The Coldwell Banker Way of Culture

Products evolve. Technology inevitably improves. Exciting advertising campaigns shift conversation and hopefully make a real impact.  Everything changes. Yet, the one constant I’ve noticed in my 12 year career with Coldwell Banker is that there’s a special kind of person who joins this legacy brand – whether it’s here at the Corporate headquarters or out there at one of the 3,000+ offices across the globe. 

Our company was founded by two “twenty-somethings” in 1906 because they wanted to protect homebuyers from unscrupulous predatory real estate practices following the “Great San Francisco Earthquake.” That initial commitment to ethics and doing right by their customers and community is at the core of who we still are 112+ years later. Over 90,000 agents and countless others have taken that legacy, carried it on and even built upon it. Today, Coldwell Banker is home to some of the most successful, talented, driven, charitable and inspirational people you could ever meet. Here are just two examples:

Coldwell Banker is Home To: No Limits 

Coldwell Banker is Home To: The American Dream 

Number 1 ranked advertising, over $148M in luxury home sales every day, a long and (dare I say impressive) list of industry-wide firsts and a commitment to technology and charity – these are hallmarks of the Coldwell Banker brand and a reflection of the caliber of people who call this brand home and bring this culture to life in communities small and large.

There’s a name for the Coldwell Banker Way of culture. A name that unites us all who hang our hat here. That name is Gen Blue. We can wax poetically and call upon the most flowery language to describe our culture, but our Gen Blue documentary is the single best manifestation of what makes our culture so unique and special. It is a film that follows a new and experienced agent as they attend last year’s epic Generation Blue Experience – a gathering of over 6,000 of our people to share ideas and move our company and industry forward. 

Gen Blue is more than just a conference, it is an experience. It is the manifestation of what makes Coldwell banker such an inspiring place to call home. Watch the full video here.

If you’re interested in joining a global legacy brand with a connected network of some of the industry’s best – visit 

Understanding and Choosing Smart Home Products that Are Right for Your Lifestyle

Many people are drawn into the world of smart home technology by cool features like smart lights and smart assistants, because they help make life more convenient. But it can also be somewhat intimidating for people to get started when they’re faced with a bevvy of technical terms and limitless options. Getting past the jargon and understanding how smart home devices can work together can all add up to a much more convenient lifestyle.

Here’s how to figure out which smart home products can work best for you.

Consider How Devices Communicate

When you’re selecting smart home devices, you may come across the terms Insteon, Zigbee, and Z-Wave. These are different types of networks that smart home products use to communicate with one another. Insteon can communicate over a Wi-Fi network or through the existing electrical wiring in your walls, while Zigbee and Z-Wave communicate only through your Wi-Fi network.

The main thing to keep in mind is that there are compatibility differences to consider. Not all smart home products are compatible with these networks, but the vast majority of smart home products will work with Zigbee and Z-Wave.

Choose Devices that Can Simplify Your Life

The number of available smart home devices grows with each passing day. Where once there were only smart lights and security systems, now you can purchase everything from a connected oven to a smart robot that vacuums your home for you. The majority of newer products are compatible with most existing products, and even those that don’t work together straight out of the box can be made to work together through smart home hubs.

1. Security
Take a moment and think about the conveniences you want in your home. If you invest in only one type of smart home technology, make it a security system complete with security cameras. Connected home security systems make it easy to keep an eye on things around the house when you’re away, and even the presence of a security system can be enough to deter someone with malicious intent.

2. Smart lighting
For people who work out of the home, go away on vacation, or simply want an easier way to manage their lighting, smart lighting can help. With smart lights, you can control your lights from afar with a mobile app. Because smart lights have been around for a while, there are a lot of different options to fit every budget and color range.

3. Smart assistants
A smart assistant is just what it sounds like — a voice-activated device that can tell you everything from the news to the weather, control your smart home, play music, and much more. Although each device comes with varying levels of complexity, most of the difference lies in the volume level of the speaker.

4. Smart appliances
These days, you can connect everything from toaster ovens to washers and dryers. Most of these alert you via smartphone when something is finished cooking or a load of laundry is ready to go in the dryer, but certain appliances offer different features. Any homeowner with a busy schedule and lots of chores can benefit from the conveniences of managing appliances remotely.

