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It’s Time To Move Out Of Your Apartment; How To Get Your Security Deposit Back

in Articles, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Whether you’ve lived in your apartment six months or six years, there’s sure to be some signs that yes, someone has lived there. Perhaps the carpet is a bit worn, perhaps there is a small stain on the hardwood floor or some holes in the wall. While a landlord legally needs to expect some wear and tear, it’s sometimes a struggle getting them to accept that fact. The best way to guarantee you’ll get your deposit back, other than abiding by the terms of the lease, is if you leave your apartment in the best condition possible — and that means cleaning.

The last thing you want to think about as you’re about to enter your next life adventure is cleaning the place you’re leaving behind, but for the cash, it’s definitely worth it. Fortunately, the American Apartment Owners Association has released a checklist for getting your apartment in shipshape. Frankly, it’s a helpful list for your spring cleaning as well.

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You can download the list for free here.

This isn’t the time to cut corners. One in four renters never get their security deposits back. Interestingly, it seems there is more pressure for women to keep a clean place than there is for men. While many lost their deposits for reasons like breaking the lease, many lost theirs for inexplicable reasons.

The biggest reason for landlords withholding security deposits was a tenant moving out early, according to the survey. Almost half — 44 percent — of renters ages 18 to 24 and 33 percent of men who responded to the survey cited breaking the lease agreement as the reason they didn’t get their security deposits back. Nine percent of women and 3 percent of men in the survey of 1,000 respondents said that they lost their security deposits because of pet damage.

But the most alarming statistic: 36 percent of respondents said that their landlords offered no explanation at all for why they were withholding security deposits.

moving-checklist

Fortunately for renters, California laws are pretty much on their side, with some exceptions, and cleaning is one of them.

In California, there are only four reasons why a landlord may withhold a security deposit: to cover unpaid rent, to clean the rental when a tenant moves out, to repair damages caused by the renter, or to replace furnishings (only if the lease agreement explicitly states that this is allowable).

With our exorbitant rents, it’s definitely worth it to spend a few additional hours, even if you have to hire someone, so you get back what’s rightfully yours.

Featured image via Pixnio.

Where To Find Free (Or Almost Free) Boxes

in Posts, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

If it’s been a while since you’ve moved, you might have forgotten to factor in one major cost, the boxes that protect and organize everything you own.

Now, if the movers are packing for you, the cost of the boxes will automatically be calculated into the estimate, as long as you’ve chosen a reputable company. If you are packing for yourself, though, the movers may or may not mention packing materials (which include paper, tape and markers) but you have choices:

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Where can I get free or inexpensive boxes?

1. Buy them from the movers – This is definitely the easiest way, but it may not be the cheapest. Advantage, the movers will deliver them to you for free, and yes, they take up a lot of room in a car.

2. Ask the movers if they have any used packing material – Used boxes can be risky. They often come damaged, but generally, the used boxes you get from moving companies will only be sold (or sometimes given) to you if they are in good condition. Still, with any used boxes, check for damage, including water damage, tears and cleanliness.

3. Check sites like Craigslist or Nextdoor – They usually have free boxes, but again, be careful of the condition.

4. Home Improvement Stores – Home improvement stores like Home Depot have a lot of packing supplies and at reasonable prices.

Whatever you do, do not get used boxes from the grocery store. Even if you can find some that have lids (most don’t these days), they are likely damaged and have been at least damp if not downright wet.

As for the quantity of packing materials you need, your mover will be happy to help you, but Moving.com has a handy calculator that is a great place to start. Who knows? If you ask your mover, they might also be able to get you a great deal.

Featured image via Nicolas Huk/Getty Images.

Get To Know Your Neighbors In A Place Where No One Knows Their Neighbors

in Your New Home by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Technology is amazing. Social media enables us to make friends across the world. Texting enables us to send people a quick “thinking of you” or get up to date without sacrificing too much time. Smartphones give you constant access to your emails. What may be lost in all of this, though, is face to face communication, and especially communication with your neighbors.

About 1/3 of Americans have never met their neighbors. This has gone up from about 20 percent during the 1970s. While for many, especially for those who are introverted, or perhaps just busy, that doesn’t sound like a bad deal. You could, however, be missing out. While your neighbors may or may not be friends, there are a lot of advantages to at least getting acquainted.

As different as you might be, you and your neighbors have one very important thing in common. Obviously, you both live in the same neighborhood. While apps and social media sites like Nextdoor are great places to exchange information, for things that are specific to your block or to your front yard, there’s nothing like personal interaction.

