• Ask Allied: Can a Moving Company Move Two Homes into One?

    by Jackie Heath | Dec 17, 2014

    Two Homes Into OneThere are countless reasons to pack up and move to a new house: a college transfer, a new job, retirement, relocation to a bigger city…all of these are cited as the most common reasons, but they aren’t the only ones. When a marriage takes place or two families decide to move in together, you may find yourself facing the prospect of combining two households into one.

    Fortunately, hiring a moving company can help with this huge life transition. Depending on your situation, you’ll want to approach this process one of two ways.

    Moving Two Homes into One New One

    The easiest way to combine households is when two families move into a single residence they’ve recently purchased or rented. When this happens, your moving company will coordinate the move in a traditional way.

    This means you will:
    > Find a moving company willing to coordinate two moves at once.

    > Get an estimate based on the contents of both homes.

    > Set a moving date.

    > Prepare for the move by packing/purging your belongings.

    > Have the moving company pick up the belongings in one home and deliver them, then pick up the belongings in a second home and deliver them. (This step can vary depending on how many items you have and the distance you’re moving. In a cross-country move, it may be easier and more cost-effective to combine both homes into one moving van so that it only has to make one trip. When this happens, you’ll either have the moving company make two stops before it departs, or you’ll arrange it so that the contents of one home are taken to the other for a single pickup.)

    Because there’s so much variability in this last step, it’s a conversation you’ll need to have with your moving company. They should be able to walk you through the entire process and settle on a plan/price that you’re comfortable with.

    Moving One Home into Another

    From a moving standpoint, moving one household into an existing one is the easier process. (From a figuring-out-where-all-the-furniture-is-going-to-go standpoint, of course, the reverse may be true.) Because you’ll only be packing up and moving one household, it will cost less, take a shorter amount of time, and be easier to coordinate.

    However, the amount of prep you’ll need to do will increase. Your movers will need a place to put all of the furniture and boxes, which means you’ll have to move existing furniture around and clear the walkways in anticipation of their arrival. If this is beyond your physical capabilities, you may need to create a checklist for the movers so they can get in the house and make the space for you.

    In both cases, expect the combining of two households to cost more than a single move. Because the amount of work involved is much higher (and because you might be moving two entire households), your movers will adjust their estimates accordingly.

    The best way to manage this is to be perfectly clear about your expectations and needs right from the start. A reputable moving company can easily handle this kind of situation as long as they know what the exact specifications of the move are.

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  • What to Get Rid of for a Downsizing Move?

    by Jackie Heath | Dec 12, 2014
    Downsizing Your HomeDownsizing to a smaller home, apartment, condo, or retirement community is a great way to re-evaluate what’s important in your life. Because you can only take a portion of your belongings with you, you have an opportunity to go through your possessions and furniture, choosing to surround yourself by only the most valuable items.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Tossing out a lifetime’s worth of stuff is time-consuming and emotionally exhausting. If you’re facing a house full of things, here are few places to start paring down.

    > Family Heirlooms: The china cabinet that’s been in your family for three generations. The family piano, where your children learned to play their first chords. The mahogany dining room table you got for your wedding and that has presided over every holiday dinner since. These items have too big a place in your heart to be donated or sold, but they’re also too big to go with you. Now is an ideal time to pass them on to your children, nieces and nephews, or other beneficiaries. It might feel too soon for the heirlooms to start changing hands, but this way, they can stay in the family where they belong.

    > Large, Unused Items: Spare bedroom furniture, couches that no one else in the family wants, bookshelves you can’t take with you…all of these items tend to work best in an estate sale or garage sale. Determine which items of furniture you’ll have room for, and earmark the rest for sale. These tend to sell faster than smaller knickknacks (and bring in more money), which can help you out in the moving process.

    > Clothes that Don’t Fit or You Don’t Wear: Clothes and shoes have a way of taking up more space than anything else in a smaller home. Go through your closet and choose only the clothes you’ve worn in the past year. Get rid of things that are out of style, no longer fit, won’t work in your new climate, or that you simply don’t need. Donating them is a great way to ensure they don’t go to waste. (You can also do this in your kitchen. If you haven’t used it in the past year, chances are you don’t really need it.)

