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Summit Real Estate Forum & Blog

Allison Simson


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Summit County is reminding residents of the dangers of radon, offers free testing kits

by Summit Daily Deepan Dutta

Summit County's commissioners have once again declared January "Radon Action Month," spotlighting the dangers of the silent, toxic gas lurking in some Colorado homes. The annual campaign reminds homeowners to get their homes tested for radon during the winter, when radon danger is at its highest.

Radon is a carcinogenic, naturally occurring radioactive gas that emanates from soil as radioactive metals decay underground. Radon is especially prevalent in Colorado due to the uniquely uranium-rich geology in the state. In mountain communities like Summit, the danger is even higher due to the presence of many heavy metals in the earth.

The Environmental Protection Agency suggests radon mitigation measures for homes and businesses if radon is detected at levels of 4.0 or more picocuries (a unit of radioactivity) per liter. The average radon level in homes nationwide is 1.3 pCi/L, while the average radon level in Summit homes is 10 pCi/L. The county says that's the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. It is estimated that radon is the cause of at least 21,000 deaths across the country each year.

"Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates," Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said in a press release. "Overall, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. And because of the high radon levels we see in Summit County, every home in our community should be tested."

While county and town building codes require radon mitigation in new construction, older buildings that were grandfathered into the current code do not usually have radon mitigation built in.

Without mitigation, radon can easily enter homes through the foundation, gaps around piping and other spaces around a home. During the winter months, when doors and windows tend to stay closed, the gas can get trapped in dangerously high concentrations. Ironically, that means there's actually a benefit from living in a poorly weatherized or insulated home.

"An old cabin that's very drafty is less of a problem since radon can escape," said Summit County environmental health manager Dan Hendershott. "The tighter a house is constructed and insulated, the more entrapment."

Fortunately for Summit County homeowners, the county has a program that offers free radon testing kits to residents to check how they're doing on levels. A similar statewide program handed out 6,000 free kits to Colorado residents within a day before running out.

There are different kits for short-term and long-term testing, with the short-term test lasting three to seven days and the long-term kit checking for radon over the course of three months to a year. While the latter will be more accurate about radon levels over time, either one can tell if there is a dangerous level of radon in the home.

The short-term test kits are about the size and shape of a postcard. The device should be hung in the lowest level of the home that's used on a regular basis, within the normal breathing zone — 2 to 6 feet from the floor. Once the test period ends, the device is mailed to a laboratory in the enclosed pre-addressed, postage-paid envelope. Test results can be retrieved online. If previous tests have not been performed properly, Summit County Environmental Health recommends retesting.

For more information on radon, including how to obtain a free test kit or finding a certified mitigation contractor, You can also stop by the environmental health department office at the County Commons in Frisco at 37 Peak One Drive. Free kits from the county are available while supplies last, and only available to Summit residents.

Summit School District continues to be one of the more successful districts in the state, maintaining a graduation rate significantly above state average while also keeping a very low dropout rate. That's according to the Colorado Department of Education, which released graduation and dropout statistics for 2018 this week.

The state's overall graduation rate continues to rise and the dropout rates fall as more students are staying in school and graduating in four years, completing with a High School Equivalency Diploma or a non-diploma certificate.

Colorado's four-year graduation rates have been steadily increasing from 77.3 percent in 2015, 78 percent in 2016, 79 percent in 2017 and 80.7 percent in 2018. Across Colorado, the 2018 graduating class had a rate of 1.7 percentage points higher than the 2017 graduating class, a difference of 2,540 more graduates from the year before. The 2018 graduating class also had a completion rate of 82.5 percent, which includes an additional 1,159 students who completed with an HSED or non-diploma certificate.

Female students continue to have higher graduation rates statewide. The four-year graduation rate for females was 84.6 percent and the male graduation rate was 77.1 percent.

Summit School District was above the state average with a graduation rate of 95.02 percent in 2018. The graduation rate in 2018 remained the same as 2017, while 2017's graduation rate was 5 percent higher than 2016. The high graduation rate placed Summit School District 14.3 percent higher than the state's graduation rate, ranking Summit near the top 25 percent of all Colorado school districts in 2018.

Summit also had a completion rate of 96.3 percent, which includes students who completed with an HSED or non-diploma certificate. The completion rate increased 0.4 percent from 2017, which was 95.9 percent.

