Where to “Marie Kondo” Your Stuff

The good news is you were super inspired after watching Netflix’s “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”. The bad news is your garage or basement is piled with things that no longer bring you joy. No one told you how overwhelming getting rid of stuff can be, even after you know you want to get rid of it. Never fear. Here is your guide to selling and donating. 

*Sell: 

Unless you’re doing a garage or yard sale, divide your “get rid of” pile between donations and items to sell, only pulling out the truly valuable items that are in excellent condition to sell. The easiest things to sell are furniture and designer brands and jewelry, but smaller things can add up. Be prepared to create a profile, manage the sale and eventually ship the items or arrange pick-up. Do your homework to price your items accurately and make sure you have your jewelry appraised prior to a sale. 

TheRealReal—designer wardrobe consignment/sales. 

Poshmarkwardrobe consignment. 

ThredUP-basic wardrobe consignment

Vestiaire Collective—designer wardrobe. 

LePrix–designer clothes.

Amazon’s Trade-In programupgrade your amazon devices

Second Spinelectronics

Discogs—electronics, records

Decluttr–electronics

Delgatto / I Do Now I Don’t—jewelry 

WP Diamonds—jewelry 

Chairishfurniture

AptDeco—furniture 

Apartment Therapy Bazaar—furniture 

Swap—furniture 

Facebook Marketplace—furniture or odds & ends. 

eBay—furniture, electronics, jewelry, wardrobe. 

BookScouter–textbooks

Powells Books –books

Replacements Ltd—china & flatware

Craigslist—everything 

And just remember to follow safety precautions if you are meeting a buyer in person! This includes meeting in a public area and taking a friend.

*Donate:

Goodwill Industries of Southern Piedmont—wardrobe and household items.

Salvation Army—wardrobe, household items, toiletries, linens, diapers. 

The Free Storeclothing, tents, sleeping bags, furniture, and any general household items.

National Kidney Foundation of North Carolinahousehold and clothing items 

Dress for Successbusiness attire (suits and blouses) in sizes 0-4 and sizes 24 and larger suits and blouses, maternity business attire, accessories and scarves, shoes, especially in larger sizes, knee-high’s and pantyhose of all sizes in unopened packages and purses in conservative colors.

Charlotte Catholic Social ServicesThe refugee resettlement department accepts donations in the form of household items and furniture.

Appalachian Prison Book Project–paperback books

Queer Appalachia Coat Drive: Gently used, clean winter coats can be donated to poor and vulnerable LGTBQ+ folks in rural Appalachia via:

Queer Appalachia

POB 844

Bluefield, WV 24701

Whether you get a couple bucks in return or the warm glow of having helped someone in need, you will walk away with that particular sense of relief of having unburdened yourself of belongings. 

7 Things To Do Before Listing Your House

 

As soon as you know you’re moving, it’s hard to look around your current home and want to do anything but future house search with a bag of chips. But paying attention to your current home can pay dividends when it comes to getting the price you want. These are seven suggestions for improving the value of your home.

 

1. Change the lighting—Each room should be well lit. A good rule of thumb is three points of light per room. For example: an overhead light, a table lamp and a task light. For inexpensive lighting options, try Target and Ikea.
2. Clear Clutter—If there’s only one thing you can do to improve the look of your home, it’s this. Now is the time to clear everything from your surfaces including books, clothes from packed closets, and everything personal from your bathroom.
3. Deep Clean—hire a company or do it yourself, but a deep clean of your home will go a long way for showing it at it’s best.
4. Speaking of the Bathroom—Replace any missing tiles, fix the caulk on the tub and sink, consider swapping out fixtures if they are dated and bringing an otherwise neutral bathroom down. Add new towels and a neutral shower curtain for finishing touches.
5. Address the Floors—No, not refinishing—but a simple clean and buff can do wonders for hardwood. If you have carpet, get them professionally steam cleaned.
6. Paint—Nothing beats the freshness of a fresh coat of soft white paint and it’s an easy way to make a house feel new.
7. Upgrade the Kitchen—Don’t worry, you can make kitchen upgrades without remolding. A fresh coat of paint, new hardware, and peel and stick wall tiles can all transform a space without costing a fortune in time or money. If you’re feeling more ambitious, there are options for resurfacing your countertops or upgrading your appliances.

 

Whatever you do, start with an honest talk with a real estate agent—who can help you focus your priorities for selling a home in your area.

 

Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21

Renting or Selling

Maybe it was the second glass of wine, but when you had to listen Rob Schmobb talk about how he converted his former home into an income property, it seemed like a tempting idea. Forgo the hassle and risk of selling your current home, use it as an income property and move on while improving your finances. What’s the downside? Well, there’s six things to think about first.

