand. Organizing an estate is emotional and a lot of time consuming hard work, but you can make even a disorganized estate go more smoothly if you follow some basic guidelines.

1. Find all paperwork – if the deceased was organized, paperwork will either be in files at home, in bank safety deposit boxes, at an attorney’s office or at an accountant’s office. If the deceased wasn’t so organized, you might have to sort through all belongings to find relevant paperwork.

2. Contact an attorney – in the best of circumstances, the deceased will already have an attorney. If not, find a local probate attorney. He or she will advise you on the best ways to proceed.

3. Work with the funeral home and arrange to receive death certificates. Once you do receive them, notify all creditors, banks, the Social Security administration, pension offices, Medicare, insurance companies, drivers license bureau, etc. of the death.

4. Sort through belongings – if a will doesn’t specify that belongings to go a specific person, any valuables should be sold as part of the estate and divided between heirs. Donate the rest to charity and use it as a tax deduction for the estate.

5. Store belongings – if the estate needs to go into probate (the attorney will tell you) it may take a while before you are able to disperse the belongings. If the home needs to be sold, it’s a good idea to get a storage unit.

6. Open a bank account – you’ll need it to pay the estate’s debts. You can also pay day to day expenses out of the bank account without having to wait for the estate to come out of probate.

7. Pay debts and taxes – a CPA can be your best friend in this case.

A good moving company can come in very handy when dealing with an estate. They can help you pack, organize, store and move the belongings, even if they have to go to several different states.

If you are planning your estate, you can prearrange with your favorite moving company to help once the time comes. Payment can generally be made through the estate’s bank account, but check with your attorney.

 

 

 

How To Save Money When Moving Because Of Separation

in Advice, Moving Costs by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

family-law-329569_640Whether you’re separating from a spouse or from a roommate, you probably see costs adding up. Bills are suddenly doubling while the income isn’t. While Ninja Movers can’t really help with most of that, there are ways to help control the cost of the move, even if there is more than one.

It’s possible that if you are moving in the same general direction, your two moves could be treated as one. It takes a special sort of organization, but it could save on time.

If you are consolidating the moves, it’s critical that you are very well organized before hand. Label absolutely everything and color code it. Put colored sticky notes on furniture and mark boxes with matching colored labels or markers. It’s also a very good idea to inventory everything.

Instruct the movers that you will have two separate deliveries. They don’t need to have anymore information than that. Be assured, they don’t need the details of a messy divorce. While the movers can find which possessions need to be loaded first (the last and furthest stop), it will save you money to bring everything that will be unloaded last to the front. When they are done loading those items, they will load the items that will be unloaded first.

It’s best to arrange that one person pay the bill or that it be cut in half. The movers will not be able to itemize how much each move costs, although, and this is a big exception, if an estimator sees the move beforehand, he can give you a cost for each individual move. If you haven’t had an in-person estimate and if you feel that you aren’t in an amicable enough a situation to split the bill in half (or whatever prearranged split you discuss), it’s probably best to do two separate moves.

You also want to have separate moves if you are moving in different directions or if one person is moving out of state and the other is staying. Out of state moves are billed by weight while local moves are billed by the hour.

So You’re Thinking Of Renting Through Airbnb?

in Advice, Bay Area Real Estate by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

Depending on who you talk to, Airbnb is either the greatest thing since there was no room at the inn or it’s a way to help destroy the Bay Area’s already tight rental market.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

In case you aren’t familiar with Airbnb, it’s sort of like an eBay for short-term rentals, only without the bidding. Homeowners, or in many cases leaseholders, rent out either a room or the entire place for a nightly, weekly or monthly rate – presumably while they’re on jaunts of their own.

Since it’s relatively new to the market, there have been few regulations. Many landlords prohibit subletting and I assume that some leases are specifically mentioning that that applies to short-term rentals as well. But in cities like San Francisco, where the housing market is very tight for people who live here long-term, until recently, people have been hoarding properties and renting them out at higher short-term rates, rather than settle for lease prices.

In October of last year, San Francisco passed some regulations for the short-term rental market, including setting a maximum of 90 days a year for any given property and paying hotel taxes. Here is more information on the law.

If you still want to try it out, Airbnb might be a great way to help pay for your own vacation or a way to help finance your own living space without the commitment of a roommate.

Like eBay, Airbnb offers star ratings for both renters rentals. The more quality reviews, the better. That can be a bit of a sticky wicket at times. Even while you are on vacation, being disruptive or making too much noise can result in bad reviews. If you plan on really partying, you might want to stick with a hotel. Unfortunately, complaints can also ring up bad reviews, so if you clog the toilet while renting, it’s a good idea to fix it yourself.