In all Colorado schools, the dropout rate has been decreasing over the past several years. In the 2017-18 school year, Colorado's dropout rate was at an all time low of 2.2 percent. The rate was a tenth of a percent lower from the previous anticipated year of graduation.

Last year, Summit School District was well below the state average with a mere 0.4 percent dropout rate. That rate remained the same as 2017, which was a tenth of a percentage point lower than 2016.

"We are proud of all the hard work and dedication by students, families, teachers and staff," Summit School District superintendent Kerry Buhler said in a press release. "Summit School District remains committed to supporting student achievement, growth and success."

Buhler added that Summit has even more ambitious goals, striving to be one of the top school districts in the state for academic performance.

The goal is part of "Vision2020 v. 2.0," a new five-year roadmap that aims to better support the social-emotional and physical well-being of students, deliver student-centered instruction in every classroom, and achieve top-tier academic performance ranking in the state.

"With Vision2020 v. 2.0, Summit School District strives to 'champion student success' as we work toward ranking in the top 5 percent of school districts in Colorado for academic performance," Buhler said.

3 Things You Need in a Shifting Real Estate Market

by KCM

Whether you are thinking of selling your house or buying a home, today’s real estate headlines can be confusing – perhaps even concerning. What is actually happening with mortgage rates? Are home values dropping or are they just rising at a slower pace? What impact will the economy have on the housing market?

If you are either a buyer or seller (or both), you need to know what it will mean to your family if you go ahead with the move. You need to understand three things:

1. What is happening in the housing market right now?

Consumers must get past those fear-mongering headlines and gain a deep understanding of what is truly happening. How strong is buyer demand right now? How much competition do listings have today compared to what they will have in the spring? People want to make an educated decision on what is probably their family’s greatest financial asset.

2. Why is it happening?

Understanding the individual pieces that impact the sale or purchase of real estate is important. Understanding how those pieces impact each other is critical. How does the amount of a down payment impact the mortgage rate a buyer will be offered? Can you still price your house a ‘little ahead’ of the market and still be sure it will sell?

3. How do the first two affect your local market?

Basically, you want an understanding of the overall housing market and a simple and effective explanation of how it will impact your personal real estate goals.

Bottom Line

The best way to get all three is to work with a professional who understands this shifting real estate market and can expertly guide you on the journey to reach your housing goals. Let’s get together to discuss what today’s market means for you.

Buying A Vacation Property? Now Is A Good Time!

by KCM

Every year around this time, many homeowners begin the process of preparing their homes in case of extreme winter weather. Some others skip winter all together by escaping to their vacation homes in a warmer climate.

For those homeowners staying at their first residence, AccuWeather warns:

“The late-week cold shot should fade next week, but this is a warning shot for winter’s return late in the month and early February.”

Given this, it’s time to go and stock up on winter weather supplies! However, if you’re tired of shoveling snow and dealing with the cold weather, maybe it’s time to consider obtaining a vacation home!

According to the Investment & Vacation Home Buyers 2018 Report by NAR:

“72% of vacation property owners and 71% of investment property owners believe now is a good time to buy.”

It’s time to take advantage of the equity in your home. As the latest Equity Report from ATTOM Data Solutions stated:

“Nearly 14.5 million U.S. properties (are) equity rich — where the combined estimated amount of loans secured by the property was 50 percent or less of the property’s estimated market value — up by more than 433,000 from a year ago to a new high as far back as data is available, Q4 2013.

The 14.5 million equity rich properties in Q3 2018 represented 25.7 percent of all properties with a mortgage.”

This means that over a quarter of Americans who have a mortgage would be able to use some of their home equity to make a significant down payment toward a vacation home, and many are doing just that! According to the same report by NAR:

“33% of vacation buyers purchased in a beach area, 21% purchased on a lakefront, and 15% purchased a vacation home in the country.”

Many homeowners who are close to retirement will use some of their equity to purchase vacation homes, which may eventually become their permanent homes post-retirement!

Bottom Line

If you are a homeowner looking to take advantage of your home equity by investing in a vacation home, let’s get together to discuss your options!

Need a reason to Sell this Winter? Here are 4!

by KCM

Some Highlights:
Buyer demand continues to outpace the supply of homes for sale which means that buyers are often competing with one another for the few listings that are available!
Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed to sustain a normal housing market.

Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

Buying a Home this Year? Here Comes the Inventory!

by KCM

Buying a Home this Year? Here Comes the Inventory!

