Making the Move to Muskoka – How to Make it Easy!

Karen Acton Muskoka Realtor - Moving to MuskokaIf you are ready to make the move to Muskoka or you have decided to relocate across the country or just across town, moving can be stressful even given the best circumstances. The best way to make it less stressful is to have a plan. Without a clear plan, packing up a household, getting a family prepared and setting up the necessary services at both ends of a big move can be a harrowing experience.

The internet is a great resource. I spent a little time “Googling” and combined that with what I have learned from watching clients making the move, and have come up with some planning tips to help you make the “Big Move” a smooth and stress-free event.

1. Have a moving file. As soon as you even start thinking about moving, create a moving file. You can do it with paper in a binder or use your computer, tablet or even phone. Gather all related papers in one place, such as:

  • Moving companies
  • A calendar and a timeline for doing things – your Realtor can help you with this
  • Your master packing list – Pack now (things you will not need until after you have moved) and pack later (things you will be using right up to the moving date)
  • Contact information (for both the old & the new homes) for utilities, post office, schools, doctors, bank accounts, credit cards, insurance providers, etc.

Your moving file will be your most important tool and the source of your peace of mind. Keep it with you at all times.

2. Be brave and purge before packing.  Don’t be tempted to drop an entire drawer of stuff into a box. This is the perfect time to declutter so be bold and just do it! Every item you decide to move should be moved for a reason — either you use it or you love it. Be ruthless with yourself and your kids so you don’t have to move more stuff than necessary. Remember, you will likely be paying movers based on the amount you have, and the more you move, the more you’ll have to unpack later.

3. Create a master packing list. Buy a big black marker pen and number each box as you pack it and write the number big and bold on all four sides. Don’t list the contents on the box. Instead, keep the details for each box on your master packing list in your moving file. Be specific when detailing the contents, so you’ll waste less time searching for things later.  Use masking tape and a marker to tag electronics cables for easy setup later.

4. Protect valuable items. Pack your jewelry and legal documents yourself in an unmarked (or misleadingly marked) box and carry it with you personally if possible. It is unlikely that you would have an issue with a professional mover but it is probably unwise to label a box “valuables” or “jewelry” especially if you are putting it in other people’s hands.

5. The moving day box. Plan for the actual big day of the move by putting together a moving day box with essentials that can be kept in your car. Moving is kind of like camping, so pack accordingly. Include:

  • Your moving file
  • Toilet paper, soap, toiletries, medications, chargers and batteries for electronics (invest in chargers that plug into your car’s lighter), paper towels, bath towels and bed sheets, so you can settle in quickly
  • Basic cleaning supplies
  • A small tool kit
  • Healthy snacks, paper plates, cups, utensils and a coffeemaker
  • Pet food, bowls, leash, pet bed
  • First aid kit

6. Don’t forget to involve the kids if you have any making the move with you. Get them involved by helping them pack their own travel bag with toiletries, pajamas and a few days’ worth of clothes. If your child has a favourite, comforting toy, bring it with you rather than packing it out of sight and out of reach.

7. Moving is hectic with pets especially if there will be several pit stops along the way. Moving day will be chaotic, with lots of open doors. Before moving day have ID tags made for your pets with your new address and be sure they wear their collar and new tags every moment of the move.

By having a detailed plan, you can focus on your family and the emotions surrounding a big change. Being well prepared is the best way for moving day to go off without a hitch. Hopefully, your process will be smooth, your trip a great adventure and your new Muskoka home a place you will love for a long time to come.

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Pets and Selling Your Muskoka Home

Karen Acton - Selling your Muskoka Home with PatsMany of us have a pet; a beloved friend and family member that brings us joy, companionship and sometimes security and protection. However, when it comes to selling a property, pets and potential buyers can be like oil and water.

From unpleasant odours, allergies, and in some cases fear, your pet can be a deal breaker. So here are some tips to help ensure that your potential buyer and your pet never cross paths unhappily.

Many people love dogs and cats, but there are people who don’t like them at all. Some prospective buyers may have mild discomfort around a certain type of pet while others could be terrified, especially of dogs or more exotic creatures such as spiders, snakes and lizards. A buyer whose phobia is triggered by your son’s huge, hairy, aggressive dog is no longer looking at your home with the eye of a buyer! The very best practice is to completely remove your pet from the home for showings. This may not always be an option so the next best solution is to confine you pets so they have little or no impact on the potential buyer.

My best advice for the exotic creatures is to get a like-minded friend to take care of them while the home is on the market. Failing that, cover the cage for showings so it cannot be seen.

Litter boxes and puppy pads in corners are a definite source of odour. The smell of urine will not only leave a poor impression with your potential buyer but may leave them with concerns that urine has penetrated into flooring. This could result in “low ball” offers or worse – no offers at all. If you think that urine has gotten into flooring or even sub floors, deal with it prior to listing as, if undisclosed, has the potential to result in costly lawsuits after a deal has closed. It is also good to remember that you’re accustomed to the smell of your own home and may not notice these smells, so ask a friend you trust to walk through and let you know if there are areas that need attention.

If you have pets in your home it will be impossible to completely remove all the hair and dander, but for the sake of the allergic buyer, make a valiant effort to get as much hair and dust from floors and surfaces as possible. Again, a buyer who is sneezing and rubbing their eyes cannot see how lovely your kitchen is! Cats tend to cause more issues than dogs in this regard, and since cats generally get into more nooks and crannies, try to get a damp cloth over all the surfaces they travel. If they have a favorite sitting place cover that spot with a nice throw or blanket to attract the hair and prevent it from being in the air or getting on clothing.

When it comes to showings, even the best behaved cat can create issues with buyers. A nervous cat that realizes a stranger is in the house can dash out from under a bed or race through the home and run under people’s feet as they walk up your stairs. Dogs may be easy-going when the homeowner is around but suddenly territorial when strangers are going through their house. You may not have experienced the aggressive side of your pet and you do not want your potential buyer to be the one who does. Leaving your dog in the yard or garage is not ideal either. These are parts of your home the buyer will want to see too and an upset dog lunging at the door or at the end of a chain is not going to leave a great impression.

Taking your pets away from the home for showings is ideal but don’t forget to put all the gear away. Make sure pet bowls are not out and beds and litter boxes (clean so there are no smells sneaking out) are put completely out of the way.

Remember that your goal is to sell your home, so enabling potential buyers to view it without unpleasant smells, allergic episodes, trip and fall hazards, fear or distraction is the way to do it.

This may seem like a lot of extra work and impractical to sustain but if you home is priced right and shows beautifully, you’ll only have to do it for a short time and you can get back to “normal” in your new Muskoka home before you know it.