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The Zen of Moving: 7 Tips to Keep it Under Control

When you think of moving, the last thing you think of is an easy, calming and masterful process. Most often, the words complicated, stressful and disorganized are much more suitable. Being the daughter of a retired branch banker, I have done my share of packing and moving over the years and, while I am not an expert, I have certainly earned some merit points. Even so, I thought that there must be some things that we can do to make the process a little less stressful and perhaps even a little enjoyable. With this goal in mind, I recently sat down with Soraiya Kara, the owner of POSabilities Personal Organizing and Chair of the Professional Organizers of Canada (BC Lower Mainland Chapter) to get some expert tips.

So, what can you do to foster a little Zen in your moving process?

1. Start early and have a plan

If you know that you are going to be moving in the future, start early and tackle things step by step. Some families find it useful to create a moving plan on Excel that lists the various tasks that need to be done and when they should be done by. Get the entire family involved by assigning tasks to each person. Even young children can help by putting toys into bins and towels into boxes.

2. Relax and get comfortable

Why sit in the den or garage and go through boxes when you can do the same thing in front of your cozy fireplace. Put on some nice music or a favourite movie that you know by heart. Light some candles and pour yourself a glass of wine. Don’t overcomplicate things and start with three boxes: Keep, Recycle and Donate. This is an excellent start.

3. Use the Mirror Test

We often keep things because they were given to us by a special family member years ago and we feel obligated to keep them. When you pick up this item, whether it is a painting or piece of china, look at your reaction in a mirror. Do you smile or screw up your face a little? Give yourself permission to get rid of things. Just because your aunt gave you the china does not mean that you must keep it forever. If you are not in love with the china and do not enjoy using it, you are not remembering her in the right way.

4. Don’t forget the rewards

If you have a large project to get through, give yourself a reward once the project is done. This could be going for a massage or manicure or perhaps playing a round of golf. If your project involves the entire family, like organizing the garage, pick something that the entire family would enjoy. Head out to the theatre for a movie night or order in a special meal that everyone likes.

5. Label and colour code boxes

Keep things simple for your family and the movers by labeling and colour-coding each box. You can find colour-coded labels at most Vancouver self storage facilities or you can make your own. Make sure that you label the boxes on two sides, and not on the top, so that you can easily find your box when needed. In your new home, use painter’s tape to label the various rooms so that the movers know where to place your boxes. If you are planning to place some of your boxes in a self storage facility, stack your boxes in the unit by colour-code. This will help you locate what you need much faster.

6. Create a memory box

We often hold onto things because they evoke special memories and we are afraid that we will lose them if the object is not around. Consider placing some of these items into a special memory box that you can keep and go through when you wish. This could be a fun project for children. If the item is very large, awkward or no longer needed, you could take a photo of it and place it in a special scrapbook. Often, just seeing the photo will be enough to bring back the memories. When helping my mother-in-law move last year, I came across a hunk of shapeless, melted foam on a trophy base. There was a rock stuck to the top of the foam. When I showed her this item, she broke into a big smile. Apparently, the object was a trophy that her boys gave to their dad for Father’s Day 40 years ago. He accidentally left it on the sidewalk and it melted and picked up a rock from the driveway. They had kept it for 40 years because it triggered a special memory. We took a photo of it.

7. Stay somewhere else for a few days

If you are able, stay somewhere else for a couple of days, especially if you have children and pets. This way, you do not have to worry about packing linens, pillows, dishes and other items just before the movers arrive. Arrange for your children to have a sleepover at a friend’s house and put the pets in daycare for a couple of days. Moving is extremely difficult on pets and you will feel more relaxed if you know that your children are enjoying themselves elsewhere.

So, if you are considering a move in the coming year, reflect on these tips and see if any will work for you. With a little planning and some organization, it is possible to remove some of the stress and make the moving experience more pleasant for your entire family.

Tracy McEvoy has been managing commercial real estate for over 25 years and has held senior management positions with several of Canada’s largest real estate companies. Presently, she runs Maple Leaf Self Storage Inc. in Canada and has over 14,000 tenants. Maple Leaf Self Storage has been helping families and businesses for over 30 years. Soraiya Kara has been a professional organizer in Greater Vancouver for over 15 years and has created a special service called “The Stress-Free Move”. She can be reached at Soraiya@posabilitiesorganizing.com

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As people return from summer vacation and look ahead to the fall housing market, they'll be greeted with positive news: A recent Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) report confirmed that housing starts are forecast to stabilize in 2011 and 2012.

"Modest economic growth, in conjunction with relatively low mortgage rates, will continue to support demand for new homes in 2011 and 2012. Nonetheless, we are expecting new and existing housing markets to fall in line with demographic fundamentals, as changes to mortgage rules take hold," said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist for CMHC.

Existing home sales are expected to be in the range of 429,500 to 480,000 units in 2011, while the CMHC expects MLS® sales to move up in 2012, to somewhere in the range of 410,000 to 511,900 units.

The average MLS® price is expected to experience an overall increase this year, although as the existing home market balances out next year in 2012, growth in the average MLS® price in 2012 is expected to be more modest than in 2011.