On the other side, most is pretty obvious. Keep your place immaculate. Invest in coordinating linens. Paint the walls. Make sure everything works perfectly. Your goal in the beginning is to rack up good reviews, which might mean cutting your price and adding extra touches like gift cards to local restaurants, a box of chocolates or a bottle of California wine.

Give your guests a binder full of restaurant menus, public transportation information, local sights and activities. You also want to list any peculiarities your home may have, such as a door that needs to be lifted before opening.

Neighbors may not like the idea of strangers staying next door. You can do one of two things; you can either pretend they’re your friends or you can talk to your neighbors, telling them that you only rent to top-rated renters. I recommend the second.

While location is everything, there are many renters who want the San Francisco experience without paying San Francisco prices. If you are on the BART line or within easy commuting distance to the city, you can still generate good prices. Wine country is another huge draw, as is Silicon Valley, especially for business travelers.

There are no guarantees, though. I just plugged in my address and the monthly net was less than we pay every month. Regardless, check them out. It could be worth it for you.

How To Do A Move Out Clean In 20 Steps

in Advice, Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

vacuum-cleaner-268179_1280My absolute least favorite part of moving out is the move out clean. It seems so pointless. At the end of a brutal day or three of backbreaking cleaning, you end up with a spotless home that you have to leave behind. Why couldn’t it have looked like that when you lived there?

Of course, the reason it didn’t look like that when you lived there is because you lived there. People are messy. Just maintaining a decent amount of cleanliness is hard enough. Who has time to spit-polish the floors and appliances?

Unfortunately, if you rent, that’s what the landlord expects. If you own, the new owners didn’t charge you a security deposit, but it is courteous to leave them a clean home, unless they are renovating.

I promised myself that the next time I move out, I will hire professionals. As with the entire moving process, you have to weigh the value of your time vs. the cost of the service. If you decide to do the cleaning yourself, here are some steps to make it easier, or at least more thorough.

1. Invite a friend. This had better be a close friend because it’s damned hard work, but it will make everything go so much quicker.

Everywhere

2. Once the home is completely empty, except for cleaning supplies and a source of music, vacuum thoroughly. Vacuum the walls and the blinds. Vacuum inside all drawers and cabinets. If the carpet is stained, hire a professional to clean it.

3. Remove nails and screws from the walls and putty them.

4. Clean the baseboards and clean any marks on the wall. If the marks don’t come out, you may need to paint – always use a neutral color, preferably the same color as when you moved in.

5. Clean the windows, both inside and out.

6. Wipe down wall switches, outlets and doorknobs.

7. Dust ceiling fans and wash light fixtures and replace burned out bulbs.

Bathroom

8. Thoroughly scrub inside all cabinets, re-line if necessary.

9. Remove soap scum from bathtub and shower and bleach the grout.

10. Clean the bathroom fixtures, floors and the mirror.

11. Vacuum the fan.

Kitchen

12. Thoroughly scrub inside all cabinets, re-line if necessary.

13. Scrub all appliances inside and out.

Remove all the shelves and drawers from the refrigerator and clean them thoroughly. Wipe down the inside of the refrigerator and freezer.

Run the oven cleaner, if there is an automatic one, but be sure to remove all the ash at the end of the cycle. The oven cleaning is best done before move out day, so it has time to run through the cycle and cool.

If you don’t have an automatic cleaning oven, you’ll have to buy oven cleaner. Be sure to wear a mask when you are spraying. Still, you’ll want to do this before the move out day, since it will need to sit for 24 hours and then you’ll need to thoroughly scrub it out. Remember, the broiler pan is made from the same metal as the oven, so it will withstand both the heat of a cleaning cycle and the oven cleaner in a can.

14. If the sink is not stainless, remove all stains (bleach if necessary).

15. Finish off all surfaces, including counters, chrome faucets, mirrors and sinks, with window cleaner. It will make them shine.

16. Pull out the appliances and sweep under them. Wipe down the sides and the back as they are pulled out.

Everywhere

17. Clean the tile and hardwood floors.

18. Run the vacuum one more time and you are done with the inside.

Outside

19. Tidy up the outside, including mowing the lawn and pulling weeds.

20. Sweep and hose down the garage, patio and driveway.

Once you’re done, take a lot of pictures in case your landlord claims you have damaged something or that the place is dirty. Oh, and be sure to empty the trash.

Image courtesy Pixabay.

 

 

 

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