The top reason homeowners cited for not listing their home for sale in 2018, was their belief that they would be unable to find a home to buy. After 3 years of declining inventory for sale, we’re finally starting to see more listings come to market! Let’s get together to chat about what this means for our market!

Happy New Year!

by Allison Simson & Chels Knor

Happy New Year!

Allison Simson, Owner/Broker, Summit Real Estate.

I love the New Year and the month of January!  So much good energy and positive change happening in the world.  If you own real estate, you may be wondering when or if you should sell.  Here are some good questions you could ask to help you decide....


Wondering When to Sell Your House? These 8 Questions Will Help

The decision to put your home up for sale is not inconsequential. It’s not like “what should we have for dinner tonight?” or using eeny, meeny, miny, moe to solve a kerfuffle with your kids.

Nope. It’s methodical, calculated, high stakes. Ask (and answer) these eight questions before you hammer that signpost into your front lawn.

1. Is it a buyer’s or seller’s market?
A seller’s market means there are more people looking to buy houses than there are houses available. Houses are selling fast and often for close to asking price.

A buyer’s market means there are a lot of houses on the market; in fact, there are more houses available than there are people to buy them. They’re sitting on the market longer and might not go for asking price.

The housing market ebbs and flows based on interest rates, employment, general economic health and a slew of other factors. If you’re selling your house, it behooves you to wait until it’s a seller’s market. 2018 was, for the most part, a seller’s market. When demand is high, sellers can ask for more. When demand is low, buyers hold the negotiating power. 2019 looks to continue to be a seller's market.

2. Do you have a good real estate agent?
Venturing into the world of selling your house is no small feat. Find and hire a qualified agent.

A top-selling agent will help you determine if it’s the right time to sell, as well as guide you through correct pricing, appropriate staging and strategic navigation of the market. According to HomeLight, sellers can make an average of $30,000 more on a single-family home sold by a top agent than average agents can. I have a great recomnendation for you, if you need a great real estate team!  ;-)

3. Do you have different space needs?
Whether you are expanding your family and need a few more bedrooms, or your teens have left for college and you’re settling into your very large and quiet house as empty nesters, a lifestyle change may spin your thoughts toward moving.

Here are several reasons you might consider a bigger (or smaller) place:

  • You have two or three four teens trying to get ready in one bathroom.
  • You need a home office.
  • Since the kids have moved out, you have an obnoxious number of guest rooms.
  • You need more parking.
  • You’re tired of heating a bunch of space you don’t need.
  • If downsizing is your goal, you can start de-cluttering even if you’re not sure of the timing of your move. Before you consider moving, understand the space you’re looking for. Do you need to be closer to work or family? What do you like about your current home space? What wouldn’t you want to go without in another house?

4. Can you afford to move?
If only moving were as easy as going to bed in your old house and waking up in your new one. All the cost of moving add up. Make sure you’ve considered the following (and crunched the numbers) first:

Security Deposit
You’ll have to pony up a security deposit if you’re moving into a rental.

Activating utilities entails fees. Outfitting your new place with water, gas, electric, cable and internet doesn’t come free.

Equity and Debt
If you bought your house before the crash and your home hasn’t fully recovered, selling may not be a good financial move. Consider what you’ll lose or gain by listing.

Physical Moving 
Whether you pay professional movers, snag a guy from a Craigslist ad or bribe your son and his friends to help with pizza and beer, you’ll have some tangible costs. Factor in packing supplies (boxes, tape, paper), a truck (if you’re renting) and of course, the time it will take.

Closing Costs
As the seller, you’re responsible for some or all of the closing costs. Better to know about them beforehand than after.

If you haven’t planned for any of the above, create a game plan before you take too many steps forward at once and fall on your face.

5. What’s your timeline?
If your kids just gave you grandkids, you might be in a hurry to sell and move their direction. Or if you just retired, spent the last six months traveling and now need to find a more permanent place than the Embassy Suites you’re set up in now, you might be in a bit of a hurry. Keep in mind, a strict timeline gives negotiating power to the buyer. The more flexible you can be, the more discerning you can be with your offers.

6. Is your neighborhood changing?
Times, they are a changin’. If you moved into your house 20 years ago, you may have seen your neighborhood in constant evolution. Here are a few things you should look into:

School Districts
A good school district may be a selling point if you’re area is appealing to families with young kids. Schools may have changed since your kids were enrolled. Where does your district place?

Business Development 
What new businesses have moved into your city? Are there jobs available close by? Does the light rail come close to your house?

