Author Archives: Deanna Lawley

10 Apps to Help Choose Your Perfect Neighborhood

published by on February 6, 2015News

agentapps

Preparing to move comes with many unknowns — starting with the neighborhood. Finding a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle is almost as important as the house you buy. Below are the most important factors to consider when narrowing down your list of possible new hoods.

1. Nearby Amenities

While distance to gas stations, pharmacies and grocery stores might not seem important when starting your search, these amenities will be invaluable after you are settled in. Before choosing a neighborhood, scout the area for the closest grocery stores, healthcare centers and bank locations. All of these factors will contribute to a more convenient lifestyle.

Apps that can help: Werzit (Free, iOS/Android), AroundMe (Free, iOS/Android)

 

2. Local Market Details

You’ve mapped the distance to the nearest Target and Starbucks, but how much do you know about the local real estate market and community? Begin your home search on a site like HomeFinder.com, that includes  important community details and market information. Also do thorough research on the taxes. You might have found your dream house, in your dream area, but the taxes could price you out of the neighborhood.

Apps that can help:HomeFinder.com Real Estate Search (Free, iOS/Android), Mortgage Calculator by Quicken Loans (Free, iOS/Android)

 

3. Transportation Options

Access to transportation (both public transportation and highway access) are an important part of your everyday life. After visiting a prospective neighborhood, drive around the area and note access to major interstates or highways. If you live in a metropolitan area, research what public transportation options are available to you. Using public transit to your advantage can help cut back on costs like gas and general car maintenance.

Apps that can help: Transit (Free, iOS/Android), Moovit (Free, iOS/Android)

 

4. Commute

Does your preferred neighborhood come with a long commute to work, friends or family? Consider if you’re willing to sacrifice the extra time spent on the road for your prime location. Purchasing a home within walking distance to a downtown area might cost more, but in exchange you will have the luxury of a quick walk to town, or easy train access if you are commuting from a suburb.

Apps that can help: Commute (Free, iOS/Android), Waze (Free, iOS/Android), Walk Score (Free, iOS/Android)

 

5. School District

Even if you don’t plan on using the school system, buying a home in a neighborhood with a great school district can benefit you. Purchasing a home in these areas can result in a higher resale value and offer protection from instabilities in the market. If there are school-aged children in your family, look beyond testing statistics and research core competencies, extracurriculars and teacher credentials and support. Learn more about why school district should impact your home search here.

Apps that can help:GreatSchools Finder (Free, iOS)

 

After you find your new locale, use these tips to give you and your family a fresh start in your new neighborhood.


Moving Industry Trends: 2014 in Review and 2015 Forecast

published by on December 15, 2014Before You Move Tips

Couple carrying boxes

As the housing market continues to recover, MovingCompanyReviews.com anticipates that competition within the moving industry will intensify, due to an increasing number of home sales. According to the National Association of Realtors, home sales are expected to be higher in 2015 and this growth in home sales  will benefit both buyers and sellers, as improvements in inventory, slower price gains and pent-up demand contribute to the trend.

MovingCompanyReviews.com (MCR), a site that connects consumers with reliable moving companies, identified 2014’s moving industry trends and predicts how housing trends will impact the moving industry in 2015.

Moving on up

According to MCR data, 2014 was a year of expansion as consumers moved into larger sized homes. The median square footage of homes consumers moved from was 1,100 square feet, and moved into homes that were a median of 1,728 square feet.

On a national level, consumer moving trends indicated:

MCR3

 

On the move

According to MCR data, out of state moves make up approximately 20% of moves on the site. In 2014, the top five states where the most consumers moved from were:

MCR1

In 2014, the top five states where the most consumers moved into were:

MCR2

Preparing for 2015

As home sellers, buyers and renters prepare for 2015, hiring professional movers is likely to be on their moving checklists. MCR anticipates the five below trends will be prevalent in the moving industry in 2015.

1) Mover availability will be tight in spring and summer months. 2014 was the strongest move season in years according to MCR’s moving company customer feedback. This increase resulted in a nationwide truck driver shortage, making it difficult for consumers to book the move dates they wanted. Consumers can expect this same problem in 2015 and should book a moving company as soon as they know their moving date. The average person books their mover only two weeks in advance, so beating that timeframe means consumers will have a better chance of getting the date they want. This is particularly important between Memorial Day and Labor Day, with moves peaking in August.