  1. Do you want to be a landlord? Being a landlord is different than being a homeowner. The expectations of a renter are going to be place more demands on your time and finances.
  2. Research the rental market—estimate how much rent you could get with the help of a broker and if it would cover the mortgage, taxes, and expenses.
  3. Ask an accountant about tax implications.
  4. Do you need a property manager? If you are moving out of town, you need to hire someone to take care of the property and tenants.
  5. Crunch the numbers– estimate your rental profit and compare it with cash you would get for selling your home.
  6. Do you really want to be a landlord? It’s a thing.

Using your current home as a rental property can be quite successful and rewarding. Check the numbers and see if it’s a situation that can work for you.

 

Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21

The Big Day

Out of all the big days, moving day is definitely one of the most exciting. It’s the end of a long journey, full of ups and downs and finally the house is yours.

You might think the key to a great moving day is having a great selection of donuts and hot coffee, but to truly have a smooth moving experience, do these few things before the big day.

  1. Change the locks before you pop the champagne, celebrate signing those closing papers by making your key the only one that works.
  2. If you plan on it, now is the time to install any home security and get a certificate of installation to send to homeowner insurance to get a discount on your policy.
  3. Schedule an appointment to get your internet, television, and phone set-up before moving day and you can collapse on the couch that night with no hassles.
  4. Hire a cleaning service or schedule a family cleaning day make sure you get inside the light fixtures, windows, closets and cupboards, basement, and attic.
  5. Get ductwork, heating, and cooling systems serviced.
  6. If you can, do any invasive home improvement projects such as replacing floors, ripping up carpets or painting.

Follow these steps and the night you move in you’ll be eating pizza out of a box, buried in your unorganized stuff, happily watching television and procrastinating on your phone with nothing to do but figure out where that other chair is going. Home sweet home.

 

Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21

Winter To-Do’s for a Year-Round Tidy Home

Winter is not for yard work, it’s for hibernation, buttery holiday treats, and long Netflix binges. But keep these to-do’s in mind when it comes to home maintenance in the winter season and it will pay-off all year long.

Outdoors:

  1. Bring out the snow blower and make sure it’s in good working order, with gas and oil
  2. Stock up on supplies before the winter storms. Salt, shovels, and de-icers sell out quick during an impeding storm
  3. Check for ice dams—ice that accumulates along the eaves of your roof and can cause damage to shingles, gutters and siding. Removing them with a roof rake will keep you from potentially harming your roof

Indoors:

  1. Check and change filters in your heating systems
  2. Bring in firewood as needed, but store it outside long-term to reduce the risk of bugs
  3. Check your boiler levels
  4. If you have a generator, make sure it’s in good running order and has fuel
  5. Prepare in advance. Before the storms hit is the time to make sure you have supplies for a big storm. Water, supplies, food, and first aid should all be arranged before the big rush

Fall To-Do’s for a Year-Round Tidy Home

As the nights and mornings get cool and the wind turns crisp, it’s time to take advantage of the mild days and get your house ready for a long, cozy winter of Netflix binges.

Outside:

  1. Update your garden with perennials like peonies or hydrangea
  2. Plant bulbs, trees and shrubs you’d like for next spring
  3. Leaf clearing doesn’t have to be a huge task—some leaves are helpful on your garden beds, and mowing leaves into yard mulch is preferred over raking and blowing. Just remember to make sure you get the leaves small enough with the mower to not hurt your lawn
  4. Clean and inspect your gutters and downspouts
  5. Inspect your roof
  6. Roll hoses and store them for winter
  7. Drain and shut off outside faucets and sprinkler systems
  8. Stock up on seasonal firewood or any other alternative heat fuel you might need
  9. Clean, close, and cover your pool

Inside:

  1. Have your HVAC system serviced along with your furnace and ductwork—a well maintained system can prevent future problems. Check your filters, test your thermostat, and make sure your vents are cleaned and working properly
  2. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, it’s an inexpensive upgrade that will allow you to control the heat throughout the day and lower your energy bills
  3. If you have a boiler system, get it checked and drained and refille
  4. Check your chimney and have it cleaned before you begin burning fuel
  5. Check windows for drafts. Install your storm doors and windows for extra protection
  6. The dryer is a huge fire hazard, so clean the dryer vent and have it checked by a HVAC specialist
  7. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries as needed
  8. Begin and complete any inside improvement projects such as painting

Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21

Three Phases of Selling Your Home

Like phases of the moon, the process of selling a home can be dark and mysterious, so I’ve broken down the process into three steps below.