Main Streets
Where in town are you located? Maybe your house used to be in the boonies when you moved in but now, thanks to urban development, you’re smack in the middle of downtown. Your house has turned into high-demand prime real estate!

What’s your neighborhood’s feel? A sense of community is important. Young families with kids want to live where other young families with kids live. Retirees may want to be closer to others their age with similar interests. The soul of a community lives and breathes … and changes as people move in and out.

7. Is it a good time of year to move?
It's winter here in the high country, and while it's true that summer is our busiest sales season here, people are here enjoying the ski slopes now, and many of them are looking for that perfect place that eluded them this past summer.  Temperature and sunshine are crucial elements in selling your home- but don't rule out the winter.  Buyers who are looking now are serious about it! 

8. Is your home in shape to sell?
If you’re in the middle of a bathroom renovation, potential buyers are going to turn around and walk out the door, and frankly they probably won’t come back when you’re finished.

If your home needs major repairs, do them before you put your house up for sale. Nobody wants to have to replace the roof or put in a new hot water or replumb a house they just purchased.

If you’ve already done major repairs:

Toss anything you don’t need or want. Put away anything personal. Clear off any flat surfaces you can. If you have the option to put something away, do it. My rule of thumb is to have no more than 2-3 items on any surface or wall. 

The baseboards, the ceiling fans, the base of the toilet — it all needs more than just the “someone’s stopping by in 10 minutes” clean sweep.

Set the table. Spring for a new doormat. Put out new towels in the bathrooms.

Watch Out for Red Flags
Determining the best time to sell and finding a good agent are the two most essential assets to selling your home. Pay attention to these other red flag questions so you do this process right.

In Short, Ask Yourself These 8 Questions to Figure Out When to Sell Your House
1. Is it a buyer or a seller’s market?
2. Do you have a good real estate agent?
3. Have your space needs changed?
4. Can you afford to move?
5. What’s your timeline?
6. Is your neighborhood changing?
7. Is it a good time of year to move?
8. Is your home in good shape to sell?

by Chels Knorr- Homelight

Please call, email or text if you'd like to discuss the potential of selling your Summit County property, or any property! We have an amazing network of the top Realtors in the country.  Let's chat! 

Silverthorne puts new regulations on short-term rentals

by Eli Pace- Summit Daily

Silverthorne became the latest Summit County government to enact tighter regulations on short-term rentals with town council approving a series of new rules Tuesday on second reading.

Included in them are occupancy caps and the requirement "a responsible agent" be able to address complaints within one hour 24/7, unless a complaint comes in between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., at which time the agent will have only 30 minutes to address the issue. Multiple failures to do so could result in an owner losing their licenses for two years.

The town is also creating a new licensing process that requires each rental to secure a unique business license, rather than allowing multiple properties to operate under a single license. Rentals will also have to post those license numbers in all their advertisements. According to the town, this helps identify properties that have not obtained the proper license and are not remitting the proper sales and lodging taxes back to the town.

There will also be new fees, ranging from $100-$300 based on the number of bedrooms inside the rental. The new fee structure isn't designed to make money, only cover the town's costs of administering the program, officials said.

Occupancy caps have been one major point of contention as individual governments across Summit County have sought to better regulate short-term rentals recently. Silverthorne hasn't shied away for them, opting to limit short-term rentals to two guests per bedroom plus two. That means a four-bedroom home can sleep at most 10 people. The number of bedrooms inside a rental will be determined by information on file at the Summit County Assessor's Office.

The towns and the county have working together closely as they each look to better regulate the booming industry in their jurisdictions. Together, they plan to set up a 24-hour countywide call center so people can phone in complaints about short-term rentals across the county. A designated "responsible agent" would then have to address those complaints within a specific timeframe or face penalties.

In many ways, Silverthorne's ordinance runs parallel to others already enacted or in currently the works across the county. However, Silverthorne is the only one so far to give agents a 30-minute window to address overnight complaints.

Other provisions speak to health and safety standards and potential inspections.

Like the listings seen on and, a short-term rental is defined by Silverthorne as any home — or any room inside a home — that's available for rent for a term of less than 30 consecutive days. According to town officials, hundreds are currently operating inside Silverthorne. The goal is to get all of them kicked over to the new licenses by the New Year.

