For A Better ROI, Look For A Property Management Service That Has A Team

Posted by on Jul 29, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on For A Better ROI, Look For A Property Management Service That Has A Team

Many landlords who use a property management service hire the least-expensive company in their area. This often is a single individual, who doesn’t have the overhead that larger companies do but also lacks their resources. If you’re looking for a property management service, a company that employs a team of individuals could help you see a greater return on investment (ROI) than a single person can — even if the company’s fee is higher. Here are the team members you should look for in a property management company, along with how each will help you earn more money. A Licensed Real Estate Agent The requirements for becoming a property manager vary from state to state. As All Property Management’s list shows, 40 states require property managers to obtain a real estate broker license. The remaining 10 states and the District of Columbia have lower standards, ranging from no requirement in Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont to a property management license in South Dakota, South Carolina, Oregon, Montana and the District of Columbia. Even if your rental units are in a state that doesn’t require a real estate broker’s license, you should seek out a property manager who has one. Anyone can post a listing on generic websites and put a sign in a property’s front lawn, but only licensed real estate agents and brokers are able to list your available units in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Listing your rentals in MLS puts them in front of real estate agents, who are the most likely people to know of someone looking for a place to live. Your property manager should still list your available units on their website and put up a “for rent” sign, but this is another way they can promote your vacancies. An Assistant, or Several Your property management service should have a licensed real estate agent, but they may not be your primary contact at the company. Assistants, who don’t have real estate licenses, are able to take care of day-to-day operations, like collecting rent, performing inspections and arranging repairs. While a licensed manager might be busy with other tasks, assistants can expedite routine communications. Whenever there’s an issue with one of your properties, they can make sure it’s quickly resolved, keeping your tenants happy and in your units. Assistants provide an additional benefit if you’re hoping to grow your rental portfolio in the future. According to WikiHow, a manager who has the right tools and efficient processes can look after 35-40 properties. By hiring assistants to work under a licensed real estate broker, a company can increase the number of properties they can manage yet still be able to list any vacancies on MLS. As you (and other clients) purchase more properties, a management company can simply hire more assistants to maintain the same level of service. An Accountant Few property management companies are large enough to employ a full-time certified public accountant (CPA), but they should have someone who is familiar with tax laws and finances on their staff. Your property management company should have someone who specializes in bookkeeping, though, even if they aren’t a licensed CPA. In addition to helping you keep track of tax-deductible expenses, this person should also be able to help you decide when to make...

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What You Need To Know If An Animal Gets Trapped In Your Chain Link Fencing

Posted by on Jul 28, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What You Need To Know If An Animal Gets Trapped In Your Chain Link Fencing

Many homeowners and commercial property owners install chain link fencing to keep animals out. However, sometimes, being the curious creatures they are, animals still try to squeeze their way through chain link fencing. Once stuck, they need help to get out or they will die. If you have chain link fencing on your property, it’s a good idea to know what to do should you ever find an animal stuck in your residential or commercial chain link fence. Here’s what you need to know. Treat the animal as if it is rabid Rabies is a serious disease that can be transmitted to you from the saliva or brain and nervous system tissue of a rabid animal. That means any bite or scratch could expose you to rabies. Coming into contact with urine, tears and breast milk can also expose you to rabies. You may have seen movies and television shows that showed animals foaming at the mouth when they have rabies. While that can happen, not all animals foam at the mouth when they are infected. The most common symptom of rabies in animals is a change in behavior. However, if you do not know the particular animal that is stuck in your fencing, you may not know what its normal behavior is to make this determination. Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure if an animal has rabies is through a blood test. For this reason, it is in your best interest to treat the animal as if it has rabies. Do not touch the animal unless you are wearing protective clothing. A pair of thick work gloves can protect you from bites and scratches. Wear a shirt with long sleeves and a pair of long pants. Seek medical attention if you get scratched or bitten. Carefully free the animal if its a pet If the animal appears to be a pet and is wearing a collar, try to get close enough to the animal to see the owner’s contact information. If so, then place a call to the owner so he or she can come out and help free their pet from your fencing. While wearing protective gear, use petroleum jelly to lubricate the top of the head or the part of the animal that is the thickest. This may help the animal slide out of the chain link fencing. If that doesn’t work, use wire cutters to snip the wires in the chain link fencing to free the animal. If the animal does not have a collar on or you are unable to free the pet, call your local animal control services. Call the authorities if the animal is wild If the animal is wild, call wildlife control for assistance. You can reach this number by calling the local police department. Wildlife are not used to being in contact with humans, so you may have a fight on your hands. If a wild animal is docile, it’s a sign that it may be rabid. Remember, the most common symptom of rabies is a change in behavior. It’s better to leave the freeing of a wild animal up to the authorities. If the animal is large, wildlife control will likely need to bring their truck as close as possible to the fence. If the animal is...