5. Smart power strips and outlets
Smart outlets are one of the easiest ways to add smart home tech to your home without breaking the bank. Smart outlets can control the flow of power to and from a device. You can monitor the status of an outlet from your phone and turn it on or off. Are you one to leave the house and panic over whether the iron was plugged in? Next time, plug it into a smart outlet and you won’t have to worry.

6. Smart thermostats
Many people are introduced to smart home technology through a smart thermostat. These devices learn how you like your home to feel. If you keep it cooler at night and turn up the heat in the morning, a smart thermostat will pick up on that after a few days and adjust automatically. Like other smart devices, these can be controlled from your phone or via voice input with a smart assistant. They’re also an energy-saver. Homeowners who are concerned with energy efficiency would benefit from this device.

With these devices, you can get creative and customize them to the needs of your lifestyle. Services like If This, Then That (IFTTT) make it possible to connect devices together in ways you never would have imagined. You can also connect them through a smart home hub, like one provided by your internet service provider. For example, program a smart light next to your bed to simulate a sunrise if you have to wake up before dawn, and trigger your heat to turn on. Program smart lights to turn a certain color based on the temperature outside. Set your smart coffee pot to be linked to a motion sensor so that it begins brewing the moment you get out of bed. Make your life smarter, and a lot easier, with the limitless options.

3 Staging Touches That Up Your Chances of an Offer

It takes more than finding a realtor and posting a “For Sale” sign in the front yard for a successful home sale. Getting your house in order is the first step to a quick offer. The secret is to give potential buyers the opportunity to imagine their “stuff” and family living in the home. Plus, you want to put your home’s best foot forward and present it in the best possible light. Here are some tips to touch up your home staging to increase your chances of an offer.

1. Clear Out Your Belongings 

You may be attached to your stuff, but the first rule is to clean it up, clear it out and pack it all away. It can prevent new buyers from imagining the house as their own.

  • Pack away personal items like family photos and kid’s artwork for your new home.
  • Make sure toiletries, clothing, jewelry and accessories are in drawers and out of sight.
  • Eliminate excessive clutter. Display only a few generic items on your shelves and make sure the bathrooms are pristine.

Some rooms are harder to streamline, especially children’s or teens’ bedrooms. Clean them out and clear away as much clutter as your son or daughter will allow. Invest in covered containers that will fit under the bed or in the closet.

2. Make the Rooms Look Bigger

You want to make each room look as spacious as possible. Start with these tricks:

  • Take out some of the furniture. Move it to the basement or storage shed, or sell it if you won’t need it in your new place.
  • Clear off the kitchen counters.
  • Roll up area rugs, which tend to make rooms feel smaller.
  • Arrange furniture in intimate seating groups that encourage conversation and coziness. Don’t line everything up along the wall!

Installing curtains and blinds as close to the ceiling as possible draws the eye up and makes the room appear bigger. Panels should skim the floor. In this living room corner, a classic chair and small table before a window suggests to the future homeowner here is place for a morning cup of coffee in a well-lit room. 

3. Pay Attention to Your Decor

Highlight your home’s best features and downplay the less-than-perfect areas to create a welcoming space.

Paint is an easy fix. When possible, paint walls in pale, neutral colors like soft grey, beige and off-white. Neutral colors allow the buyer to imagine their own furniture in place. Plus, it screams “move-in ready.”

Don’t overlook the power of the view and the importance of natural light. Window treatments can help solve many issues. Windows without draperies make a room feel empty or undone. Curtains also help absorb sound in rooms with wood floors and they can hide an unsightly view or enhance a lovely one.

If a major selling point is your view – such as the ocean, the mountains or a gorgeous garden – don’t cover it up! Install stationary panel curtains that hang well off the window. If the scene outside is less than stellar (like an alleyway or the building next door), hang sheer draperies that allow the light in but camouflage the view.

As with paint color, choose drapery fabric in neutral colors and traditional patterns. This woven geometric check blends in with the rest of the space and will coordinate with almost any style of furnishings.

After the living room and kitchen, a great master bedroom is high on buyers’ checklists. In addition to natural light and the view, privacy is paramount.