  1. Pre-Listing: Putting your home on the market is like getting your property ready for a big party. You don’t want people to come to the house before its ready. Some easy steps.
    1. Declutter. Pack up all items you don’t think you’ll need until after you moving into your new home. Most buyers have difficult time seeing potential in a property when they’re shopping for a home, so it’s important to make your home “move-in ready.”
    2. Paint. As simple as it seems, walls in neutral colors, or bright white, prevent potential buyers from getting distracted when looking at a house they might want to buy.
    3. Maintenance. Schedule a maintenance visit with your HVAC specialist for the air conditioning and hot water heater.
    4. Maid. Hire a service to do a deep clean of your property. Don’t forget to have the windows cleaned inside and out. Potential buyers won’t be able to tell if your windows are clean, but they will definitely be able to spot windows that aren’t.
  2. On the Market: This phase begins with pricing the property right. I can prepare a competitive market analysis for you that takes a lot of factors into account, including: location, heated square footage, amenities nearby, condition, local market conditions, etc. Once showings begin you’ll want to leave your home while showings are being conducted. This is usually the most inconvenient part of the selling process. Request that you receive a certain amount of notice prior to the showing appointment so that you have enough time to get the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and all the clothes into the washing machine.
  3. Contracts & Closing: If you’ve done everything possible to make your property stand out from others who are also trying to sell their homes, you can expect to receive an offer. I’ll present you with the offer(s) and help you negotiate with the buyer’s agent. Deals most frequently fall apart during the appraisal and inspections phase of the transaction. I can help you get over both hurdles. You’ll receive a draft of the settlement statement a few days prior to the closing date that itemizes every debit and credit in the transaction. The house is still yours until the deed records at the register of deeds in the county courthouse.

If you’ve made it to key day, it’s time to celebrate!

Sources:

  1. National Association of Realtors, 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

Four Areas Your Real Estate Agent Should Be an Expert In

We’ve all heard the horror stories of friends who have used bad real estate agents. Whether it’s just general incompetence or shady ethics, it’s enough to make the thought of having to select a real estate agent a chore up there with cleaning up after your pet. So, why should you work with a real estate agent? And how do you pick the right person for the job? Here are four areas you need look at before hiring someone.

Local expertise: While it’s tempting to browse national real estate websites and think all there is to picking a house is finding one within your search parameters, the truth is real estate agents are knowledgeable about the community you’re moving to in a way no national website can compete with. A good real estate agent knows businesses and their impact on market value, local attractions, architectural styles, appliances, trendy furnishings/fixtures, and heating and cooling systems. Agents also know the market and what you get for the money in a neighborhood today, as compared to the past several years.

Negotiation expertise. A good agent is your Kenny Rogers Gambler. They know when to hold ‘em, they know when to fold ‘em. Whether you’re buying your first or tenth home, an agent will have you beat when it comes to experience with real estate transactions. How low can you start without upsetting the sellers to the point where they won’t write you off as a tire-kicker? Will you offend them and lose the house entirely? What are other homes selling for in this area at the end of the day? If there are other offers coming in, what will make your offer stand out for the others?

Contract expertise. Contracts is a forgotten abyss of annoyance, and the only guide through the abyss is a good agent. There are financial and legal obligations that must be met by both buyers and sellers and an agent’s experience will make the entire process seem like a piece of cake. It’s their job to make this look easy.

Referrals. When buying a home, you’ll need a team of professionals: mortgage professionals, lawyers, appraisers, home inspectors, contractors, radon remediation experts, landscapers, moisture specialists, etc. Good news, a good agent knows good people, and will line everything up for you. An agent needs to Concierge service and built-in advisor throughout the home buying process.

Asking friends how they felt with their real estate agents through these four areas, as well as listening to what a prospective agent has to say about them, will help steer you away from predatory or disappointing agents and into a great relationship.

 

Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21

Spring To-Do’s for a Year-Round Tidy Home

There’s something about that first warm day after spending all winter trudging through cold and ice and huddling on the couch in blankets. The tree frogs awaken, the birds arrive, and we throw open our windows and embrace everything fresh and renewed. It’s a good time to channel those spring cleaning urges into checking in with your home maintenance.

Outside:

  1. Raking in the spring is more important than the fall—any leaves left now can contribute to mold or bald patches in your lawn, so head out there with a blower or a rake and get the grass ready for spring green
  2. Mulch your flowerbeds
  3. Turn outside faucets back on
  4. Plan ahead for summer lawn care—either renew your lawn care service contract or make sure your mowers blades are sharpened and trimmers are running
  5. Assess the trees on your property—both potential for storm damage and for disease or rot that may spread. Consult with professionals if you have any questions
  6. Reseed your lawn
  7. Plant perennials
  8. Fertilize—once your grass is green
  9. Clear out any raised beds and plant spring vegetables and herbs
  10. Store winter supplies and drain the fuel from any snow-blowers
  11. Check the exterior of the home for loose shingles, cracks in the foundation or other repairs that may need to take place, including any places that may need paint
  12. Clean the gutters and check for any cracks or water flow issues
  13. Hose off your decks and siding—no need to powerwash
  14. Clean exterior windows and replace any missing or broken screens
  15. If you have a pool, prepare to open the pool and inspect the patio and pumps for any repairs that need to be addressed

Inside:

  1. Before the first hot day, check your HVAC to make sure everything is working. A cleaning and tune up with your local HVAC technician is something that can prevent future costly repairs.
  2. Check in with your plumbing to make sure there are no leaks.
  3. Spring brings rain—if you have a sump pump, ensure it is working before the storm hits.
  4. Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide.