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The Best Ways To Get Rid Of Stuff Before You Move

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

If Americans are good at anything, it’s acquiring stuff, and when you’re moving, it means dealing with years, if not decades of acquired stuff, much of which hasn’t been touched in a very long time.

If you haven’t used or worn something for a year or two, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself if you really want to move it. Why should you, the more stuff needs to be moved, the more you’ll pay…sort of.

Allow me to explain. If you’re moving long-distance, you pay buy weight, so the less you have to move, the lighter the weight. If you’re moving locally, you pay by time. A handful of boxes here and there won’t make a noticeable difference on time, but if you are doing a major purge, you will definitely save money. More importantly, a purge is a way to give yourself a fresh start, and isn’t that part of what moving is about?

What are the best ways to get rid of stuff?

When purging, there are basically three options: sell them, donate them or throw them away.

Sell your items

When selling goods, there are a few ways to go. There are several apps where you can list your goods. Even Facebook now has a Marketplace. Tip: If you go the route of directly selling goods to strangers, bring a friend. You can also sell through Ebay.

Direct sales might bring in more money, but it’s potentially risky and it’s time consuming, and if you are moving, you probably don’t have a lot of extra time. Another option is to sell through consignment sites and consignment stores. You’ll do best consigning if your goods are relatively high-end and in very good condition. Regardless, never try to sell stained or torn items.

Donate your items

You won’t get money for your old goods if you decide to donate them, but you can get a decent tax deduction. Here’s a great article on some of the most common donation charities. You might prefer a more local option as well. Even when donating, make sure your items are in good condition.

Dispose of your items

For the items that aren’t in good condition, or things like old mattresses, disposing might be the only sanitary option. Call your local municipality or your local trash company. Most have available bulk item pickups.

Featured image via Unnar Ymir Björnsson/Flickr.

How To Prepare Your Home Office For A Move

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

It’s one thing to haphazardly throw your clothes in a box. The worst that might happen is some wrinkles. When it comes to your home office, though, a little organization now will save you weeks of headaches and it will get you up and running in the quickest amount of time possible.

If your home office’s organizational system needs a little improvement, like mine, now is the time to organize it.

1. File, shred, scan or do something with every single piece of paper

If you don’t own a good diamond cut shredder, buy one. Create files for taxes, for insurance, for investments, for credit cards, for utilities, for your home, for pets, for medical files, etc. A good filing system will make your life so much easier in the future. HGTV has some great hacks for creating a good system.

If you don’t need to keep the originals, and even if you do, it’s always wise to scan important papers and store them on an external hard drive. Separate out the really important papers like house deeds, car titles, Social Security cards, birth certificates, passports, etc. Move those yourself.

2. Label all cords

If you’re like most people, you have a drawer full of charging cords and no idea where they go. One is probably from that 2007 flip phone. It’s time to go through every cord. If it matches an item, label it with a sharpie and a bread tag. If it doesn’t, take it to an electronics recycling facility or to a store like Best Buy.

3. Back up your hard drive

There are several cloud and external hard drive options. Many prefer the latter for security, but the cloud has the advantage of being indestructible and you can’t lose it. If you back everything up to an external hard drive, take it with you.

4. Disassemble your electronics

Electronics are one of the items we typically recommend that movers pack, but if you do decide to pack electronics, first disassemble them. Label the cords just like the cords above. If you have the original boxes, those are always preferable, but if you don’t, you can purchase boxes from your mover. Here are some tips.

If you have any questions or you need some help packing your home office, Ninja Movers is here for you.

How Many Movers Do You Need For Your Move?

in Local moving by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

One of the biggest misconceptions in moving is that less is better when it comes to manpower. On one level, it makes sense. For local moves, customers generally pay per hour per mover. Fewer movers mean a cheaper move, right? Well, not exactly.

For lack of a better term for the hardworking men and women who pack boxes and lift heavy furniture for 8-12 hours a day, movers are important tools. As any mechanic or handyman will tell you, it you don’t have the right tools for the job, the job won’t get done right.