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Paying for Employee Travel? Offer These 4 Features to Control Travel Costs

Posted by on Jul 23, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Paying for Employee Travel? Offer These 4 Features to Control Travel Costs

Offering features and perks to your employees who travel for business is a great way to keep them motivated while working in the field, as well as build loyalty and trust with one another. But it’s important to consider the potential costs of the features you want to offer to ensure that they don’t create an unmanageable budget. Here are a few features your employees are sure to appreciate and that will help to control your company’s travel costs: Taxi Services Covering car rentals for each business trip throughout the year can get costly, especially when you factor in gas and insurance fees. Instead of paying for personal transportation, offer your employees taxi coupons through local services like Yellow Cab to use for essential travel while they’re out of town. To determine what value the taxi coupons should have for a given employee, figure out how much travel will be needed for work while they’re out of town and add a small percentage (for example ten percent) as a personal travel allowance. If your employee wants to travel more often by vehicle, they can pay for additional taxi charges or rent a car themselves. Kitchenettes To save you and your employee money on food expenses, establish accommodations for your traveling employees that include kitchenettes so they can be stocked for the duration of the trip. This will help to ensure that room service and restaurants can be avoided for the most part, and provide some convenience for your employees so they don’t have to spend their free time searching for a meal. You can then provide a small food stipend to help employees buy groceries, and limit the company food spending account for business dinners. Spending Vouchers If your traveling employees often meet with clients while on the road, chances are that they are expected to take charge when it comes to entertainment during casual meetings that will hopefully result in closing a deal. But by leaving entertainment plans up to your employees, you leave your budget wide open and out of control. So consider working with a national concierge service who can give you a list of attractions in areas where you’re sending employees, and then offering your employees a choice between a list of entertainment options you provide them. You can then simply provide vouchers for the attractions, restaurants, and other amenities that are added to the itinerary. Some Free Time When the brain is stimulated with enjoyable activities it tends to perform better overall, which translates to improved productivity as an employee. Because of this, it’s pertinent to ensure that your employees have free time while they’re away on business so they can participate in activities they personally enjoy. When employees are enjoying personal time when they aren’t on the clock, this can indirectly help you save some money on salaries for traveling employees. Instead of scheduling employees for eight hours on the clock daily while they’re traveling, schedule them for five or six hours during the day along with evening meetings with customers. This will give your employees plenty of time for sightseeing, relaxation, and stress management so they’re more likely to make every minute they do spend working count. If it isn’t possible to provide some free time to employees while they’re away on...

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3 Quick Tips To Help Your Child Cope With Their First Home Move

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Quick Tips To Help Your Child Cope With Their First Home Move