    > Seasonal Items: You don’t want to get rid of your holiday decorations just yet, but you also don’t have the closet space to keep them on hand. It might be a good idea to get a storage space for items like these. Because you will still use them, you don’t want to throw them away, but because you only need them one month out of the year, you don’t need constant access.

    You should also look ahead to your future. In some instances, a downsizing move is only a temporary thing—an apartment while you go to school in another city, a military move for a few years, moving in with a family member while you care for them during a time of need. In other cases, it’s a permanent solution—a retirement condo or a long-term transition overseas.

    Consider your future when getting rid of items. If you’ll someday be back in a full-size home, it might be worthwhile to put your entire house in storage. If you won’t, holding onto these items will only be a drain on your budget.

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  • How to Prepare for a Holiday Season Move

    by Jackie Heath | Dec 10, 2014

    Mount Laurel MoversThere are countless reasons to schedule a move during the holiday season. You already have time off from work, so there’s no need to dip into your vacation time. The kids are out of school, and starting fresh in the New Year might a good way to introduce them gently into a new routine. No one else will be moving, so you’ll have the movers all to yourself.

     Of course, you might also be moving during the busy holiday season because it’s unavoidable. Whatever your situation, expect this transition to be a little more stressful than it would be any other time of the year. With potentially icy roads, more traffic than usual, and the emotional upheaval of the holidays, moving during the holidays can be a bit overwhelming.

    > Don’t Pack the Holiday Decorations: You might be tempted to forgo Christmas decorations this year since everything has to be packed up and moved anyway, but try to keep at least a few holiday reminders out for everyone to see. It doesn’t have to be big (a miniature tree with a favorite ornament or two will work fine), but reminders of the holiday season are important in keeping morale high.

    > Play Holiday Music: Music is easy. An mp3 player, an iPod, a CD player, even the radio…these rarely take up much space, but the benefits are enormous. Keep holiday music in the background while packing and unpacking, and you’ll be able to hold on to the holiday spirit even when you’re surrounded by boxes.

    > Send Christmas Cards/Moving Announcements as One: Save time (and money) by sending moving announcements and Christmas cards together. With clever photos or an annual newsletter, you can really have fun with this.

    > Make Holiday Stuff Your “Unpack First” Box: Normally, the first things you want to unpack are kitchen utensils, sheets and bedding, toiletries…the stuff you use every day. In this case, include a holiday box in the mix. You’ll feel a lot better about your new home if there are a few familiar comforts around you (even if the majority of your furniture still hasn’t arrived).

    > Have a Party: The last thing you want right now is all the trouble of cooking holiday food, having people over, getting out, and meeting new people. Do it anyway. Being alone on the holidays is tough, and being alone in a new place is even worse. Try your best to surround yourself with those you love, and don’t worry if the house isn’t in perfect shape yet.

    > Don’t Expect Moving Discounts: All the tips and tricks tell you to avoid the busy moving season (summer) to save money on a move, but the holidays aren’t much lower in cost overall. Don’t forget—your movers have families, too. Pulling them away to help you move is certainly do-able, but expect to pay for the privilege.

    > Take Weather into Account: If you’re moving somewhere that’s a winter wonderland, there may be delays due to the roads or weather, or you might find that your new house’s pipes froze overnight. Expect there to be a few delays before you’re truly settled in—and try to make the most of the transition to a colder climate with a snowball fight or other outdoor activity.

    Holiday moves can be difficult, especially if you have kids, but thousands of families do it every year. Plan ahead, do what you can to uphold traditions, and hold on to the holiday spirit however necessary. It might not be a perfect holiday, but it can still be a good one.

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  • Hosting the Holidays in Your New Home

    by Jackie Heath | Dec 08, 2014

    Holiday BellsOne of the best ways to settle into your new house and start making it feel like home is to host a holiday gathering. There’s nothing like starting a few holiday traditions to really warm up a space, and any excuse to invite family and friends over is a worthwhile idea.

    Of course, there’s a lot of work that goes into hosting Thanksgiving dinner or a holiday party, and you might still have mountains of boxes that need to be unpacked first. If you’re hoping to make a good impression this holiday season, here are a few tips for using your new home to your advantage.