It’s the same with moving. If you don’t have enough movers, the move will take much longer and it could even end up costing you more. How? For one, tired movers are slower movers, and if they don’t have the help they need, they will become unnecessarily tired.

More than that, though, each mover in a move has a very specific role. One or more might pack. A couple might wrap furniture and another loads the truck.

Sure, too many movers can trip over each other. That’s why a moving company should know as much as possible about your move before arriving. That way they can properly prepare and make your move as fast and as inexpensive as possible.

How many movers do you need?

Naturally, the answer to that question depends on your home. While things can vary (I’ve seen one bedroom homes need five or six movers), here is a general rule:

A typical studio or one bedroom apartment will need two movers (one mover is a very bad idea and generally never done, even for tiny moves).

Two and three bedroom homes generally need three to four movers.

Four bedroom homes typically need four to five movers.

Anything larger than that can vary and will absolutely need an on-site assessment.

There are several variables. If you have a lot of stuff, or if you are very minimalist, things might be different. If you have stairs or if the truck needs to park far away from your front door, an extra mover might be called for. If you have a piano, it might require an extra mover or two. Talk to your moving coordinator.

Sunnyvale Is About To Get A Lot Bigger, Thanks To Google

in Bay Area Real Estate by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

The 27th largest company in the world is about to get a lot bigger and Sunnyvale is about to gain a lot more jobs.

Image via Pixabay.

According to Mercury News:

Blue Angels LLC, an entity with direct ties to Google, and with offices at the tech giant’s headquarters, paid $18.9 million on Sept. 14 for a low-slung industrial building at 1190 Borregas Ave. in Sunnyvale. The building totals just under 33,000 square feet and the price works out to $576 a square foot.

Google on Sept. 20 bought a 27,000-square-foot building at 270 E. Caribbean Drive, according to Santa Clara County property records. That price was even higher: $20.2 million, or $747 a square foot.

Google is purchasing, and in some cases, leasing, several buildings in Moffett Park. The buildings were originally built for the aerospace, defense and tech industries.

They are also moving into a couple of office towers just a half mile away near Crossman Avenue and East Java Drive. The towers are part of a 15.5 acre campus called Moffett Gateway.

“No one has witnessed the magnitude of growth that Google has exhibited over the last decade, not from Cisco, not from Apple,” said Phil Mahoney, vice chairman with Santa Clara-based Newmark Cornish & Carey, a commercial realty brokerage.

What about jobs at Google?

Google plans on filling those buildings with up to 15,000 to 20,000 employees. Presumably, a good number of those will be already existing employees, but they will still be hiring several. After all, they are growing at a steady rate of 21 percent per year. More than 75,000 people currently work for the internet behemoth.

What about housing?

Where Google plans to house their new employees is still a mystery. Housing in Sunnyvale is so tight that earlier in the month, a home sold for a whopping $782,000 over list price.

Your eyes do not deceive you: The four-bed, two-bath house — less than 2,000 square feet — listed for $1,688,000 and sold for $2,470,000.

Source: Mercury News

Even now, some Google employees are living in the parking lot at Google’s campus. With the average rent at over $2,500 per month, who can blame them?

Bay Area Real Estate Is Crazier Than Ever — How Do You Win A Bidding War?

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

Earlier in the month, news broke that a house in Sunnyvale sold for almost $800,000 over the asking price. It was a modest, by middle Americans standards, three bedroom, two bath house. The house is only about 1,200 square feet, which is less than half the average American home. It caused a bidding war and next thing anyone knew, it sold for $2,470,000, which was $782,000 over list.

What is a bidding war?

Bidding wars have become the norm in California real estate. Savvy real estate agents often intentionally list homes on the low end, hoping to encourage bidding wars. The tactic works. That Sunnyvale home had 15 offers, seven of which were from people who worked at either Apple or Google.

It’s not just Silicon Valley. When we bought our East Bay home, we lost several properties to bidding wars, and ultimately to cash offers, before settling on our “needs a little work” choice.

Can a regular person win a bidding war?