While the process of relocating may seem commonplace for adults, it is still a difficult time for a young child to go through. Particularly if they were raised in your current property, it can oftentimes be difficult to break a child’s emotional connection with their childhood. However, there are a few things you can do to make the move that much easier on them. Let Them Have Their Say Adults are used to making decisions on behalf of their children, and as such children can often feel like their parents aren’t listening to them. While you’re only doing what’s best for them, you may have to take a step back and listen intently to their concerns about moving home. This will allow you to make the best decisions when planning the move such that the entire family is happy. While you’re not likely going to allow the kids to choose your next property (understandable!), you should find out what they would like in their new home. Oftentimes, you can appease your child by explaining to them why moving is a great thing for your family. If you have made a conscious effort to choose an area or property that has some appeal to them, this process will be made much easier. Come moving day, you’ll have a child who feels listened to and is excited to reach their new destination, saving you unnecessary stress when relocating. Allow Them Their Lap of Honor When moving day is right around the corner, it can oftentimes be easy to become completely entrenched in organizing your belongings. Particularly if you’ve left things a little late (as most people do), you may start to feel stressed out and overwhelmed with the prospect of moving home. However, to ensure your children is fully prepared to move home, you must control your stress and allow them to say goodbye to their neighborhood. This can be as simple as taking your child for a walk around a few blocks to see the sights before you set off. Or it may involve taking your kid around to each of their friends’ homes to say goodbye. Whatever it may be, you must allow your child to say goodbye to the neighborhood before moving day arrives. Moving is difficult on children, and as your current neighborhood is the only environment they’ve likely ever known, it can take some time to get over this. Taking your child on a lap of honor around their favorite areas will make the process that much easier on them. Understand it Will Take Time to Settle in Your children have become accustomed to their family home, and as such, relocating to an entirely new area can cause them to feel overwhelmed. This is entirely natural; you just have to give your kid the time to settle in. With that said, you can help speed the process along by implementing a few simple tips. Firstly, you could let your child unpack their boxes on their own if they are old enough. This will give them a sense of responsibility and will let them unpack everything at their own pace. Secondly, you should take your children on a tour of the area soon after you have moved in. This will allow them to experience the sights, sounds...

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When Should You Seek Legal Assistance In Evicting A Tenant?

Posted by on Jul 14, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on When Should You Seek Legal Assistance In Evicting A Tenant?

If you own a rental house, you’ll likely be faced at some point with the issue of when and whether to evict a nonpaying tenant. Depending upon your state’s laws, you may be faced with a lengthy legal process or a fairly short one — but all states have specific notice and deadline requirements when it comes to being able to regain physical control of your rental home. When can you perform an eviction yourself, and when should you get some professional help? Read on to learn more about tackling an eviction. What does the eviction process entail? Each state has its own timelines with regard to providing notice to a tenant that you’re beginning the eviction process. In some states, this process can begin as soon as a day after their missed rent payment — other states allow the tenant a few weeks’ “grace period” to make up the late payment before you’re able to take action. Once you’ve provided the tenant with notice that the eviction process is beginning, you’ll need to file a complaint with your local civil or small claims court. This complaint will set forth the information that makes up your claim, including the dates of the missed payments, any efforts you made to secure payment, and your provision of the pre-eviction notice to the tenants. The court will then set a hearing date, and will call both you and the tenant to appear in court to present your cases. Depending upon the strength of your evidence, the judge will decide in your favor and grant your eviction, allow the tenant some additional time to catch up on payments, or deny the eviction and dismiss the case. In some situations, the tenant may fail to appear at this hearing — if so, and your evidence is strong, you’ll likely receive a default judgment allowing you to reclaim your property after the tenant has been provided a certain number of days to move out. If your tenant fails to move out by the deadline, he or she may be assessed additional costs and penalties. However, recovering these costs can be another process in itself. When should you hire legal assistance in evicting a tenant? Many states have put the paperwork needed to file an eviction online — if your case is a fairly routine one, you’ll usually be able to handle the process yourself by reviewing the applicable laws and filling out the forms. However, there are a number of factors that can make a case more complicated, and trying to tackle them yourself could delay your eviction, cost you money, or result in damage to your rental property. If you suspect that your tenant has violated laws (like using or selling drugs from the property), has purposely defaced the property, or has allowed it to fall into disrepair, you may want to sue for additional monetary damages to help compensate you for your time, trouble, and property damage. For this, you’ll usually need the assistance of an attorney. What other eviction assistance is available? Once you’ve received a judgment of eviction, you may still have some difficulty when it comes to actually physically getting your tenant (and his or her belongings) out of your rental home. You may want to contact an eviction services...