    > Make Holiday-Ready Your Focus: When settling into a new house, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by your massive to-do list. Fortunately, having a single, concrete goal can help you focus. Decide which two or three rooms are the most important for your party, and start there. By setting a deadline (the party) and knowing your goal (make it cleared and unpacked for guests), you can better manage your time.

    > Assign Tasks: Getting your spouse and kids involved in unpacking isn’t always easy, but having a holiday party is a good motivation. Assign tasks that are fun and also helpful. For example, for each box of toys they put away, your kids can hang one box of holiday decorations for the party.

    > Put Off Buying Furniture: If you’ve moved to a bigger home, chances are you don’t have enough furniture to fill it just yet. Go ahead and leave the dining room empty, or put off buying that new couch for a few weeks. Large, open spaces tend to work better for holidays than crowded rooms, and you can set up a real mingling atmosphere this way.

    > Purchase a Ready-Made Meal: More and more restaurants and stores are taking it upon themselves to handle Thanksgiving dinner preparations, and some will even deliver the cooked turkey right to your door. Instead of worrying about whether or not your kitchen is ready to cook a four-course meal, consider hiring this task out. You deserve it after all your hard work.

    > Hold the Party “Open House” Style: Open house gatherings tend to be easier to manage than more formal, sit-down dinners, so consider holding your annual party as a combination holiday party/housewarming event instead. Set the hours, put out the food, turn on some music, and let your guests do the hard work of entertaining themselves.

    > “Wrap” Unpacked Boxes: Holiday decorations in an unpacked home are easy once you realize you can transform all those boxes into presents. Buy some large rolls of inexpensive paper and oversized bows, and wrap any lingering boxes you don’t have the time or energy to put away. They’re instant and inexpensive decorations!

    Above all else, remember that the most important thing about the holidays is being with the people you love and being thankful for what the year has brought you. Rejoice in your beautiful new home and accept that settling in is a long process…and make it your New Year’s resolution to have everything eventually unpacked.

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  • Allied Apps: Real Estate App and Website Guide

    by Jackie Heath | Dec 05, 2014

    Real Estate AppsBuying or selling a house isn’t like going to a store and picking something up off the shelf. Not only is the price tag much higher than your average cashmere sweater, but there are a number of factors that change daily. You have to deal with other people in the market for the same residence, all of you competing for the same perfect square footage. You might need to coordinate with home sellers who aren’t free to show the house when you have time, or buyers who live internationally and want to purchase your home sight-unseen.

    Fortunately, technology makes all this a little bit easier. With the right real estate apps, you can enjoy more streamlined communication and find a few helpful tricks for getting your home sold faster.

    Home Buying Apps

    Zillow.com: This popular real estate website lists homes and home prices virtually everywhere Google Maps goes. The Zillow app takes things one step further by making it easy for you to narrow your real estate needs. Want instant updates on rentals? Seeking information on homes for sale in your area? Looking for mortgage planning tools? No worries. Zillow has an app for that.

    Homes.com: A real estate website with information on home sales in most major cities, Homes also offers several on-the-go app options. The most popular Homes app can help you find homes in your top neighborhood choices and break down the costs for easy comparison.

    Home Design 3D: Did you find a great new home but aren’t sure about the dimensions? Curious if your furniture will fit or if you can undergo the renovations you have in mind? An app like Home Design 3D allows you to design the space according to your specifications without actually buying it first.

    Redfin.com: This real estate website is handy for both home buyers and home sellers who want to access and update the same information used by real estate agents every day. The Redfin app offers up-to-date home sales information that you can use to make smart financial decisions and find the home of your dreams.

    Home Selling Apps

    360 Panorama: Showing off a house through pictures never quite does the real residence justice, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Apps like this 360 Panorama allow you to show more of your home in a continuous, unbroken circle that allows potential buyers online to really feel like they’re walking through your home.

    Conrol4 Home: A large part of selling a home requires you to let real estate agents, potential home buyers, and contractors into your home. One way to feel better about being away is to have a home control app like Control4, which allows you to adjust the lights, temperatures, and locks from your mobile device.

    Houzz: A big part of selling a home is making it look good to potential buyers. An interior design and renovation tool like the Houzz app can help you make plans to update your home’s look so it will sell faster. 

    Go comment!
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