How the Housing Market is Impacted by Natural Disasters

by KCM
How the Housing Market is Impacted by Natural Disasters

Just like most other things, natural disasters can impact the housing market and the value of your home. As prices have appreciated, it's important to make sure that you have the proper coverage for your home. Let's get together today to make sure you're properly insured!

23 Packing Tips for Moving When the Pressure’s On

by Marla Miller Homelight

The Buyers Are Coming! 23 Packing Tips for Moving When the Pressure’s On

There are a million things you’d rather be doing than packing right now. Basically, anything else. But when you sell your home, moving is no longer a matter of if but when, so it’s time to face the music.

According to the National Association of Realtors, homes only stayed on the market an average of 3 weeks in 2017. A deal can close in as quickly as 2 weeks if you get an offer from a cash buyer. And if you price your home right, it will sell fast, says Carrie Buckett, a military relocation specialist and top agent in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

If that doesn’t curb your procrastination, consider these real-life moving horror stories. Buckett’s seen contracts fall through because the buyers came to take possession, but the sellers couldn’t get their stuff out in time. She’s also had seller clients who showed up at closing half-asleep because they were up all night moving.

“Don’t wait until the last minute,” she says. “If you think it will take one day, it’s going to take two.”

Before you look around the house and panic, take a deep breath. We’ve talked to expert real estate agents, plus organization and packing pros to gather the top packing tips to speed up and smooth out your move day.


Line up the help you’ll need

1. Start by assembling a dream team

If you find yourself on a tight timeline, the first thing you can do is call in the troops.

Many hands make light work, and you’ll need all the help you can get! Pitch it to your relatives and buddies as an excuse to get together. Make it fun by hosting a purge and packing day where you supply the pizza and beer.

Put on a “packing playlist” (you can find one on Spotify) to create a light atmosphere.

Before your helpers arrive, get organized by planning out who will do what, or you’ll waste everyone’s time. Find out how many hours each person can dedicate and divvy up tasks accordingly.

Do enough prep so that you can put Sally on assembling boxes, Joe on spackling the nail holes, Sam on bubble wrapping your glassware, and on down the line.

They’ll be glad to help if they aren’t standing around waiting for instructions.

2. Find out what your moving company will do for you on the packing front

Hiring professional movers?

Ask if their service package includes wrapping all of your furniture in plastic, including dressers, nightstands, and end tables.

That allows you to keep your clothing and personal items tucked away in furniture drawers and move it all together as is, reducing your box count and packing burden.

Many moving companies will also provide and use their own furniture blankets to protect your big bulky items, meaning you can cross expensive padding off your supplies list.

3. Hire a senior move manager to help you organize and declutter

Senior Move Managers are like the fairy godmothers of downsizing who can swoop in, whip your home into shape, and help you tackle daunting moves faster than you can say “bippity boppity boo.”

While your real estate agent handles marketing your home and the specifics of the transaction, Senior Move Managers are your friends in sorting, organizing, packing, decluttering and more.

We know you need great professionals in your corner to tackle your move, so when you find your top-performing real estate agent through HomeLight, we’ll cover your first 5 hours with a Senior Move Manager up to $200.


Purge before you pack to lighten your moving load

4. Sort items into 3 distinct piles: sell, donate, and toss

If you’re in a rush, you might be tempted to start throwing miscellaneous items into boxes. But you can actually save time with a focus on simplifying and paring down before you pack.

“Don’t do your donating, purging and downsizing on the day of the move,” says Terri Albert, who owns The Chicago Organizer and assists with general organizing, paper management and clutter-free living. “It’s too chaotic. It’s very costly to move. Don’t pay to move something that all you’re going to do is get rid of it on the other end.”

Buckett and Albert agree that it’s never too early to start planning for a move. Wise sellers realize less is more when it comes to showing a home and start decluttering months in advance.

If your home is on the market, it makes sense to pack what you can and rent a storage shed.

So where to start? Do a quick scan of every room and look for obvious items to purge.

Closets, countertops, cabinets, bookshelves and garages can easily become catch-alls, so go through these spaces with a discerning eye and be honest—is this item important enough to pack and haul it to your new place? Even if your move is still weeks away, a mindset shift toward early preparation will save you from wasting time down the line.

Albert suggests asking three questions during the purge process for each item:

  • Do I need it?
  • Do I use it?
  • Do I love it?

If the answer is no to all three, then it’s time to put it in one of your piles: sell, donate, or toss.

