How to Move Without a Hitch

By: Angela Colley

Wondering how to move out of your house now that it’s sold? From the first coat of paint you used to freshen up your house’s trim to the stress of wrangling your way to a deal, you’ve been through a lot in that place. Now you’ve made it to the final hurdle of selling a home: moving out!

Don’t worry, this is the easy part… but you want to do it right. Here’s how to get through the last leg of your journey without a hitch.

How to move out on time

Once the paperwork is signed at closing, the buyers will officially own the house … and you won’t. That means that, technically, if you or your stuff is still there after the close, “the buyer could evict you,” says Joshua Jarvis, founder of Jarvis Team Realty in Duluth, GA. So make sure to have your exit strategy in place!

Still, most buyers will understand if you need a bit more time and have a legitimate reason—like if you can’t move until the weekend due to your work schedule. Just be sure to discuss these issues as soon as possible before the close, so your buyers can plan accordingly.

Decide what to leave behind

To make sure you’re leaving behind everything the buyer wanted—and that you agreed to—double-check the closing documents. There should be an itemized list of what comes with the house. And even if the buyers didn’t formally request them, it’s just good form to leave certain types of things behind.

Such as? “Generally speaking, you should leave anything that’s bolted to the wall,” says Jarvis. “Some homeowners want to take their fans and blinds to the next home, but generally if it’s screwed in, it stays.”

Also, if you and the buyers agreed to transfer any services—such as alarm monitoring or pest control—be sure to set that up before you go. Leave the buyers a detailed note in the house, or ask your agent to get in touch with theirs to make sure the transfer goes smoothly.

If you do inadvertently take an item that the buyers had requested, they have the right to ask for it back—and they could potentially sue you in civil court for the cost of a replacement. So, when in doubt, feel free to check with the buyers before you grab and go.

But don’t leave anything else behind

Just as important as what you leave behind is what you don’t. Your buyers have a right to move into a home that’s been cleared of furniture and other movable items they didn’t expressly request.

“Some folks leave all kinds of unwanted clothes, furniture, paint cans, and other items, thinking they are helping the buyers,” Jarvis says. If you truly think your buyers might love to have your old planting pots or kiddie equipment, go ahead and ask—but please don’t assume they’ll welcome your leftovers.

Even if you’re careful, you might forget something—at which point the buyers may contact their agent to get it back to you, but they also have the legal right to just keep or get rid of it. So double-check areas (e.g., the attic, garage, basement, storage shed, kitchen, and bathroom drawers) where people commonly overlook items.

Clean up

It’s common courtesy to leave the place not only clear of your possessions but also clean. However, that doesn’t mean you have to leave it immaculate. “Generally, you shouldn’t have to pay to have it deep cleaned,” Jarvis says.

In most cases, a simple broom-clean will do. That means wiping down the countertops, cleaning out drawers, sweeping or vacuuming all the floors, and giving the bathroom and kitchen appliances a once-over so the new owners aren’t grossed out when they arrive.

Wait! Are you forgetting anything?

Before you close the door for the last time, run through a quick checklist. Did you eyeball every room for stray items? Have you forwarded your mail and turned off the utilities? Is the water running in the pool? Have you left behind incriminating evidence of a capital crime? (We’re kidding on that last part … we think.)

We all get in a bit of a rush even in the best planned moves, but you won’t be able to get back in, so it can’t hurt to do a final run-through before you move out.

Once you’re ready, it’s time to leave. You can drop a line to your Realtor® to let her know you’re out, although it’s usually a courtesy more than a necessity. If you’re feeling truly gracious, feel free to leave a note, card, or bottle of bubbly congratulating the people who’ve inherited your former home. Given all the fond memories you’ve built between those walls, wouldn’t it be nice to start the home’s new owners off on the right foot?

And buy yourself some Champagne, too. Make it the good stuff—you’ve earned it.


Everything You Need to Know About Moving Safely During the Coronavirus Pandemic—If You Must

moving truck

Settle In With Our 11-Step Game Plan for Unpacking Your Move


By: Holly Amaya

Few things are more stressful than packing up the contents of your entire home—except, that is, unpacking that intimidating labyrinth of boxes, bags, and bundles once you’ve landed in your new place.