Follow the same rules to make the space look bigger, hang as high as possible and skim the floor. Sheer curtains that can be closed allow light and hide an unappealing view while providing privacy. Keep surfaces clear of personal items and choose plain, neutral bedding. Open up the wall space with minimal artwork and move the excess furniture out. Buyers are looking for large rooms that feel serene and calm.           

Don’t forget to spruce up any secondary bedrooms as well. Keep the window treatments simple with Roman shades and valances. If the room needs a touch of color, a classic plaid or small print that works for boys and girls is in order. Temporarily replace superhero bedspreads with coverlets or duvets in solid colors and encourage your kids to keep their room neat and tidy.

Follow these few simple staging tips and your next showing could produce a winning offer.

Tricks to Treat Yourself to a Renewed Home

Guest post by Co-Founder NorthStar Moving Company Laura McHolm

Is your home fulfilling your current lifestyle needs? Has your home been on the market for months and still not sold? If you answer “Yes” to either of these questions, your home may be going through an identity crisis; it is not configured to best meet your current way of living – or to attract potential buyers. Your home needs a jump-start and a newly defined purpose.

It is time for “OPERATION: RECONFIGURATION.” Follow these tricks to treat yourself to a renewed home:


Begin by assessing the rooms in your home. Each room should serve a distinct function for you and your family – or for your prospective buyers. Are you offering a home office to buyers or just all bedrooms? Have you been recently practicing yoga or painting more pictures? Do you have a room set up for these activities?

If you determine that rooms in your home are not serving your family’s needs or are not pleasing to buyers, then now is the time reconfigure rooms within your home. That’s right; moving is not just from one house to another house. By reconfiguring rooms, you can discover a new home within your old home.


Set Goals. What do you want to achieve from the room reconfigurations? Consult with each family member or your realtor to determine the goals for each room.

Re-assign rooms. Based on the goals of family members or the selling points you discussed with your realtor, create a detailed plan of what room fits best with each goal. Maybe you daughter’s room would better accommodate your son’s wish for a bunk bed? Would your son’s room be a good space for your creative art projects? Is one of your bedrooms so small it would be better to present to potential buyers as a yoga space or a home office? Has the existing guest room gone unused? Transform it into a media or game room.

Design. Let family members choose the paint colors for their new rooms, as well as accessories (new bedspread, window coverings, throw rugs, etc.) and furniture layout. Instruct older kids to stay within a certain budget amount. No need to spend a lot, a little hard work and a new paint color can transform a room. Repurpose old furniture – sand and repaint.


Move out. Transfer all of the furniture and belongings from the chosen room to a temporary space in your home (garage, basement). If you are short on time, space, and/or help, hire a moving & storage company to move furniture and place items in storage.

Clean. Scour each room. Shampoo the carpet, wax floors, wash windows, wipe down walls, dust closet shelves. An empty, sparkling clean room provides the best blank canvas in order to reinvent that space.

Decorate. Paint and/or wallpaper the walls. Install new carpet or flooring, window coverings, etc. Complete any other DIY projects that the room’s budget allows.

Move in. Using both new and old pieces, arrange furniture, hang wall art and thoughtfully place accessories to personalize for each new occupant – even hang their name outside the door.


Take it all in. Your children get to sleep in their new bedrooms that they helped design. Perhaps Dad can read a book in his new office or you can have some quiet time in your new meditation space.

Get inspired. Whatever the new space is designed for, it will be clean, organized, and provide inspiration for you or your potential buyers.

Some of us move to a new home every 5-10 years, but many stay put for decades. Over time, a home can lose its way, lose its identity. Reconfiguring rooms within a home can push the restart button, set you and your home in a different direction, giving everyone a fresh perspective and a renewed home!

Closet Organization Ideas that Are Borderline Genius

If your closet is a clutter, it could be that you just need some closet organization ideas. Closets, no matter the size, tend to be a catchall. We often toss in our shoes and handbags, and hang up our garments without any consideration to organization. But, fret not. It’s easy to clean up those closets and establish some structure. Here’s how.

Invest in a Closet System

If you crave more closet space, you don’t have to put your home through a full-scale remodel — just put a closet system in place. The idea with a closet system is to maximize the space your closet already provides. By using hanging bars, drawersAud, shelves, and cubby storage, you can properly organize your clothing and other items. This way, when you open your closet door to put something away or retrieve something, you’ll know exactly where to go. 