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Do Your Summer Energy Bills Make You Sweat? Cut Your Usage With These Seasonal Air Conditioning Tips

Posted by on Jul 10, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Do Your Summer Energy Bills Make You Sweat? Cut Your Usage With These Seasonal Air Conditioning Tips

Americans spend an estimated 22 billion dollars yearly on air conditioning alone. With the hottest summer months in full swing, it’s easy to see how cutting down on cooling costs is an intimidating proposition. Still, you don’t have to take high energy costs as a given — you can use these tips to help reduce your home’s energy usage during the most intensive days of the year. Host A Barbecue Or Two Cooking indoors can generate some serious heat, especially if you make food for the whole family and prepare 2-3 meals per day. After you use the stove, oven, or microwave, the generated heat has to go somewhere. As the heat radiates into your home, the air conditioner has to work harder to cool the house back down to your selected temperature. In order to drive your energy usage back down, it’s a good idea to cook outside as much as possible during the summer months. This has the added benefit of getting people out of the house for several hours during the hottest part of the day. With everyone outside, you can bump up the temperature in your home and reduce cooling costs.  Check Your Duct Insulation Central air conditioners keep your home evenly cooled by circulating fresh cold air to every room through your house’s ductwork. When the ducts are improperly insulated or have air leaks, your A/C has to work harder to get the same amount of air where it needs to go. Leaks tend to appear at the seams, so taping over them will cut down on escaping air. Blankets can make for a quick, temporary fix for poorly insulated ductwork as well. Air conditioners can also be overworked if your attic is low on insulation as well. Since your home’s total volume has to be cooled before you’ll feel the temperature change, attics with less insulation leave more air for your A/C to chill. If you don’t use your attic, filling it up with insulation will significantly reduce your energy usage. Hang Up The Drying Line Like cooking, using your clothes dryer can generate a fair amount of heat. After you open up the dryer and take the clothes out, this heat dissipates into your home and increases the overall temperature. Wearing freshly dried clothes in summer can be uncomfortable as well, since additional warmth can get you quickly sweating.  Using a clothesline on sunny days will allow you to dry out your clothing without heating up your house or yourself. As an added bonus, your energy bill will go down even more, since you don’t have to pay to run your dryer. Sure, each load may only cost a few cents, but it adds up over the course of a whole summer. Upgrade To Central Air Conditioning When you only need to cool off one or two rooms, window conditioners can be plenty efficient. On the other hand, if you need your whole house cooled off, window units will cost you more in the long run than a central cooling system.  Central air conditioners can also save you money in potential repairs and replacements as well. The average window unit lasts around 10 years at the most, but a good central A/C can last twice that, if properly maintained. Consolidating your cooling appliances...

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Lower Annual Overhead Costs When Starting A Business: 5 Ways To Save On Commercial Auto Insurance

Posted by on Jul 8, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Lower Annual Overhead Costs When Starting A Business: 5 Ways To Save On Commercial Auto Insurance

Starting your own business and seeing your ideas take off is awfully encouraging; however, there are many hiccups you’ll have to overcome in the beginning. 8 out of 10 small businesses will fail within 18 months of getting started. While there are many factors contributing to this, not learning how to properly manage expenses can cause your business to take a big hit. You should try to lower annual overhead costs – especially when your business is still stabilizing.  If your business relies on a commercial vehicle, here are 5 ways you can save on commercial auto insurance. Opt for a Longer Insurance Contract Paying for commercial auto insurance month by month may help you break down the payments into smaller amounts; however, chances are you will be paying a lot more annually. If you definitely need the car around, opt for a longer insurance contract. Although you’ll be paying a larger amount initially, you’ll be saving a lot of money each month for the same amount of coverage. Pay for the Costs Upfront Most insurance companies can set-up affordable payment plans with you; however, do keep in mind you’ll be charged more service fees in the long run. Some insurance companies will even negotiate better premiums with you if you’re willing to pay for everything upfront. Don’t hesitate to ask. Bundle Commercial Auto Insurance with Other Business Insurance Policies When starting a business, you’ll be spending a lot of money on insurance like general liability insurance, property insurance, professional liability insurance and worker’s compensation. Don’t buy insurance from separate companies. Instead, bundle it all up, and the insurance company will kick back some savings to you. You’ll also get better coverage on all of the policies. It’s a win-win situation for both parties. Be Wary of Who You Cover Just because there is a company car doesn’t mean everyone should have access to it. If the company car is for making deliveries or for picking up clients, review driving records of all employees to see whether they have been responsible in the past. You should be wary of who you cover and can save a lot of money if you don’t cast the net far. Instead, limit access of the company car to experienced drivers with a lot of history on the road. By avoiding high-risk or young drivers, you could help your company save a lot on commercial auto insurance because there is a lower risk of accidents happening on the road. Some insurance companies will request for you to send identification documents of all of the employees who are permitted to drive the vehicle. To prevent any mishaps from happening, be careful when you give the car keys away. Consider the Type of Coverage Needed Last but not least, consider the type and amount of coverage your company needs. For example, while you definitely need liability coverage, you may not need collision coverage if the company car is rather old and you have no interest in repairing the vehicle should it be involved in an accident. The amount of coverage needed should also be taken into consideration. You need to be aware of your state’s requirements. Conclusion If you’re looking to lower annual overhead costs, speak with an experienced insurance broker regarding what you can do....