2) Major metros are still hot. In 2014, MCR reported the most moves in the nation’s largest cities, including Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Denver and Dallas. Continued urban population growth and the return of post-recession new construction will continue to fuel moves in these cities. For consumers looking to move in these cities, MCR advises to book a mover at least one month in advance.

3) Interstate moves will expand to smaller cities. MCR anticipates growth in some of the mid-size cities that are joining the trend of urban development, with investments in jobs, housing, retail and dining. The 2015 Emerging Trends in Real Estate report, published by PwC and Urban Land Institute, lists Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Nashville as “markets to watch”. MCR data identified a healthy number of moves in these cities in 2014 and expects the trend to continue into 2015.

4) Square footage will remain flat. According to MCR data, 2014 saw an upgrade in home sizes, by a median of 628 square feet. MCR does not expect any more significant upgrades. While the economy is improving, the rental market is still strong.

5) Mover scams are still a threat but more controlled. 2013 and 2014 saw the rise of illegitimate companies that preyed on unsuspecting consumers. These individuals and companies marketed to consumers looking for the lowest price, and then scammed them by drastically increasing the rate at the point of delivery or even holding goods hostage. In 2014, the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) and state moving associations made significant efforts to educate consumers on how to choose a vetted, licensed mover. Using a site like MovingCompanyReviews.com helps consumers understand the industry rules and regulations and identify the licensed movers with verified reviews from real consumers.


Top Qualities to Look for in Online Mover Reviews

published by on November 17, 2014Before You Move Tips

movingapps

If you’re looking to add a pleasant move experience to the top of your gratitude list, it’s important to do your own online research before booking a mover. To make it easier to identify the most insightful online reviews, MovingCompanyReviews.com (MCR) data revealed the qualities of a top rated mover review (according to five star reviews for the top 10 movers nationwide on MovingCompanyReviews.com). When you’re searching to book a mover, make sure the below qualities are mentioned in the online reviews.

Top five qualities that make up a five-star review:

  1. Worked hard and efficiently (as indicated in 100% of reviews )
  2. Staff was friendly and professional (as indicated in 97% of reviews)
  3. Movers were on time or early (as indicated in 73% of reviews)
  4. Movers handled belongings carefully and protected the homes e.g. in bad weather (as indicated in 66% of reviews)
  5. Staff was easy to communicate with and proactively followed up post-move (as indicated in 52% of reviews)

Traits to identify when reading online reviews:

  1. Expert knowledge: When hiring someone to move your belongings, you want a crew who works quickly, efficiently and knows expert tricks of the trade. You will be in awe of how quick and seamless a move goes when it is clear that the movers are experienced and professional.
  2. Respectful: The best movers have friendly and respectful crews. These crews will make you feel comfortable, despite the fact that they are strangers who are in your home and handling your belongings. MCR reviews have mentioned that the best crews are even funny and enjoyable to have around.
  3. Timeliness: Top ranked movers on MCR repeatedly mention timeliness. No one ever complained that a mover came too early.
  4. Thoughtfulness: The best movers will take care of your home and belongings using the proper protective materials (blankets, shrink wrap etc) and will take special care to protect a home during bad weather like rain or snow.
  5. Honesty: If a problem occurs, the best movers are proactive about addressing it. Complications will happen, but it is the way that the movers handle issues that really matters. Several reviewers acknowledged that something went wrong but were impressed that the company owner or foreman stepped in to make things right – promptly and professionally.

Need a place to start your research? Visit http://www.movingcompanyreviews.com/ to search by your location.Before booking a mover, interview at least three different moving companies to avoid booking an unprofessional or unlicensed mover.


5 Ways to Decorate Your New Home for Less

published by on October 21, 2014After You Move Tips

Kitchen and Dining area

After paying moving expenses (think: labor, storage and insurance costs), the last thing you want to do is spend money on expensive home decor. We’ve compiled budget friendly decorating tips to turn your house into a home for less. Use these tips to add a personal touch to your new space without breaking the bank.