Since it’s no longer expected to meet your new neighbors, finding an opening might seem a bit less organic, but really, all it takes is a smile and a wave. When I moved into my home, I knocked on the doors on either side and across the street. Since then, I’ve become on a first name basis with two other homes. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but if my house incurs a break-in or if one of my dogs gets out, I know I can enlist my neighbors for information, if not for help.

It does sound a little old fashioned, but some homemade food goes a long way. Of course, there are many dietary restrictions these days, so when in doubt, a basket of fruit can win over even the most reclusive neighbors (or at least it can help).

Inviting them over for dinner, a barbecue or coffee is a great ice breaker, or perhaps you can ask for restaurant suggestions and take them out for a meal.

Children, of course, are natural conversation starters. Ask about local parks and activities, and maybe what to beware of. If your children are close in age, introduce them. Let them take it from there, though.

Even if your neighbors don’t end up being close friends, you might end up having someone who can keep a spare key for you or help out in a pinch. At the very least, they’ll be someone who will return your mail that’s accidentally delivered to them.

Featured image via Pexels.

The Three Weird Things You Probably Don’t Think You Need To Pack In Boxes

in Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

It’s moving day. You take one last glance around your home before the movers arrive, just to make sure that you haven’t forgotten to pack anything. All you see is a sea of cardboard and your furniture. You’re good, you think. There are three things, though, if you are like many moving customers, that you have likely forgotten to pack, and even if you did remember them, how exactly do you pack them?

No, you don't need to pack your cat.  Image via Douglas O'Brien/Getty Images.

No, you don’t need to pack your cat.
Image via Douglas O’Brien/Flickr
.

Here are the three things most people don’t even know they need to pack:

1. Lamps – Lamps are one of the most commonly forgotten items when it comes to preparing for moves. While some metal lamps might be tough enough to go unpacked, if a lamp can be dented or broken, you want to put it in a box. Even if your lamp is made from sturdy metal, you still want to remove the lightbulb and pack that. To pack a lamp, either ask your mover for help or use a dish pack or a specially designed lamp box. For standing lamps, tape two of the boxes together to make one tall box. Wrap the lamp very carefully in paper or in cloth (moving blankets are perfect). Stuff any extra space in the box with paper and pick up the box and lightly shake to make sure there is no movement inside. If not, you’re good to go. Just seal it up. If so, add more paper then seal the box.

2. Pictures and mirrors – Unless you are moving a picture that is virtually indestructible, every single picture or mirror in your home should be in a box. Smaller pictures can fit in dish packs or smaller boxes, as long as they are well wrapped. Bigger pictures, though, need their own boxes. You can buy picture/mirror boxes from your mover and they can fit up to two pictures. As with lamps, make sure they are very well wrapped and that the packed box has no room for movement.

3. Mattresses – For many, mattresses are among their most expensive pieces of furniture. Some movers require mattresses to be in bags (easiest) but some require boxes. It’s recommended that you let the movers take care of your mattress. If you find a mover that says a mattress doesn’t need to be packed, find another mover. That’s how mattresses become dirty and torn.

Before you panic, the good news is that all of these items can be taken care of for a relatively nominal fee from your mover.

The Healthiest Real Estate Markets Are Right In Our Backyard

in Bay Area News, Bay Area Real Estate by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

While Bay Area real estate is still some of the most expensive in the country, the market has been slowing down somewhat. Still, some markets are healthier than others, and as it turns out, two of the healthiest real estate markets in California are right in our backyards.

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The healthiest market for home sales and for home values is Fremont. Fremont is even affordable, at least with Bay Area wages. The average Fremont homeowner spends only about 22.5% of their income on housing costs. That’s good news in a country where many spend upwards of half their income on housing. Still, the median home value in Fremont is pushing $1 million, which means incomes must be equally healthy.

The fourth healthiest market is San Jose, where people spend about 21 percent of their income on housing. Their homes are somewhat more affordable, but still out of reach for most Americans, at $862,800. So again, expect to need a good salary to not be house poor.

For both Fremont and San Jose, homes sell in fewer than 25 days on average, so expect bidding wars if you are buying or selling in those cities. In the 7th healthiest market, though, a home will spend even less time on the market. In Oakland, people spend just over a quarter of their income on housing with a median home value of almost $680,000.

While only three Bay Area cities made it into the study’s top 10, it’s fair to say that those three cities at least partially represent the market as a whole. The housing market here is still healthy, at least for a while.

How To Deal With Stressed Out Pets During The Move

in Posts, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Moving is stressful on everyone, but far too often, our pets, while they are family, are afterthoughts when it comes to the move. Of course, you are busy planning the move and probably packing, but with just a little time and preperation, you can ease the transition and help alleviate stressed out pets.