Put a Pull-Down Bar in Place

This is a good closet organization idea when you want to keep clothes out of the way but still accessible when you need them. Many movable clothing rods are designed with telescoping pull rods to adjust to any closet size. Here’s a good example to learn more about how pull-down bars work in a closet.

Keep Your Shoes at a Slant

Many homeowners are satisfied if their shoes make it onto a storage rack instead of being tossed on the floor. But here’s a smart tip for you: By storing your shoes on slanted shelves, you can better see what you’re grabbing. No need to stand on tippy toes to see the top shelf — one quick glance and you’ll know whether you’re reaching for those strappy black sandals or sassy ankle boots. If you’re storing tall boots (because every Texan should have at least a couple pairs of cowboy boots), look for inserts that help boot shafts stay upright.

Get Creative

When it comes to closet organization, it pays to think outside the box. Want a clever way to keep your scarves from getting into a tangled mess? Grab a paper towel holder from the kitchen and roll your scarf around it. Searching for an orderly way to store your t-shirts? Keep them organized with stacking letter trays from your office. The trays keep the tees separated so when you need one, you won’t disrupt the whole stack.

If you’re tired of haphazardly cramming stuff in your closet, tap into the ideas above to restore some order to the closets in your home. Do you know of some other closet organization ideas? Share below!

8 Genius Ways to Organize Your Kitchen

The following is a guest post from Andrea Davis of HomeAdvisor

The kitchen is one of the most difficult places in the home to keep clean and organized. Between your dishes, utensils and cooking appliances, you have lots of oddly shaped and bulky items to store. If you find yourself overwhelmed by all the stuff in your kitchen, or maybe just need a more efficient way of storing and organizing, consider these genius ways to tidy up your kitchen.

#1 Group Similar Items Together
Grouping items together according to their use is a sensible way to organize your kitchen. Categorizing similar items makes it easier for you and your guests to find things quickly.

#2 Use Baskets to Store Commonly Used Items
Searching for commonly used kitchen items is frustrating. Rather than storing them in random cabinets, use a simple wicker basket to corral and hold popular items. It looks nicer than just stacking utensils on the counter and it’s more organized than stashing them in available cabinets.

#3 Install Slide-Out Pantry Drawers
There’s nothing worse than having to pull everything out of a drawer or cabinet to reach something you’re looking for. Rather than shuffling with all of that mess, install slide-out pantry drawers or cabinets. Now, when you need a spice or are looking for specific dry goods, you can slide the entire cabinet out.

#4 Use Open Shelving
There’s nothing wrong with showing off some of the items you own, like your formal dinnerware or antique teapots. The only challenge you’ll face is keeping it all straight and tidy on your shelves. Installing an open shelving solution will help you organize everyday kitchen items and bring an open, airy energy to your kitchen. As an added benefit, you won’t have to open drawers and doors to find the items you’re looking for.

#5 Explore Alternative Storage
Traditional kitchen storage is great, but sometimes alternatives are just as functional. Consider storing extra kitchen items in wooden crates, baskets and other containers. Do you have a movable kitchen island with space underneath? Use woven baskets to hold your plates and bowls below.

#6 Don’t Waste Space
If you’re struggling to find space to organize all of your cutlery, plates and other utensils, consider high-shelf storage. Remember to only store rarely used items, like your fine china or fondue pot, on high shelves.

#7 Cut Down When Necessary
The kitchen is one of the most popular places in the home to display knick-knacks. If your assortment of collectibles has outgrown your space, the easiest way to organize is to eliminate what you can’t put out on display. This cuts down on clutter and opens up the visuals of your kitchen.

These are just a few simple ways to improve the organization of your kitchen. Now you can enjoy less frustrating meal preparation and less overwhelming visuals.

Do You Have This Common Household Product in Your Cleaning Arsenal?

H2O2…or for non-science nerds…Hydrogen Peroxide! Did you know Hydrogen Peroxide has magical cleaning powers? Well, OK, maybe not magic but it is a pretty awesome green product to have handy around the house. Here are some of my favorite ways to use it to get my home nice and clean. Be sure you are using the  3% solution.