Items you should try to sell

  • You can make money on clothes and accessories in good condition (especially anything designer) by posting them on apps like Poshmark or eBay.
  • Furniture that won’t fit into your new place. Post your La-Z-Boys and platform bed frames for sale on Craigslist, click on “post to classifieds” in the upper lefthand corner of your city’s homepage (start here to find your local Craigslist site).

Worthy items for the donation pile

  • Through your real estate agent, communicate with the buyers of your home about any items you’d rather leave behind and see if they’d have any use for them. If you’re moving from a house to an apartment where maintenance will be handled for you, you’ll no longer need your wheelbarrow, gardening tools or hedge trimmer. Remember, you can’t leave a single item behind when you move unless the buyers have confirmed they’d like to keep it.
  • Got a stockpile of travel size shampoos, lotions and soaps from various trips? Find a local men’s or women’s shelter and take extra toiletry items there.

Toss these things! And never look back

  • Expired food! If your refrigerator door filled with half-used bottles of condiments or your deep freezer overflowing with frozen veggies and bread? Pitch anything that’s almost gone, looks old, freezer burned or close to expiring: ketchup, mayo, jellies, pickles, soy sauce, and salad dressings.
  • Same goes for clutter—old magazines, junk mail, cards and coupons, old magnets, chipped dishes and glasses, ripped linens or towels, expired cosmetics, old medications and lotions, clothes and shoes in poor condition, and excess holiday decorations.


5. Host a pre-move party for family and friends

As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Before you send perfectly good items to the landfill, Albert recommends hosting a pre-move party and invite friends, family and neighbors over to go through your unwanted goods.

Remember your dream team—the ones helping you pack?

Repay the favor and give them your half-used liquor bottles, cleaning supplies and perishable fridge items.

As Albert notes, it’s much cheaper and easier to restock once you’re settled into your new home than hassle with moving those items.

It’s also a great time to send your grown children home with any lingering momentos from high school or college.

Who knows what’s hiding in the garage, attic or basement—Barbies, hockey skates, an antique Radio Flyer wagon? Give them first dibs to grab anything sentimental from childhood—or anything they might want to pass on to their own children.

If you’re ready to downsize, consider giving away family photos, heirlooms, furniture or other personal belongings to the people you want to have them.

As estate lawyers will tell you, this avoids hurt feelings and family feuds, or the possibility of it ending up in the wrong hands or an estate sale, in the event of an unexpected illness or death.

“Why not have your family members enjoy your china and all your other items so you can see them in action?” Albert says.

6. Hold a quick weekend sale for the final purge

Live on a busy street? Have lots of large or valuable items to off-load? People still enjoy stopping at good old-fashioned garage sales. Some of the top sellers include:

  • Larger, quality items such as furniture and appliances
  • Power tools and sporting equipment
  • Lawn care and gardening items, home building supplies
  • Electronics, office equipment
  • Good used toys and bicycles
  • Items for kids, toddlers and babies
  • Kitchenware, CDs/DVDs, household goods
  • Used clothes priced cheap tools (typically under $1)

If there’s no time for that, post unwanted items on Craigslist, letgo, local Facebook garage sale groups and Facebook marketplace.

ThredUP, the world’s largest online secondhand shopping resource, is also a great place to sell quality used clothes and accessories.


Stock up on all your essential supplies in one fell swoop

7. Create a moving timeline and take a home inventory

Whether you write one out by hand or download one from the internet, a simple home inventory checklist can help keep you on track in the weeks leading up to your move.

Start by taking a home inventory, and creating a timeline. There are many printable templates and Moving Guides available on Pinterest or make your own Excel spreadsheet.

Another option is a digital home inventory app like Allstate’s Digital Locker.

8. Calculate how many boxes you’ll need ahead of time

Boxes, boxes, boxes—they are a necessity when planning for any big move. But there are so many variables when it comes to how many boxes you will need: how much stuff you have, how many containers you already own, and how much you plan to purge or pitch.

Save yourself from extra trips while you’re in a smooth packing rhythm by estimating your box needs up front.

Home Depot offers this handy moving calculator to help estimate how many boxes you need per room.


9. Do a quick scavenger hunt for free boxes

Luckily, there are a variety of ways to collect boxes for free that won’t add much time to your packing process.

  • Someone in your neighborhood may have recently moved. Post an ad on Craigslist or Nextdoor asking for free boxes.
  • Visit grocery, liquor, office-supply and discount stores and ask for boxes. Make sure boxes have lids and are clean, dry and still in good shape.
  • If you’re doing a DIY move and renting a moving truck, check with the company about special box programs. U-Haul offers Take a Box, Leave a Box, a 100% buyback guarantee and a Box Exchange program for customers.