If you're thinking of putting your home on the market, you'll want to find out specifics about the real estate climate in your area, and what you can do to ensure the highest sales price for your property. Similarly, if you're looking to buy, you'll need information on what's coming up for sale in your area of interest.

The first step to a successful property transaction starts with a phone call. Please call to talk about your unique real estate needs, today!

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The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reported a solid, more "typical" month of residential home sales on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in April, compared to the near record pace experienced in the two preceding months.

Residential property sales of detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver reached 3,225 in April 2011, an 8.2 percent decrease compared to the 3,512 sales in April 2010, and a 21 percent decline compared to the exceptional 4,080 sales in March 2011.

Rosario Setticasi, REBGV president, explained, "The year-over-year decline in April sales can be attributed to a less active condominium market on our MLS®, as there were more detached and townhome sales this April compared to last year."

Setticasi also noted, "While it continues to be a seller's market in Greater Vancouver, last month's activity brought greater balance between supply and demand in the overall marketplace."

At 14,187, the total number of residential property listings on the MLS® increased 8.2 percent in April compared to March 2011, and declined 10 percent from April of last year.

"There's considerable variation in activity within the communities in our region. This is causing home price trends to differ depending on the area," Setticasi said. "Your local REALTOR® is a valuable resource for obtaining the most accurate, up- to-date market evaluation."

Whether you're thinking of making a move, or are just curious about the prices in your immediate area, it's always interesting to see which direction the market is trending.

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The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reported that activity in the Greater Vancouver housing market continued to strengthen in March 2011, with both the number of homes sold and number of homes added to the region's Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) reaching near-record levels.

"Our market has had a very strong start to the spring season," noted Rosario Setticasi, REBGV president. "With home sales above 4,000 and nearly 7,000 home listings added to the MLS® in March, it's clear that homebuyers and sellers view this as a good time to be active in their local housing market."

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales of detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver reached 4,080 in March 2011. This represents a 31.7 percent increase compared to the 3,097 sales recorded in February 2011, and an increase of 30.1 percent compared to the 3,137 sales in March 2010. Looking back further, it also reflects an 80.1 percent increase from the 2,265 home sales in March 2009.

"Conditions favour sellers at the moment, but we're seeing differences in home-price trends and overall activity depending on the region and property type," Setticasi said.

The MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver over the last 12 months increased 5.4 percent to $615,810 in March 2011, from $584,435 in March 2010.

Curious about how your particular neighborhood compares to the overall market? Even if you're not planning to move right now, it's still important to be aware of current home values. Please remember that you may call for a real estate update at any time, with no obligation.

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Demand for detached homes across Greater Vancouver continued to be strong throughout the month of February, with particularly high sales volumes occurring in Richmond and Vancouver Westside.

The Greater Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reported that, for the first two months of the year, the number of properties listed for sale and those sold on the Multiple Listing Service® in Greater Vancouver outpaced the 10-year average in both categories. From a historical perspective, February's 3,097 home sales outpaced the 2,742 home sale average recorded in the region over the last ten years.

"We saw an increase in demand across our region last month as more buyers entered the market in advance of the spring season," said Jake Moldowan, REBGV president. "The intensity of this activity varied between communities. Our statistics tell us that single detached homes in Richmond and the west side of Vancouver remain the most sought after properties in our marketplace."

Between November 2010 and February 2011, the MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price of a detached home in Richmond increased $190,739 to $1,099,679, while in Vancouver West, detached home prices increased $222,185 to $1,850,072. In comparison, detached home prices across the region increased $51,762 between November 2010 and February 2011 to $848,645.

"To effectively analyse real estate statistics for the purpose of buying or selling a home, it's critical to focus on your neighborhood of choice because, like we see today, conditions and prices can fluctuate significantly within the same city or municipality," Moldowan said.

Please call to find out how your current home, or a property in an area you are interested in, compares to the latest market activity report.

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The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) noted in its January 2011 report that while the Greater Vancouver housing market experienced balanced market conditions for the first month of this year, some of the region's largest communities experienced higher levels of buyer demand than the average, during the same period.
"There was a healthy balance between the number of homebuyers and sellers in our market in January, but there's always variation in activity from region to region," said Jake Moldowan, REBGV president.
"We're seeing strong sellers' market conditions in areas like Richmond and the west side of Vancouver."
To get an idea of how those two "hotspots" compare to the norm, note that over the past 12 months the MLSLink® Housing Price Index benchmark price of detached homes increased 2.7 percent, compared to 22.6 percent in Richmond and 12.2 percent in Vancouver West. Because of this disparity, Moldowan reinforced the importance of knowing current market conditions.
"When you're looking to buy or sell a home, it's important to familiarize yourself with the wider trends in the market. It's equally important to seek out knowledge of your local area so you understand current market conditions in your neighbourhood."

Sales of detached properties on the MLS® in January 2011 reached 793, an increase of 12.5 percent from the 705 detached sales recorded in January 2010. Sales of apartments and attached properties didn't fare quite as well during the same period. Apartment sales declined almost 21 percent compared to January 2010, while sales of attached properties declined just over four percent from January 2010. The benchmark price for all three types of housing increased slightly, however, between January 2010 and January 2011.

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The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.