If you are an executive at Google or Apple (or at any number of tech firms), you might not have a problem, but for those of us who have solid middle class incomes, a low down payment and good credit, is there a chance?

While it is tough to compete with billionaires and those with all-cash offers, there are ways to help boost your chances. Here are some tips from CNBC:

  1. Get pre-approved and pull together some cash — Sellers don’t have the patience these days to deal with uncertainty. They want to know that any offer is set in stone, so make sure you are pre-approved for your loan and try, if at all possible, to put down at least 20 percent.
  2. Be quick — In a hot housing market, look at the hunt as a second job. Don’t rely on just your realtor. Drive your desired neighborhoods and religiously scan Realtor.com for new listings. Try to schedule immediate viewings. The goal is to be the first offer.
  3. Include an escalation clause in your offer — Ask your real estate agent to include an escalation clause that will allow you to top other offers, up to your desired upper limit. The clause, if properly worded, will raise your offer to just above the highest current bid. For example, if you list your highest bid at $500,000 and the current highest offer is $480,000, your official bid will be about $481,000.
  4. Inspection — While nearly every expert recommends that a homebuyer have the house inspected, in a seller’s market, it could disqualify you. Instead, CNBC recommends that you go ahead with the inspection before making the offer. You will have to pay for it, but the seller will be happy to know that you won’t back out because of previously unforeseen problems with the house.
  5. Charm the sellers — Unless your seller is just an investor, they have invested a decent portion of their lives in that house. Sure, they want to maximize their profit, but they also want to know that the house will be loved. Send them a house love letter (your agent can forward it). Include pictures of your family.
  6. Remember it’s not just about winning — Winning a bidding war is great, unless you don’t really want the prize. Spend some time in the neighborhood. Check out the schools. Also have your agent check “comps” or comparable sales to make sure you aren’t overpaying for the home. As tight as our housing market is, it’s still better to rent than to dramatically overpay for a house you didn’t really want.

More Than Half Of San Jose Home Sales Have A Co-Signer

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

Earlier in the year, San Jose was named the most unaffordable city in the country. It’s no wonder, with the median home cost at about $900,000. Still, with a population of over 1 million, and growing, people are making San Jose home sales work.

How are people in San Jose able to buy homes?

A report in September may explain how people are still buying real estate, despite the high costs. They’re getting help. According to a report from Attom Data Solutions, which compiles nationwide property data, just over half (50.9 percent) of San Jose’s homeowners bought with the help of a co-signer — that’s more than in any other city.

The report shows that for the first time, more than half of all home-purchase deals in San Jose involve co-borrowers. No other city has topped the majority.  San Jose was followed by 45.2 percent in Miami; 39.1 percent in Seattle; 31.1 percent in Los Angeles; 29.4 percent in San Diego; and 28.8 percent in Portland.

“Climbing home prices are forcing more and more borrowers to consider other options, such as leveraging a parent’s credit, in order to qualify to buy,” Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, said in the report.

Source: Mercury News

The good news is that percentage wise, homeowners in San Jose have more equity than in other cities. Partly because they are making bigger down payments and partly because San Jose’s real estate market is so strong. Nationally, the median down payment is only about 7.3 percent of the median price of a home.

Now look at the numbers for San Jose, where buyers put down 25.2 percent of the median price of a home. Again, that was the highest median down payment in the U.S., followed by San Francisco (22.3 percent), Los Angeles (19.3 percent); Naples, Florida (18.5 percent); and the Oxnard-Thousand-Oaks-Ventura metro in southern California (17.4 percent).

Perhaps the same people co-signing on the mortgages are also helping with the down payment, which of course, makes the mortgage payments far more affordable.

Featured image via David Sawyer/Flickr.

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.

How You Can Help The Pets Displaced Because Of Hurricane Harvey

in News by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

As Hurricane Harvey was about to make landfall, my husband expressed mild dismay at the people who refused to evacuate. His stance softened when I mentioned the impossibility of evacuating nearly 2.5 million people. It softened even more when I mentioned that many of the shelters wouldn’t take pets. We would never abandon our pets, we smugly proclaimed.