Whiten Grout

Cleaning grout is not a fun household chore but the good new is DIY grout paste is AH-MAZE-ING. Mix hydrogen peroxide with baking soda and then spread it over your grout. Let is sit for about an hour and then use the rough side of a sponge to wipe away the grime. Voila!

Disinfect Sponges

Dirty sponges…yuck. Who wants to clean the items they eat with or off of with something covered in germs. Um not you and definitely not me. Give your sponges a new life by soaking them in a bowl of hydrogen peroxide for half an hour.

Disinfect Your Fridge

We all know you can use HP to disinfect a cut (ouch, I know) but did you know you can also use it to sanitize your refrigerator? Yup, that’s right! Just spray some inside (make sure the bottle you use is opaque) and let it soak for about ten minutes then wipe away the grime.

Looking for other ways to use this product as a green way to clean up your home? Here are TEN more:

  1. Whiten Laundry
  2. Clean Your Cutting Boards
  3. Clean Rugs (test a small area first)
  4. Clean Toilets (even if you have a septic!)
  5. Clean Children’s Toys
  6. Remove Tablecloth Stains
  7. Clean Doorknobs
  8. Clean Glass Surfaces
  9. Disinfect Countertops
  10. Clean Your Veggies (Yes, really! Read more here)

Do you have another way to use this magical solution in your home? Let us know!

How Much House Can You Afford?

HOUSE POOR [adjective | hous – poo·r] A person who can afford his or her home mortgage payments, but can’t afford much of anything else. Discretionary spending on restaurants, furnishings, travel and clothes are severely cut back, due to a large proportion of his or her income going towards the mortgage payments, upkeep costs, and energy/utility bills.

You don’t want to find yourself stuck at home while your friends are out having fun. Buying more home than you can afford comfortably will place serious restraints on your financial life. This doesn’t sound like fun, does it?

Sure, you want a nice home. But you also want to make sure that it fits in the landscape of the rest of your life.

Here are the ABC’s of finding a dream house that you can reasonably afford.

Assess Your Ratios

Finding that magic mortgage number of how much home you can realistically afford.

  • Front-End Ratio: A front-end ratio is also known as the mortgage-to-income ratio. You can find this ratio by using a debt to income calculator or simply by dividing your projected monthly mortgage payments by your gross monthly income. For example, if your monthly mortgage payment would be $1,500 and your monthly income is $6,000, your front-end ratio would be 1500/6000 or 25%This projected mortgage payment should include the principal, taxes, insurance, and interest payments. Many lenders have limits on the maximum front-end ratio that they’ll permit. If you’re seeking an FHA loan, the federal cap on front-end ratios is a 31% percent limit.
  • Back-End Ratio: Your debt-to-income ratio is your back-end ratio. The back-end ratio can be found by adding all of your monthly debt payments, including your car payments, credit card payments and any other outstanding debt, then dividing this number by your gross monthly income, which is the amount earned before taxes or other deductions.The higher your back-end ratio is, the more difficult it is to meet your monthly mortgage payments. Lenders will also have maximum caps on this. The absolute highest back-end ratio you can have and still qualify for an FHA mortgage is 43%.

Pause and reflect on whether or not you should borrow as much as you qualify for.Consider your own ratios. Do you want to allocate your money elsewhere besides your mortgage? What percentage of your income do you feel comfortable spending on your mortgage?

Bet on Life

Are you starting a new career? Returning to graduate school? Do you plan on growing your family? If you don’t expect any big changes to your life or finances, then you may be able to afford a larger mortgage payment. If you do have life plans that will impact your finances in the near future, it may be best to secure a more manageable mortgage payment.

Also, job security is critical when deciding how much home you can afford. How long have you been working? Do you suspect any major upheavals in the company anytime soon? Have there been any major layoffs?

You never know what the future holds, make sure that you have an emergency fund that can cover all of your necessary expenses while you get back on your feet. An emergency fund should cover at least three to six months of your living expenses.

If you haven’t built this fund yet, plan out how you can put some dollars towards creating these reserves before you decide how much you want to spend on buying a house.

Calculate Other Monthly Expenses

Your total monthly expenses will affect how much home you’re able to afford.

