5 Things to Do Before Moving Out of Your House

Tips for Sellers Who Are Moving at the Closing

empty room with mop and boxes
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No matter how organized you think you are, when you're moving out of your house, it's almost always a stressful time. Mix in the fact that most people who sell a home are also buying another home, and you've got double the stress, especially if both transactions are closing concurrently.

Your real estate agent can be a big help to you if you ask for advice. Not only will most agents refer companies and individuals who can help to make your move go more smoothly, but your agent has probably handled many closings just like yours. If you've hired an experienced agent to sell your home, that agent will most likely be able to spot potentially troublesome situations and prevent problems from happening in the first place.

Cleaning the house is the first order of business. It's an easy task to overlook because you're so busy packing boxes and carting them around that you might not notice the dirt accumulating. And just wait until you move the refrigerator or washer and dryer from the spots that have not seen the light of day since you moved in years ago.

Keep a few cleaning supplies handy for this purpose, and a mop. It's not unusual for a seller to wonder how clean should a seller leave the house after closing. The seller of a short sale asked me that very question recently. He was hoping, I suppose, that because it was a short sale it didn't matter how clean he left the house, but it does. Because another buyer is moving in. A buyer much like he was when he originally bought the home.

I suggested that he clean the house like he had a security deposit at risk, even though he owns the home and, of course, there is no security deposit.

Second, forward your mail and leave the mailbox key behind. Go online to usps.com and change your address. It's much more convenient than going to the post office in person. Make sure you notify companies that mail monthly or bi-monthly subscriptions, like magazines, that you are moving. Sometimes, sellers will leave their mail carrier a goodbye gift, which also serves to remind the mail carrier that they will no longer live at their address.

In a kitchen drawer, you might consider leaving your forwarding address for the new buyers, just in case any boxes or gifts are delivered to the house after you have moved out. Leave the mailbox key, the number of the mailbox and its location, if you live in a complex, for the buyer as well. Some centrally located mailboxes store keys at the post office.

Third, notify the utility companies of your moving date. Give each utility company the date to discontinue service and the address for forwarding your final utility bill. Generally, that date will be the day the sale of your home closes. Ask your agent for a list of gas, electric, water, sewer, trash, garbage and cable utility companies. Remember to cancel your daily newspaper, if you subscribe to your news in print and discontinue / disconnect the security alarm service.

Fourth, call your home insurance agent to cancel your homeowner's insurance policy. You probably have already established a new insurance policy to begin coverage on your new home, but that doesn't mean your insurance agent will automatically discontinue coverage on your existing home. You might also have more than one insurance agent or have changed insurance agents but left your homeowner's policy in place. Your lender will not cancel your homeowner's insurance, you need to do this yourself.

Fifth, organize your packed moving boxes. It is easier to move your boxes around before the movers arrive. Remember that the first box on the truck means it will be the last box off the truck. Arrange the order of your boxes by rooms, if you can. Label the bedrooms by color or number, and make labels for each of the bedroom doors in your new home. This will help the movers to identify the correct rooms for each of your boxes.

You might also consider numbering your boxes after counting each of them. Your first box would be #1 of #99 master suite, for example. The second box #2 of #99 master suite. That gives you an easy way to count to determine whether any box was misplaced.

Bonus tip: I pack a separate overnight box for myself, containing personal items, clothing, dishes, pet medications, anything that I might need immediately upon moving into a new home and don't want to spend time digging through boxes to find. It used to take me 3 days to unpack an entire home when I was younger, and now it takes 3 weeks.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, BRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California