170828-Z-ZZ999-010AEven that, though, is just a fraction of the picture. I would imagine that most people are like us. They would never abandon their pets out of choice, but when you are at work, or shopping, when the hurricane hits, pets might be left alone and there’s no way to reach them, a fact that leaves millions of pets with no homes, no food and no love.

You can help, though. According to the director of the SPCA in Cincinnati, Harold Dates, giving money is by far the best way to help.

“The best way to offer assistance is to go to the Houston SPCA website, or the Humane Society of the United States or the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Those groups are the coordinating agencies for relief to go there.”

However, he cautions you not to donate cat or dog food, as there’s no way to get it to Houston right now.

“Trying to do dog food or trying to do other things, it just gets spoiled in the process,” Dates said. “Pet food companies typically donate cases of food, and send them down in special tractor trailer trucks.”

Source: WCPO

While ultimate goal is to reunite lost pets with their owners, for many, that will be impossible. As many as 100,000 pets were left homeless during Hurricane Katrina. Things have improved somewhat since Katrina. Many shelters do allow pets. Texas law requires that evacuation plans must include pets and service animals. But many, many pets will be sent to shelters across the nation and short of adopting or volunteering at a shelter, the best thing you can do is give money.

Featured image via Defense.gov.

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.

How To Decorate A Dorm Room; Send Your College Student Off In Style

in Decorating by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

My freshman dorm room was hardly something I bragged about. I slept on a shabby mattress, did my homework on a shabby desk and my idea of decorating included throwing up a couple of posters and having a decent bed set. As I recall, one of those posters had to be rather large to cover the huge stain on the wall above my bed.

3820949508_6e553d7776_bI could have been embarrassed by this dorm room, but I wasn’t, simply because they were almost all as bad as mine. Just don’t ask me about my really strange first roommate.

I have no idea what that dorm room looks like today, but I’m sure it’s safe to say the stain on the wall is gone (at least I hope it is) and I’m sure they changed out the mattress. One thing I do know for sure is that the pressure to have a nice dorm room is greater than ever.

With rapidly rising tuition costs, there isn’t always much room in the budget for fancy decor. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a lot to make your student’s room both comfy and inviting.

Decorate to your student’s personality

Let your child’s personality flourish in their first place away from home, but to avoid conflict, take the roommate shopping so they can both agree on decisions. Use removable picture hangers to hang artwork. Buy some plants and knick-knacks, and of course, buy bedding that matches your child’s personality. A rug will make getting ready for those brutal 8:00 am classes in the winter just a little less brutal.

Some schools will let you loft beds. This can create a lot of room for a desk and even a futon.

Create entertainment space

Even if your child was a wallflower in high school, don’t assume they’ll be the same in college. It’s amazing how living in close proximity with people your own age can sometimes turn even the shyest people into near extroverts.

To create entertainment space, turn the bed into a day bed with lots of comfy pillows. The bed has to be up against the wall for this to work. If the dorm allows, purchase a small refrigerator and a small microwave for snacks. If your child drinks coffee, rather than having them blow their spending money at Starbucks, buy them a coffee maker or even an inexpensive espresso/cappuccino maker. Buy some decent external speakers for their computer, and viola, entertaining space.

You can also add seating with some multifunctional pieces like storage ottomans.

Create a comfortable study space

This is probably even more important than creating the entertainment space. Most dorm rooms come with desks, which is great. Rather than adding personality with clutter, let your student pick out a desk set that matches their personality. Don’t forget to add a plant, and if there’s room, perhaps a gold fish in a bowl. That’s one way to combat dreariness. Another is to move the desk near the window.

Avoid the roommate

If your child’s first roommate is anything like mine, you’ll want to create some private space. This can be done with a bookcase or even an old fashioned room divider.

Bring reminders from home

Being thrown into the lions’ den of college can be a bit of a culture shock for someone who’s never been on their own. Send your child with a couple of things from their bedroom at home and perhaps with some family pictures. Arrange the pictures as a collage on one wall. It will be both chic and comforting.

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