But with a little organization (and maybe a lot of wine) you can make the experience a lot more efficient and—dare we say—enjoyable. Read on for our expert-approved game plan for unpacking your move. (Hint: It starts before you say sayonara to your old house.)

1. Before you ship out, pack a ‘Day 1’ box

Save yourself the stress of wondering where your footie pajamas, contact solution, and phone chargers might be, and pack a “Day 1” box of essentials that’ll get you through your first 24 to 48 hours in your new place.

“It may take a few days or even weeks at your new home before you get comfortable,” explains relocation expert Bill Mulholland of ARC Relocation Services. “Pack a bag of essential items for each person in your family so you’re not digging through boxes— and include toiletries, medicine, and clothing for the first few days.”

Pro tip: Make sure your Day 1 bag holds a few box cutters; you’ll need them to make the task of opening dozens of boxes more tolerable.

Professional organizer Darla DeMorrow of HeartWork Organizing recommends the following technique: “Cut with an ‘H’ motion,” she says. “Cut one side, then the other side, then the long strip down the middle while you lift it up slightly. Using this technique, you won’t accidentally cut into the items inside the box.”

2. Prep your new place

Create a clean canvas at your new place, preferably the day before your stuff arrives, DeMorrow recommends. Make sure the floors are spotless, wipe down the cabinets, lay shelf paper (if that’s your thing), and be sure you have extra furniture dollies if necessary.

3. Have the movers wait while you take stock

We know you’re probably raring to go, but before you dismiss your moving crew, give everything a once-over.

“Don’t sign anything from the movers or shipping company until you inspect the packages,” says home organization expert Christina Harmon.

We know this sounds like a total pain, but it’s well worth it. “Once you sign, you’re accepting their state of delivery,” Harmon points out.

4. Do a load of laundry

As soon as you cross the threshold of your new place, throw your towels and bed linens in the washing machine so they’re ready for your inaugural new-house shower and sleep.

5. Set up your bed

It might be tempting to start unpacking in the kitchen or den—after all, those places are where you do the most living. But experts agree it’s best to start where you sleep. Set up your bed with fresh linens so you’ll have a comfy place to rest after unpacking. If you can’t find your bed frame or can’t deal with putting it together on Day 1, it’s fine to put your mattress on the floor for the time being.

6. Purge

This should be done before you move. But if you didn’t take the time to purge before packing up your old home, start a donation pile now so your junk doesn’t find a permanent space in your new home. If you haven’t listened to that Paul Wall CD in 10 years or worn your high school letterman jacket since the ’90s, you probably won’t do either now.

7. Create an ‘elsewhere bin’

DeMorrow recommends creating an “elsewhere bin” in the room when you unpack.

“You might decide that the candlelighter, which lived in the kitchen in the old house, should really go in the living room in the new house,” she says. “Save a few steps and park it in the elsewhere bin until you are ready to head to another room.”

Similarly, group unused organizing gadgets together and move them along as you unpack.

8. Unpack the kitchen

Ordering in Chinese and pizza every day gets awfully old awfully fast. “You need to set up your kitchen so you can use it,” Harmon says.

Unpack the items you use daily, starting with cutlery; pros recommend stashing your knives, forks, and spoons in the first drawer to the right of your sink or dishwasher. (You might want to reverse that if you’re left-handed.)

Store your plates, cups, and glasses at eye level or lower, preferably close to your sink or dishwasher. Stash pots and pans near the stove—don’t forget lids—and place heavier items such as cast-iron skillets or small kitchen appliances as close to the floor as you can.

9. Attack the bathroom

In the bathroom, start with your shower curtain, shampoo and conditioner, body wash, and clean towels. You can unpack your other bathroom gear later.

10. Throw perfection out the window

Loosely arrange each room by placing large, already-assembled items where you think they should go, Harmon says. If your artwork and personal photographs are available (read: not packed in boxes), lean them against the wall where you think you might want them and let it simmer a day or two before you start installing.

“I’m not a big fan of being overly meticulous about layout in advance—I think it’s overkill and a waste of time,” she says. “See if you like how things feel in that room and move on to the next room. You can adjust later.”

