HOW MARCH MADNESS CAN HELP YOU FIND THE PERFECT HOME

Fri, 24 Feb by realtyexecutivesnw

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Every year during March Madness we’re completely engrossed in the NCAA’s giant 63-game basketball tournament, analyzing every piece of data to make sure our final picks are perfect. But how can we apply this data-driven thinking to house hunting and perfect both picking a bracket and finding a home?

Here are five things to consider:

1. Beware of Cinderella story teams

There are always Cinderella stories in the rush of March Madness, but typically lower ranking teams don’t beat top seeded teams in the tournament. The same could go for home prices that seem too good to be true. A slight fixer upper in a nice neighborhood could end up being the perfect home long-term, while a home that’s two-thirds of the market value could be in desperate need of renovation. And on average, renovations take longer and cost more than most homeowners expect, so what looks like a good deal could end up costing you more.

2. Top seeded teams are like great neighborhoods

If it seems like the same teams compete every year, it’s because they do. Kansas has been in the tournament 27 consecutive times, Duke 21 times, and Michigan 19 times. Good teams don’t rise to the top because they’re lucky, they work hard and a great deal of investment goes into them. The same can be said for great neighborhoods – popular zip codes are always in-demand because they offer the best combination of amenities and accessibility, although there are always up and coming areas of town.

3. Data is a helpful guide

Despite having access to statistics like adjusted defensive efficiency and points per possession to help narrow down the field, crafting the perfect bracket is difficult. It’s important to do the proper homework before selecting a dream team – or a dream home. Taking advantage of tools like mortgage calculators to determine how much home you can afford will put you in a better position when it comes to strategic decision-making.

4. Don’t always choose the home team just because it’s familiar

Analysts at Bracket Voodoo say that “homer bias” or selecting your alma mater purely for sentimental reasons is a common error. The same goes for homes. Nostalgia and familiarity may attract you to certain locales, but don’t count out up-and-coming neighborhoods during your home search. Think of Oakland, California or Brooklyn, New York, neighborhoods whose reputations have changed; concentrate your search in the hot neighborhoods of the future.

5. Generally, follow that gut instinct

According to The Book of Odds, “You are 18 times more likely to be killed by a waterspout than to forecast an entire 63-game tournament accurately.” So, after all the data mining and online research is done, remember that your gut feeling is there for a reason. Whether it’s the fact that a certain team always folds under pressure, or that the undeveloped lot next to that well-priced dream neighborhood could be developed into something less than desirable, it’s never a bad idea to listen to your gut instinct, even if the data says otherwise.

WHO DO WORK WITH WHEN BUYING OR SELLING YOUR HOME?

Fri, 17 Feb by realtyexecutivesnw

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What’s the difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR®? Or a buyer’s agent and a listing agent? Having a glossary of real estate professionals to refer to as you navigate the home buying or selling process should come in handy.

Here’s a list of professionals that you’re likely to encounter:

Appraiser

An appraiser or assessor provides an objective estimated value of a piece of land or property, based on computations performed on market statistics and area information. Professional real estate appraisers are usually certified or licensed, and are typically required for transactions that are being financed.

Attorney

A lawyer with specialized knowledge of the industry who is trained to help facilitate real estate transactions, including the buying, selling or leasing of property, land or natural resources. Real estate lawyers ensure that the letter and spirit of the law is followed, protecting the rights of their clients, while being held to the strictest ethical standards. Lawyers are not legally required in all states or provinces, with escrow officers often being used during closing instead. However, in cases with unusual terms or stipulations, seeking legal advice is recommended.

Buyer’s agent

A real estate agent who represents buyers when they purchase a home, both advocating for and guiding them through the homebuying process. Exclusive buyer’s agents do not accept sellers’ listings.

How much personal information do you need to reveal when buying a home?

Home inspector

Home inspectors perform safety and functional inspections of homes (and other pieces of real estate) to determine their condition and document any issues or areas in need of repair. Home inspectors are usually certified by governing bodies such as the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, with technical requirements differing by region.

Home stager

Professional home stagers help prepare homes for sale, editing them to accentuate their appeal and possibilities when viewed by potential buyers. Home stagers also assist with the exterior appearance of homes to enhance curb-appeal.

Listing agent

Sometimes referred to as seller’s agents, these real estate agents represent the seller during the homebuying process.