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But Wait, There’s More! 3 Extra Freebies To Look For When Renting A Storage Unit

Posted by on Jul 7, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on But Wait, There’s More! 3 Extra Freebies To Look For When Renting A Storage Unit

There are over 40,000 self-storage facilities operating in the U.S. Individual entrepreneurs own most of these facilities. As a result, it’s a buyer’s market, and you have a lot of options to choose from. Most self-storage facilities offer extra freebies to attract more clients. Before you sign your name on the dotted line of the rental contract, make sure you inquire about the freebies that each facility can offer. In particular, these 3 specific freebies can make your life a lot easier or can make the units a lot cheaper. Full-Service Movers and Moving Supplies for When You Move In Getting everything all packed up and moved to the storage facility can be a lot of work and can also be rather costly. Some self-storage facilities will cover the cost of hiring full-service movers and even provide much needed moving supplies for when you first move in. This will make your life a lot easier. The professional movers know just how to pack and store your items, so they incur minimal amount of damage when stored. For example, the professional movers will pack all of your books spine by spine in cardboard boxes to make sure they last the trip. With the help of professional movers, you can rest assured that none of your items are going to break. In addition, full-service movers can help you save a lot of time and headache. Free Moving Trucks On-Site That Can Be Borrowed At Any Time If you are going to be using your storage unit, like one at All American Self Storage, regularly unloading and loading seasonal items, you’ll probably need to rent a moving truck. The cost of renting a moving truck can run pretty steep. You can expect a 14-foot rental truck to cost anywhere from $20 to $30 for eight hours plus $0.68 to $1.10 per mile the truck traveled. If you’ll be going back and forth, you can expect hefty charges. This doesn’t include the cost of insurance, fuel and other expenses. Some self-storage facilities are sympathetic to the high cost of renting moving trucks. As a result, they will have moving trucks on-site for you to borrow although you might have to reserve or book the trucks ahead of time. If your facility offers on-site trucks that can be borrowed, inquire further as to whether you are responsible for purchasing insurance or whether you need to fuel up the truck before returning it. Better Rental Prices for Signing Longer Contracts or Paying in Advance One of the main advantages of a competitive market is that the clients and customers have the upper hand. If you don’t feel comfortable with negotiating a price with the self-storage facility owners, you should at least inquire about the promotional deals they offer. Ask whether signing a longer contract or paying for several months in advance will result in a discount that will lower your overall cost. Some self-storage facilities may not offer discounts for longer contracts or for paying in advance, but may be willing to offer you other referral deals. For example, you might get a gift card for signing up for a longer contract or for putting money down for several months. Conclusion If you are in need of a self-storage unit, understand it’s a competitive market at...

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Five Ways To Evaluate Your Current Security Company

Posted by on Jul 2, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Five Ways To Evaluate Your Current Security Company