You can always buy boxes from your moving company, a shipping-supply store and even retailers such as The Home Depot and Walmart. If you want to skip the store, and buy them at a discount, order them online through sites such as,,, and

Check with your moving company on any box requirements or restrictions before you collect a bunch of boxes you can’t use.

10. Get creative with other “boxes” at your fingertips

Using storage items—plastic totes, recyclable grocery bags, storage containers, sturdy baskets—around your house can cut down on your box expenses.

Make use of hampers and laundry baskets by filling them with:

  • Sheets
  • Towels
  • Linens
  • Bedding
  • Pillows

Use your suitcases and overnight bags for:

  • Clothes
  • Scarves
  • Belts and accessories

Empty and clean out your trash cans and use them to move:

  • Bathroom and kitchen cleaning supplies
  • Garbage bags
  • Rubber gloves
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels


11. Use boxes that are the right size, strength and material for what you’re packing

Use small, sturdy boxes—think copy paper boxes—or those with built-in handles for heavier items such as books and dishes. They hold up and are easy to lift, stack and move.

Here are some other good rules of thumb:

  • Wardrobe boxes work best for hanging garments. Measure the number of linear feet of hanging clothing to calculate the quantity you’ll need.
  • Use boxes with preassembled partitions to protect glassware.
  • For books and dishware, boxes larger than 12 inches square can be difficult to lift when full.
  • You can purchase specialty boxes for large items such as flat-screen TVS, mirrors, artwork, instruments, mattresses and lamps.

Save larger boxes for light items, and use medium boxes for everything in between. Heavier items should be placed at the bottom, lighter ones on top. Same goes for stacking them when it’s time to move.

If you’re doing the move yourself, you want to be realistic about what you can lift and carry, Albert says. Most moving companies won’t move heavy items in large boxes or those without covers. There are different grades of box strength, so don’t risk packing breakables, dishes or small appliances in the least expensive boxes.

12. Stock up on all your essential moving supplies in one fell swoop

Get everything you need with a moving supplies checklist:

  • Bubble wrap for wrapping breakable items. It’s more affordable to buy it in large rolls and cut sheets as you need them.
  • Brown packing paper, available from packing-supply companies, to stuff boxes and wrap fragile items before packing them. Avoid newsprint because it can leave ink stains and all your dishes will need rewashed.
  • Labels for identifying boxes. You can buy blank self-adhesive labels at most office supply or shipping stores, or find printable packing labels online. Or use permanent marker to write directly on the boxes.
  • Large trash bags—get extra!
  • Pens and a notepad for making notes; brightly colored sticky notes for leaving notes to yourself or the moving crew on what stays and goes (curtain rods, special light fixtures, appliances included in the sale), any special instructions or getting organized early in the packing process.
  • Small sealable plastic bags for keeping small items, screws and brackets together.
  • Stretch wrap for securing doors and drawers. It sticks to itself, leaving no residue behind.
  • Standard packing tape, strapping tape for reinforcing the bottoms of heavy boxes, and clear plastic mailing tape to affix labels (it also makes them waterproof).
  • Box cutters and scissors

13. Protect valuable items even when you’re in a rush

You should always pack and carefully handle valuables like jewelry, coins, special china, family heirlooms, and important paperwork, even when you’re on a tight timeline.

Bubble wrap works well for protecting breakable or fragile items.

If there is a particular item you’re worried about, and you have room in your vehicle, it’s wise to transport it yourself.


Let the real packing begin

14. Stay organized with a consistent labeling system

Label each box and what room it goes in and stack them near the door or an empty wall, but out of the way until move day.

  • Use a marker, typed labels or a color-coded labeling system—whatever is easiest for you and the movers to see and remember.
  • Label each box with your name, its general contents, “Fragile” if contents are breakable, and which room each box belongs in.
  • Assigning color codes to label and corresponding rooms or family members can make unpacking quicker.
  • Refer to your inventory checklist and keep track of how many boxes you have for each room.

Briefly list the contents of each box on the box or make an inventory list. This reduces confusion for movers and simplifies the unloading/unpacking process.

“The more organized you are to pack, the more organized you will be on the unpack and you’ll save yourself so much on the back end,” Albert says.