11. Leave the garage for last

Don’t kill yourself trying to unpack your garage and storage spaces overnight. They’re typically pass-through portions of the home where you won’t spend much time, so you can take your time getting organized. And if you’re anything like us, your garage is usually a repository of half-finished projects, bicycles, and kids’ toys. You’ll be back there soon enough.


Purge Your Home of These 9 Things Before You Move

By: Jamie Wiebe

A new home means a fresh start: new paint, a new bedroom, even a fresh take on arranging your old furniture.

But your new space won’t feel so wonderful if it’s weighed down with junk you didn’t bother ditching during the move. Now’s the time to purge your home—and we’re not talking about just sifting through stacks of magazines while you binge on Netflix.

“Your possessions should have three purposes: function, aesthetic purpose, or sentimental value,” says Christina Giaquinto, a professional organizer in Franklin Lakes, NJ. “Pick up each item in your home, and ask yourself, ‘Why do I have this item? What does this item do for me?’”

From doodads you picked up at the flea market to jewelry you never wear to a pile of untouched cat toys, there are a lot of things you should toss or donate before packing up the truck. But here are nine of the most common offenders.

1. Old towels and linens

When’s the last time you bought new towels? If it’s the last time you moved, turn those suckers into rags and buy something new. After years of use and hundreds of washings, there’s no denying your fluffy bath towels have lost some of their plushness.

Ditch old bed sheets, too. Fitted sheets lose their elasticity over time, and exposure to sweat and oil can cause unpleasant stains.

2. Your juicer

We all have goals. Running three times a week. Cleaning every Sunday. And starting each morning with a glass of cold juice pressed from spinach, kale, ginger, and pineapple.

Don’t give up on achieving your dreams—but if you’ve tried to make a change and found it didn’t work with your lifestyle, don’t hang on to the dregs of disappointment. Maybe getting up a half-hour early every morning to juice isn’t for you. Assess your achievements at moving time, and donate everything that didn’t work out. At least you’ll have room for your next wild aspiration. Perhaps a set of dumbbells?

3. Unworn clothes

Organizing a closet before a move should be simple. A keep pile, a toss pile, and a donate pile—right? But we all have those jeans we keep around just in case we finally lose 15 pounds. Or a dress tucked deep in your closet in case you ever go clubbing again. (Never mind that the last time you were out of the house after 10 p.m. was the night your first child was born.)

Watch out for clothing you’re keeping “just in case,” which take up precious room in your closet. And even if you do lose the weight, or get an invitation to a bachelorette party in Vegas, you can always buy (or rent) something new—and we bet you’ll love it even more.

4. Duplicates and souvenirs

Clutter accrues in the strangest places—like your mug tree or your dining hutch. You might have started out with two novelty mugs, but now you own a coffee cup from every place you’ve visited. Ever.

“Try to keep only one from your favorite vacation,” Giaquinto says.

Look for duplicates throughout your kitchen. Do you really need three bread pans? Or more than one cake platter?

“You should only hold on to what can fit neatly in your space,”  Giaquinto says.

5. Collections you’ve outgrown

One day, many moons ago, you told your mom you liked elephants. You were 12.

Your next birthday: an elephant necklace. Your graduation gift: a porcelain elephant statuette. Your housewarming gift from your aunt: an Etsy elephant print.

It’s too late to convince everyone you’re not a loxodonta-phile, but it’s not too late to trim down your collection. And when Mom stops by and looks confused, just say, “I had to. I couldn’t fit it into our new space.”

6. Cosmetics and toiletries

Like most things in life, skin and beauty products don’t last forever. So before you move, ditch the pile of half-used products you’ve amassed under your bathroom sink; that goes for skin creams, sunscreens, shaving cream, beard oils, deodorant, and even soap.

Ladies—make sure to toss the nail polish.That stuff has a shelf life of only two years, meaning you’ll likely never finish a bottle before the polish gets gunky and hard to apply.

Same goes for cosmetics: For example, you should replace your favorite mascara every three months. Otherwise, you risk exposing your eye to contaminants and air particles.

7. Space fillers

Sometimes, when moving into a new home, we buy stuff just to fill the emptiness. Ugly side tables, a TV stand three shades darker than the rest of your furniture, or that annoying inspirational wall art that’s long past being cool (if it ever was).