If you are the owner of a retail store–whether a stand alone building or one that sits among others in a strip mall–you know the critical importance of a security company. Security guards are your eyes and ears, watching for trouble so that you can concentrate on managing and growing your business. Yet do you know how to evaluate your security company? What should you be getting from the company you’re paying to protect your store? Here are five hallmarks of a stellar security company. 1. Demonstrated commitment to protecting business owners’ interests Does your security company have a track record of excellent performance in your community? Can you point to times where guards have protected your store from property damage or theft? Do you get the feeling as you interact with guards and your company point of contact that they want to provide you with more than minimum protection? You want to know that those you are paying to look after your business care about doing so with integrity. 2. High standards for guards Ask the security manager about the hiring standards for new guards. While some companies run a cursory background check and do in-house training, a stellar security company has high expectations of its guards. Thorough background checks (including running names of new guards against sex offender registries) and an investment in quality training courses (including CPR and First Aid) show that the company’s guards are trustworthy and prepared. 3. Above and beyond services What do you expect from your security company? Hourly rounds? Notification after an attempted or successful break-in? Look for a company that will exceed your expectations. If you just feel “so-so” about who’s currently providing security for you, you need a change. 4.Communication, communication, communication Communication among the security guards, their manager, and you needs to be comfortable and copious. For instance, do you receive detailed daily reports on activity around your business? Do you have an easily accessible point of contact at the security company who you can talk to about any concerns? Are the guards personable when you approach them? Lastly, you want to know that any concerns you do have are promptly addressed with the guards by the manager so that communication is a full circle. 5.Openness of access Can you, at any given time, go outside and see the on duty guard alert and watchful? Are the guards approachable enough that, if you wanted, you could walk with them on rounds just to get a sense of the foot traffic around your store? You do not want to get the feeling that the guard is bothered by your extra interest or just making rounds because you’re there. Further, how well do the regular guards know the “people landscape” of your business? In other words, they should know the people who regularly pass by during the hours they are on duty and whether or not they represent a threat to your business. Finally, how expertly is the guard aware of the flow of activity at any given time? The officer should be able to point out to you what situations are occupying his/her attention when you walk up to talk. Whether you’ve used the same security company for years or just hired one recently, it’s always a good time...

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What Sized Truck Should You Rent For Your Move?

Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What Sized Truck Should You Rent For Your Move?

Moving companies tend to provide trucks in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. With all of the options and varieties available, it can be difficult for a customer to determine which truck is right for their moving project. To make matters worse, different rental companies often offer different truck sizes than their competition–meaning you can’t always ask a friend what worked for them, unless you’re using the same company. Fortunately, it isn’t too difficult to calculate the size of the perfect truck for your move–if you know what to consider. The process for doing this is straightforward, and begins with a critical look at the size of your key belongings. Determining Your Key Belongings When you’re planning a move, your key belongings are the items that are the largest–or the most unwieldy. If it weren’t for these objects, your move could be accomplished through multiple trips with your car or van. Examples of such objects are: Dressers Gun safes Large paintings Beds and mattresses Televisions Basically, key belongings are the items you need to consider when you’re renting a truck. The smallest truck you can rent for your move must still be able to hold your largest key belonging. As a general rule, your mattresses are a great place to start. By using a size chart, you can easily find the smallest truck that would work for you without having to tie your mattress down to the roof of the truck. Estimating Your Total Haul Once you’ve ruled out trucks that are too small, you’ll want to estimate how much space your belongings will actually require to move. This is extremely difficult if you don’t have a plan–after all, your belongings are rarely stacked into the smallest possible place. The good news is that there’s a mathematical formula for doing this estimate.  Start by counting the number of furnished rooms in your home. Do not count the bathrooms or the kitchen unless you’re moving furniture or appliances from the bathroom to your new home. Multiply that number by 150. For example, a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home with a living room, dining room, and an office would come out to 900 square feet. However, that doesn’t account for the amount of furnishings that you currently have. To do this, you’ll need to add or subtract square footage.  A simple way to do that is to multiply your total by 1.2 if your rooms feel crowded with furniture, or 0.8 if you’re more of a minimalist in terms of your style. To get even more specific, you can add square footage for specific things: High volume of clothing–add 100 Extra televisions/computers–add 50 Unique key belongings–calculate the volume of the belonging and add the exact number. Deciding On The Number Of Trips Now that you have a square foot estimate and you know what the minimum size of the truck must be, it’s time to calculate the number of trips that your move will take. This step is largely a matter of personal taste and convenience. However, there are a few universal things to consider when making this decision. First of all, the charge for moving up in truck size is usually not that significant. That said, larger trucks are often uncomfortable for novice truck drivers to operate. If you’re...

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