15. Create a packing station to combat the chaos

Designate one room in your house for packing—the guest room or an empty corner of your living room, for example.

Collect boxes in various sizes, packing tape, markers, and supplies like newspaper and bubble wrap, and keep these items contained to your packing station.

Label and stack full boxes in this space as you go. This way, you won’t be tripping over boxes all over your house, and you’ll always know where to find those Sharpies.

16. Pack non-essential items first

Begin by packing nonessentials, seasonal items, or anything you don’t regularly use or need for a few weeks:

  • Art on the walls
  • Clothes and shoes that are out of season
  • Holiday decorations
  • Dishes for special occasions


17. Break up your packing into manageable chunks

Pack one room at a time if possible. Albert says to pack like items from the same room in the same box. Don’t gather items from various rooms and put them in the same box; it’s too confusing and wastes time on the unpack.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you look around and see everything that needs packed. Start with a closet, the bathroom or living room knick-knacks and books. You’ll feel excited when you see an empty wall or closet.

“It’s time-consuming and it’s a stressful time in anyone’s life so do it in smaller chunks, a couple of boxes a night,” she says.

18. Don’t lose track of the little things

When disassembling furniture, put the screws and hardware in a plastic bag. Label each bag and designate one box for hardware for curtains, furniture, special light fixtures and wall decor.

To keep loose items organized, wrap the entire container or storage bin in plastic wrap and place it in a box.

  • Silverware
  • Mini blinds
  • Snacks
  • Jewelry
  • Bathroom toiletries
  • Desk supplies

Pro packing tip: Martha Stewart’s moving checklist recommends having area rugs, and drapery if you plan to take it, professionally cleaned before your move. Rugs will return from the cleaners rolled, wrapped, and ready for transport.

19. Snap a picture of the back of your TV and electronic setups

You’ll want to know how (and where!) to plug everything in, and it will save set-up time at your new home.

If you saved the boxes for TVs, office equipment, even counter appliances such as coffeemakers and stand mixers, good job. Pack these items back in their original packaging.


20. Plan for the first few days in your new place

Just as it takes several weeks of preparation for a move, it’s going to take the same amount of time to settle into your new home—unless you want to hire a professional to come in and help put things away. They can bring in a team and have your home put together in a day or two.

It helps to have necessities and essentials ready and easy to find-your pillows, your laptop, your favorite yoga pants and snacks.

Typically, these are the items you packed up last, and either loaded last or hauled with you. Label these boxes and totes so they’ll be the first off the truck and put them in a spot that’s out of the way but easy to access.

21. Assemble an overnight bag for moving day essentials

Gather important electronics, toiletries, clothes and medication.

Designate a special box or tote for things you’ll need first at your new home and transport that in your vehicle:

  • Soap/hand sanitizer
  • Change of clothes for every person
  • Bed sheets and pillows/air mattress
  • Phone, charger, cable cords
  • Towels
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Snacks
  • Cleaning supplies, trash bags
  • Basic household tool kit
  • Disposable plates, glasses and cutlery
  • Flashlight, batteries and lightbulbs
  • Toys for children and pets
  • Pet items—food, food dishes, leash, treats, crate, and other essentials


Take Care of Business Even in The Chaos

22. Use a binder to keep track of important documents

Make a special file for critical personal documents or put them in your safe/fireproof box and keep that with you during the move:

  • Birth certificates
  • Passports
  • Medical records
  • Vet records
  • School records
  • Credit cards not in your wallet
  • Banking and insurance information

23. Spread the word about your new address

Notify all utility companies of your move several weeks in advance and schedule shut off and start dates at your old and new residence. Change your address on important accounts and subscriptions.

  • Employer and children’s school
  • Banks, credit cards, loan holders
  • Magazine and newspaper
  • Insurance companies
  • Doctor’s offices
  • Gas, electric and water companies
  • TV/internet and phone companies

Packing doesn’t have to be dreadful, but it’s usually a hectic and stressful time for most people. If you’re too tired, busy or physically not able to move, Albert suggests outsourcing what you can. And planning in advance as much as possible.

All the headaches will be worth it. You’ll be enjoying your new home in no time!

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Contact Information

Photo of Summit Real Estate Real Estate
Summit Real Estate
The Bright Choice
330 Dillon Ridge Way, Suite 10
Dillon CO 80435
Fax: 970-468-2195

Allison Simson, Owner/Broker, is a licensed Colorado Real Estate Broker