Your next home doesn’t need to be a blank slate, but do yourself a favor before moving in by ditching furniture and decor you’re “meh” on. And next time, buy slowly and ponder exactly what you want before plunking down cash.

8. Cords and cables

You don’t know how it happened, but suddenly you have 34 micro-USB cables and seven random charging cables that seemingly belong to nothing and everything at the same time.

Save yourself from future headaches, and get rid of duplicates now—as well as anything that doesn’t have a match. And take advantage of the move to sort the remaining cords and cables into an organized system.

9. Paperwork

Go through all your old paperwork, setting aside documents you should keep (tax records, closing documents, recent bank statements) and ditching everything that’s no longer necessary—like old insurance policies. Create a filing system you’ll stick to, since that paperwork’s gonna keep coming, and promise yourself you’ll go back through everything once a year.


8 Things to Do Right After You Move In

move in

By: Margaret Heidenry

So you’ve moved into a new home—yay! Maybe you’ve even celebrated with your first takeout meal in the middle of your fabulous (and empty) living room floor. But before you get too comfortable and go into a flurry of unpacking all those carefully labeled boxes, check out this list of things to do right after moving into a new place. It’ll set you up to be sitting pretty for years to come.

1. Take photos

Photos of bare and unadorned rooms? Yep. If you’re renting, these are essential when the time comes to get your security deposit back. Photos are also important if you bought a new home, since a fair amount of time may have passed between the inspection and when the previous owner finally took a powder. If any damage occurred in the interim, or the movers scratched a previously pristine floor, document it. A gallery of pictures taken before your furniture makes it inside will be worth a thousand words—and maybe more than a couple of bucks—should you need to point out damage.

2. Check your belongings for breakage

If you hired movers to either pack or move your belongings, “you have a limited amount of time to report any suspected damage or missing items,” says Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations for Freedom Financial Network. “Make sure that if a major appliance was moved”—such as a refrigerator, washer or dryer—“they still function as they should. Review your contract to determine liability coverage if you discover a problem.”

3. Figure out when and where to leave your trash

As you unpack, you’ll be eager to get rid of the trash, so finding out from your landlord, homeowners association or neighbors when and where you can do that is key. “You won’t want to miss pickup day when you’ve got piles of cardboard lying around,” says Desmond Lim, founder of Boston’s moving website QuikForce.

4. Change the locks

It’s your home now, but who else had the keys when the previous residents lived there? No one wants even the slightest question about safety lingering over a new home. This makes swapping out locks as soon as you can “one of the most important things homeowners can do when they are settling into a new property,” says Marty Hoffmann, vice president of marketing at Kwikset.

5. Register your car

Did you move from one state to another? If so, you’ll need to register your car within about 60 days. Each state’s requirements are slightly different, but penalties range from fines to impounding your vehicle if you fail to comply in a timely manner. You’ll also need to get a new driver’s license, usually within 30 days of your move.

6. Break out the drop cloth

Most people don’t have the luxury of painting prior to moving in, so, if possible, paint as soon as you regain your strength from the move. “The longer you wait, the tougher it is to paint,” says Steve Revnew, vice-president of product development at Sherwin-Williams. Most people “continue to collect and add furnishings, all of which make painting more difficult,” he says. “Moving heavy furniture or working around furniture isn’t easy, especially smaller rooms.” But with no obstructions besides neat, stackable boxes, painting is a breeze.

7. Check your credit reports

Your credit reports are usually accessed during a move, as everyone from new employers and landlords need to reference them for background checks. That’s why it’s important to “request a copy of your credit report within six months of your relocation,” Gallegos says. Besides ensuring that your address change was recorded accurately, Gallegos advises to “watch for inconsistencies that might indicate you’ve been a victim of fraud. During a move, a great deal of personal financial information is exchanged and forwarded via mail and email. It’s important to make sure your personal information wasn’t compromised.”

8. Update your voting address

Whether it’s the upcoming election for president or your local school board, don’t forget to update your address so you can vote. Most states allow a 60-day grace period during which time you can use an old address at your new polling place. For elections beyond that, register at least two weeks prior so you don’t miss out on swaying any important issues. After all, what better way is there to plant a foot in your new neighborhood than exercising this all-American right?