Calculate all of your expenses, such as groceries, gas, dining out, clothes, miscellaneous goods, toiletries, cosmetics, utilities, and car expenses. Don’t forget to include line-items for travel, holidays and other annual expenses. Forgetting to calculate these annual or biannual expenses can have a reverberating impact on your ability to afford your home.

Once you’ve added these numbers, look at how much wiggle room you have left. Think about how much you want to spend on your home, while still leaving a buffer for any other costs that might creep up. After all, more savings is always a good thing.

Now that you know the ABC’s of what you can afford, check out more home buying resources.

Moving a Closet: Pack & Unpack in 3 Stages

Guest post by Co-Founder NorthStar Moving Company Laura McHolm

We all know your closet is miraculous because it holds everything you ever bought. But, that miracle is turning into a horror story. You’re about to move. Do you really want to move everything in that closet? Think go-go boots, prom dress and sequin leggings…

This is your opportunity to purify your wardrobe. At least two weeks prior to moving day, start the closet packing process by sorting your wardrobe to get rid of clothes that have been hiding in the back of your closet for way too long. Why move things you don’t wear? Spend at least a few days determining what are the hidden gems and what’s just taking up space. If you give yourself the gift of time and follow these three stages, not only will your wardrobe be kept in mint condition, you’ll have less clutter.


Empty & Sort
Empty everything out of the closet onto the floor. I mean everything!

Create three piles: keep, give away and throw away.

Having trouble letting go of nostalgic items? Ask yourself:

  • When was the last time I wore or used this? If you can’t remember, get rid of it. You should’ve worn it at least 2 times in the past year to warrant keeping it. Be ruthless!
  • Still can’t part with it but it never leaves the closet? Take it’s picture on your phone. Does the real thing do anything that the picture can’t

Look at your give away and throw away piles, could someone else use this item even if you can’t? If so, box them up and donate them to a charity. Remember to label the box: “Donate.” If it is too worn, add it to this week’s trash or recycle pile. Again, why pay to move items that you no longer wear!

Pack, Boxes Do Matter

For folded clothing, use medium size/linen size boxes and carefully fold clothes before placing them inside.

 Place hanging clothing in wardrobe boxes. These boxes are a fast and easy way to move your hangers and clothes. The box is tall and has a rod built in so you can hang your clothes inside and don’t have to fold them. It also makes unpacking really easy. Use them for suits, slacks, blouses, dresses, heavy coats and more. Check out this video about packing clothes in a wardrobe box.

First, dust out the wardrobe boxes to clear them of any debris. Then, pack with a plan. Sure, you can just throw everything into the boxes, but if you do you will make the unpacking process a lot harder.

A great way to have a truly miraculous closet in your new home is to organize your wardrobe boxes by season. Pack winter wear separate from summer wear and spring wear separate from fall wear. This will also help if you need to store your clothes.

Place shoes at the bottom of the wardrobe boxes, toe to heel. Heavy boots should be on the bottom while light shoes such as sandals can go on top.

Stuff boots and pursues with paper or t-shirts to keep their form.

You can also use the bottom of the wardrobe boxes for pillows, sweaters or light weight blankets.

Unpack & Organize!

Once you are in your new home and ready to unpack, think of your closet as prime real estate. What items do you want easy access to? Unpack for the season you’re in first. If you find you don’t have space for all the seasons in your new closet, keep the other seasons clothes in the wardrobe boxes and store them. Be sure to throw some cedar chips in with anything you store away.

Once you have unpacked the current season clothing, decide how you want to categorize your clothing within each season. If you choose your clothing based on event (sports, dressy, work) organize your closet that way. If you choose what to wear by time of day, organize your closet that way (morning, day, night). The key is to make your closet organization match how you decide what to wear. Within each season, organize by your chosen method and then by color, light to dark. You’ll be able to find everything quickly, even on a hectic Monday morning!

Place your shoes by use or occasion. For example, sport vs. work, and then break down your dressy shoes by flats to heels and light to dark. You can even put your shoes into clear plastic containers so you can see them. Take it a step further and take photos of your shoes and tape their photo to the inside of their container with the photo facing out of the box.

For your folding clothes: lay them on their side inside your drawer or on the shelf. (NOT stacked on top of each other horizontally, but stacked vertically so you can see everything at once!) Purchase wooden or plastic planks to use as dividers to keep clothes standing vertically.