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1.

Use a crate

If your pet will use a crate, the crate will be your best friend during the move. It’s comforting for pets, like their own little safe den. It also keeps them out of the way when the movers are doing their jobs — if you don’t have another place to take them.

2.

Make time every day

Pets are very intuitive. Even if you haven’t started packing, they tend to know something is up. Once the boxes come out, they start freaking out. Tired pets are less stressed pets, so take some time every day to exercise them. Yes, a dog walker can help, but your pet wants to spend time with you. Play games with your cat. Spend 30 minutes to play fetch with or walk your dog.

3.

Make alternate arrangements for moving dayArrange accommodations at your new home

If you are moving out of the area, it’s best to make arrangments in advance for pet care people. Companies like Rover.com can arrange for pre-screened people to take care of your furry loved ones, whether for just the moving in day or for help while you work.

5.

Plan carefully for the actual move

If you are moving within the area, transporting your pets is relatively easy. If you are moving out of state, it’s sometimes best to drive them, but that’s not always possible. Nearly everyone has heard of flying pets, but it’s become controversial, sometimes undeservedly so. Transporting your pet by air is generally quite safe, but there are companies that specialize in shipping pets. Here is some good information on flying pets.

Featured image via Flickr.

How You Can (Almost) Have Fun On Moving Day – If You Can Afford It

in Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Who the heck has a fun moving day — well, you can.

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The first time you moved, you probably gathered a few friends, bought some beer and pizzas and loaded a pickup truck, or perhaps a rental truck, and hoped and prayed that everything ended up at your destination in one piece. Even if it didn’t, it wasn’t that big a deal.

Years or decades later, you’d be amazed at the number of people who still move like that, only now, muscles are tighter, backs are weaker, friends tend to be scarcer on moving day and you care a lot more about your belongings. Besides, isn’t it time you stopped busting your butt and had a *gasp* fun moving day?

For many, a sign of adulthood is hiring movers. Still, for most, watching their budget still limits what they can pay movers to do. While most of us are packing our boxes or cleaning our homes, we can’t help but fantasize about what rich people do when they move. Is it really so different?

The short answer to that question is yes, rich people do do it differently, but it doesn’t have to be all that different. Here are five things you can do to move like rich people and some of them might actually save you money.

1. Pay the movers to pack and unpack – Yes, this is a luxury, but not as much as you think. Packing and unpacking can about double the price of your move, but if you factor in the cost of your time, you might come out ahead, even if you aren’t rich.

2. Pay cleaning people – There is nothing more brutal than cleaning up years of dirt that’s been lodged behind your furniture, or the sudden realization that after a hard week’s work, you still have to spend hours cleaning. The solution is simple, though. Pay someone.

3. Go to a spa – This is the ultimate indulgence and will only work if you have someone you can trust at home supervising. Talk about a stress-free move.

4. Go on vacation – Yes, rich people do this. Who wants to live with upheaval if they don’t have to. Of course, you have to have a reliable person to supervise, which leads me to the last one…

5. Hire an independent moving consultant – This might be a little tougher. Most moving consultants work for moving companies, but to protect your interests, find an independent consultant who can look out for your needs. She can hire cleaners and painters and packers and even supervise the move. It will cost money to hire a specialist like this, but she could end up saving you money by using her expertise to hire only the most reputable movers.

You might not be rich, but really, if you spend a few bucks, all you will need to do come moving day is drive to your new home. Now, doesn’t that sound relaxing? Maybe you can even have a fun moving day.

Featured image via Obra Shalom Campo Grande/Flickr.

What’s With All The One Bathroom Houses In The Bay Area?

in Bay Area Real Estate, Decorating by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

While in the rest of the country, you might be able to buy a 3,000 square foot house for less than $500,000, here in the Bay Area, we’re lucky to get more than one bathroom in a 1,000 square foot house in am up and coming neighborhood. So, how does a family live in one of these one bathroom houses?

Bathroom_for_suite_-_Paris_Opera_Cadet_Hotel

It’s not impossible. With these tips, one bathroom can become manageable, although I’m not going to promise that two wouldn’t be better.

1. If it fits, add a second sink.

Many older homes (and let’s face it, most Bay Area homes are), have more counter space than sink space. If you have the room, add a second sink. The plumbing is already there, so it’s an easy fix for any plumber. It will, at the very least, enable one person to put on makeup and another to brush their teeth.

2. Build a wall around the toilet

Privacy on the toilet is often a priority among the closest of spouces, let alone entire families. A wall hiding the toilet can offer the privacy someone needs. If there’s room, consider a door along with a couple of walls. That would ensure total privacy and unless two people need to use the toilet at the same time, it solves all problems of privacy.

3. Think high

Most single bathrooms are small and lack storage space. Shelves can be a lifesaver. Build them high, which gives you the added bonus of fooling the eye to making the room seem more expansive.

4. Change your sink

Even if you don’t have room for a second sink, make the best of one by making sure it has storage. Pedestal sinks are a no-no when there is just one bathroom. The under sink storage is imperative. If you can’t afford a new sink, there are shelving units that are designed to o around pedestal sinks.

h2>5. Outsource

The only things that have to be done in the bathroom are, well, going to the bathroom and bathing. The rest can be done outside the bathroom if necessary. In a pinch, teeth can be brushed over the kitchen sink. Purchase bedroom vanities for putting on makeup and for drying and styling hair.

Believe it or not, large families in years past typically made do with one bathroom. Human needs haven’t changed, but the amount of stuff we have has. Minimize and be strategic. There will be challenges, but it can be done.

If You Plan On Selling Your Home, Do It Now; Here’s Why

in Bay Area Real Estate, Real Estate by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

If you own a home in the Bay Area, congratulations. You own property in one of the most expensive metropolitan areas of the country, but ironically, the cost of real estate now may be why the cost of your home could soon tumble.

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According to a poll by the Bay Area Council, millennials are becoming fed up with the high cost of living in the Bay Area. 40 percent of them want to leave. That’s up from 34 percent last year.

The desire to leave the Bay Area was tied to how much of a person’s income went towards housing costs. Among respondents spending 60 percent or more of their income on housing, more than half are planning an escape. Other factors identified by survey respondents as serious include traffic, poverty and income inequality.

One insight the survey revealed was a generational gap in residents looking to depart for cheaper destinations. According to the survey, 46 percent of millennials saying they are looking to leave, leading all age groups. To (Bay Area Council President, Jim) Wunderman, that data doesn’t bode well for future economic growth, especially with big-picture economic indicators like job growth slowing.

“In order to effect meaningful change, we have to signal to the people who live here as well as people who are looking to the region that we’re ready to take on the challenges of making the Bay Area a place that feels like the future.”

Source: San Francisco Business Journal

None of this is particularly surprising. San Francisco is the second most expensive city in the country, just after New York. With average housing prices at nearly $3,500, it’s easy to imagine how people would become frustrated and want to leave our beautiful area.

The good news is, if you have a home, especially a house, outside the city, you might be hit slightly less if millennials start the exodus. Millennials without families tend to live either in San Francisco or in Silicon Valley, and generally in apartments. Still, if you are thinking of selling, now might be the time to do it.

The Five Best Reasons To Have Movers Pack For You, And Two For Why They Shouldn’t

in Posts, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Saying that moving isn’t fun is right up there with saying that ice cream is sweet and that the sky is blue. It’s obvious. Even the most organized moving customers toy with the idea of letting the movers do everything, including pack. There are a lot of good reasons for it and maybe two reasons you might decide against it.

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It saves a lot of time – In a working household, packing can take weeks or sometimes even months. Professional movers can generally knock the packing out in a day. Think about it, you only have to live with mountains of cardboard for a day instead of weeks.

It saves a lot of mess – See above about the cardboard boxes. You can even pay the movers to unpack and haul away all the packing material. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?

It gets done right – I’m not implying you aren’t a good packer, not at all, but professional movers do it for a living. The best moving companies only allow their most experienced people to do the packing and their most most experienced people to pack fragile items.

Everything is labeled in a way the movers can understand – You might ask why you should care what the movers do or don’t understand, but trust me, clear labeling helps the move go a lot faster. If the movers pack the boxes, they will label them in a way that tells them how to load the boxes on the truck and where to place them in the new home.

There’s no question of liability – This one is not as important as it sounds, but it is important. When movers pack and something gets broken, you know where to point the finger. While liability is very limited, as per federal and state law, you might have insurance that ensures only against mover damage.

While all of this sounds amazing, why wouldn’t you want to have the movers pack for you?

It costs money – While packing is surprisingly reasonable, one of the ways movers suggest to save money is to pack yourself. Of course, you want to weigh the packing rate against the value of your own time, but if you find that you can afford to spend the time, do it.

Movers pack everything – Wait, is this a problem? It depends. If you use moving as an excuse to clear out a lot of clutter, professional movers won’t do that. They don’t know what you do and don’t want to keep unless you tell them.

Of course, there’s a middle ground. Many customers hire movers for what’s called a partial pack. Let them pack your breakables and you can save time and money and sort through the things you no longer want.

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