1.) Reuse and repurpose: If your old furniture looks worn, repurpose it to add renewed appeal. A fresh coat of paint or stain can turn a dilapidated dresser into a statement piece for your living room. Old dining room chairs will transition seamlessly to your new formal dining area after an easy reupholstering project. Feeling uninspired? Head to Pinterest for thousands of great DIY ideas.

2.) Create multi-functional spaces: One way to save when decorating is to create multipurpose spaces throughout your home. Instead of furnishing a home office, create a computer area in your living room where office materials can be easily stored and accessed. If you rarely entertain, forgo a formal dining room for a casual (and less expensive) eating area.

3.) Save on appliances: Updating appliances can be a huge cost when moving into a new home. Avoid sticker shock by purchasing floor models or by mixing different brands. Another way to save on pricier models is to wait until a major sale. With Black Friday approaching, this could be an easy way to get the appliances you want for a bargain price.

4.) Avoid trends: Stay away from decor trends, to avoid the need to replace in the near future. If it’s a trend that you see everywhere from Pinterest to Target, it is likely it is a passing fad and not worth your money.

5.) Monitor home décor sites: If you’re looking to incorporate investment items into your home without the investment price tag, visit online flash sale sites One Kings Lane and Joss & Main to score designer furniture, appliances and other home goods for drastically reduced prices. Use these sites to purchase items like artwork, unique furniture and high thread-count bedding.

Are you looking forward to a fresh start in your new hometown? Check out our six tips for starting fresh in your new neighborhood here.


Top Cities with the Scariest Movers

published by on October 20, 2014Before You Move Tips

movingnightmare

Moving can be scary enough – packing, address changes, purchasing what seems to be an endless supply of boxes. Avoid a nightmarish move by being extra precautious in the cites with the scariest movers (based on MovingCompanyReviews.com verified reviews with the lowest rated movers – as defined by two stars or less and/or the most caution flags). If you’re moving in one of these cities, visit MovingCompanyReviews.com, to find the top rated movers in your area to avoid your own moving horror story.

1.) New York: 44% of movers had 2 stars or less (as determined by verified consumer reviews).

2.) Houston: 38% of movers had 2 stars or less (as determined by verified consumer reviews).

3.) Miami: 31% of movers had caution flags (as determined by verified consumer reviews).

4.) Chicago: 20% of movers had 2 stars or less (as determined by verified consumer reviews).

Scariest Moving Tactics:

1.) If a mover is not licensed for the services they advertise.

How to conquer your fear: Visit MovingCompanyReviews.com to verify if a mover’s services are licensed.

2.) If a mover has multiple names or addresses listed online.

How to conquer your fear: MCR displays a caution flag on listings for suspicious movers. Also, perform a web search for the mover’s name and address. If results return multiple names for the same address, or if the street view is a storefront or home (and not a real place of business) run the other way.

3.) If a mover has bad reviews on reputable review sites

How to conquer your fear: Visit MovingCompanyReviews.com to see if other consumers have submitted a verified review for the mover in question. You can see how many stars the mover has, if the mover has a caution flag, and if the mover is licensed and insured.

4.) If they don’t provide a written estimate

How to conquer your fear: Require that any mover you hire provides a written estimate. If the mover declines this request, you’re more at risk for surprise charges.

5.) If the quote provided is significantly less than competitive quotes

How to conquer your fear: Get three quotes before you make your final decision. A scary mover might also lowball an estimate only to surprise you with charges on moving day, or even hold your items hostage until you’ve paid the higher amount. Avoid any quote that seems too good to be true.

6.) If the movers show up with an unmarked truck. This suggests that they’ve rented the truck and have uninsured and untrained workers performing the services.

How to conquer your fear: Choose a mover whose trucks you’ve seen around the neighborhood. They’re more likely to be a legitimate mover that others in your area have trusted.

7.) If the movers don’t come to your home to provide an in-home estimate for a large or interstate move.

How to conquer your fear: Don’t hire a mover who won’t come to your home to assess what the estimate will be if your move is an expensive one. An in-home estimate is the best way to make sure the mover completely understands what will involved in the job, helping you to avoid surprise charges.

Looking for ways to settle into your new city? Find out the 6 ways to start fresh in your new neighborhood.