Having your clothes and accessories all in view organized by categories and color, will make finding items fast. You’ll actually wear more of your clothes.

Last but not least, step back and take a picture of your new “miracle” closet and place it on the inside of your closet so you can keep it that way!

New home, new living…new wardrobe? Nope! A slimmer, newly organized closet. It’s going to feel miraculous to be able to see and wear your entire wardrobe.

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.

How to Make Your Move Less Stressful

From horror stories of lost, stolen and broken items to surprise charges tacked on to an already high bill, moving is not for the faint of heart. And after recently pitching in to help my mom through a downsizing and a big move, I’ve learned a few things about working with professional movers. If you have a move coming up, read on for eight tips to help your move go smoothly.


1. Take the time to research movers thoroughly. We’ve all heard horror stories about movers stealing, losing or recklessly damaging belongings, but with a bit of diligence on your part you can make sure you’re choosing a reputable, licensed company with ample experience. Check reviews, Better Business Bureau ratings and references before committing to hire. It’s also a good idea to purchase appropriate insurance for your belongings, just in case.


2. Don’t wait till the last minute to book your movers. Moving companies do book up, especially during the busy summer months, so don’t leave this decision until the last moment. Start looking for a company early and get on its schedule.


3. Honestly assess your belongings before getting a quote. If you end up bringing more items than discussed with your movers, the best-case scenario is that you get a higher bill — but the worst-case scenario is that there isn’t room on the truck for everything you plan to bring. The reverse can also be problematic: If you pare down your belongings a great deal between the time of your quote and moving day, you may find yourself paying more than you needed to.

If you do require flexibility in truck space for your move, be upfront about it. Some companies allow you to pay by the foot, which means you pay only for the space you end up using. Usually this involves sharing space with another customer, in which case your belongings will be divided with a locked partition inside the truck.


4. Don’t assume that professional packers are also pros at labeling. If you’re planning to hire professional packers, it’s smart to ask about their policy for labeling boxes. If they don’t label (surprisingly common), plan to be present while the packers work (a good idea anyway) and make it your job to label each box as it’s completed.

Packing tip: Label your boxes with your last name as well as the name of the room in your new home where you want the box to end up. When labeling rooms, use language that will make sense to the movers: Instead of “Katie’s room,” you could label a box “Upstairs small bedroom.”


5. Block out close parking in advance to avoid long-carry fees. If your movers can’t park the truck close to your home, you’ll probably get stuck with what’s known as a long-carry fee — and the farther the movers have to walk to bring each item, the longer it will take. To avoid this, do whatever you can to ensure there’s a close place to park the truck at both your old home and new. You may want to notify neighbors in advance, park your cars in the closest spaces to hold them, or put cones and signs in the space in front of your house on the day of the move.

6. Remember to measure openings at your new home. After one harrowing experience attempting to get a giant sofa through a narrow stairway (our movers eventually gave up), I now know the value of measuring doorways and stairwells in advance. If bulky furniture doesn’t fit, you may be forced to leave treasured pieces behind, or — if you simply can’t do without an item — you may need to ask for hoisting services, which aren’t cheap and may not be available right away.


7. Take the time to read the fine print. Before the movers leave at the end of the day, you’ll be asked to sign off on the inventory sheet and bill — and you’ll be exhausted when this happens. It’s easy to breeze through these last steps and just sign whatever papers they thrust in front of you, but it’s important that you take the time to actually read what you’re signing.

Double check that everything that went into the truck has actually arrived. Look over the bill carefully and be sure there are no extra charges. Especially if you were sharing space, belongings can get missed quite easily, so it’s a good idea to take a look inside the truck before it pulls away. And look close: Tiny (but necessary) items like drawer knobs and shelf brackets can easily get overlooked on the floor of a big truck.


8. Just get the big stuff into position; the rest can wait. Think rugs and major (read: heavy) furniture pieces — anything you can’t easily move on your own — are the things that should be put into position by the movers. Ideally, you’ll already be armed with a floor plan of the new space with furniture positions marked out. But if you didn’t get anything that elaborate organized, no worries. Just station yourself in the new place as early as possible before the movers arrive and make some decisions about where things will go.

Then locate the box with your bedding, because you’re going to be ready for a good night’s sleep!