Loan officer

Loan officers serve as intermediaries between creditors and borrowers, evaluating and recommending loan applications for approval. They are also referred to as mortgage loan originators.

Real estate agent

Licensed real estate professionals who represent buyers and/or sellers during real estate transactions.

Real estate broker

Licensed real estate professionals who have pursued education beyond the agent level, obtaining a broker’s license that allows them to operate a brokerage or real estate firm.

Real estate associate broker

Real estate broker who works for or under another broker.

REALTOR®

Real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® or the Canadian Real Estate Association. These professional associations require REALTORS® to adhere to a strict code of standards and ethics, on which their membership is dependent.

Seller’s agent

Sometimes referred to as buyer’s agents, these real estate agents represent buyers during the homebuying process.

Title company representative

Review titles to pieces of real estate to ensure that they are legitimate and fit for transfer. Title representatives also issue title insurance once the title is found to be valid.

Find more real estate terms: Easy as A, B, C

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THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO SELL YOUR HOME

Fri, 10 Feb by realtyexecutivesnw

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Selecting the best time to sell your home could be the difference between taking a loss and getting the highest return on your investment. But when is the best time to list your home?

When the weather is nice

According to a study by Zillow, May is the best time for sellers in the U.S. to list their homes. Market research indicates that homes listed between May 1-15 sell 18.5 days faster than average listings, also selling for 1% more, which translates into an extra $1,700.

“The reason is because inventory being so tight, a lot of homebuyers are having to put in multiple offers. That is extending the length of the homebuying season, such that a lot of times later on in the season people are more eager to buy the house because they have been frustrated with earlier offers, and they are paying a little bit more money,” says Zillow Group’s Chief Economist Stan Humphries.

Experts also suggest that more people go out to shop for homes when the weather is nice, starting in spring and continuing through the summer, which also allows them to take advantage of school holidays and vacations in an effort to minimize disruption to their lives.

What about Canada?

In Canada, spring heading into mid-fall is considered the best-selling season for similar reasons to those listed above. Shoppers want to get moved and settled before the school season, and fair weather with longer days and daylight is optimal for showings.

“It’s also usually easier to get your home ready for sale at this time of year — from painting inside or out, to the simple ability to keep the house cleaner without the winter muck being traipsed throughout every time someone walks through the front door,” notes Sarah Daniels, co-host of TV show Urban Suburban.

However, she adds that properties like townhomes and condominiums sell well throughout the year because they are typically snapped up by first-time homeowners or buyers who don’t have children.

“Often these buyers are not faced with the constraints of school catchments, and are much more interested in amenities like underground parking, recreation facilities and the nearest coffee shop. These buyers are happy to shop at any time of year, so sales will often be a bit steadier throughout,” says Daniels.

Reasons to sell during the “off-season”

Buyers shopping for homes during this time of the year are more motivated to close the deal.

“House hunters shopping in the fourth quarter tend to be more serious buyers. Some are relocating and have to move at a set time. Some are renters, who are considering their options and think they might find better prices in the winter,” says Cindy Ariosa, chairman of Rockville-based multiple listing service MRIS.

And since most sellers list their homes during the warmer months for the convenience of it, sellers who opt for late fall and winter are likely to have less competition.

Furthermore, other than shoveling snow and light maintenance, you won’t have to toil over your garden during this dormant period the way you would need to during the summer.

Optimal listing times may vary based on local housing market dynamics, your circumstances, and the sellable features and condition of your home. Consult your real estate agent for the most accurate analysis and advice on when to list your home.

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16 THINGS A REAL ESTATE AGENT CAN DO FOR YOU

Fri, 27 Jan by realtyexecutivesnw

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Curious about what real estate agents actually do and how they can help you buy or sell a home? Here’s a brief look at how they can help you through a real estate transaction:

1.Provide advice, expertise and industry knowledge in order to better help you reach a       decision.

 

For buyers:

2.Help you understand the different housing options available and provide you with available   listings that meet your requirements within your desired areas.
3.Help you analyze market data as you comb through your options, also recommending inspections and requests for additional information as needed.
4.Help you understand the different types of loans and buyer assistance programs available through the city, county, state, government or via private companies. And connect you to the right lender based on your needs.
5.Guide you through the offer process to ensure that you are protected and your consumer rights upheld.
6.Help coordinate communications between all parties, including sellers and seller’s agent, lender and any other professionals enlisted during transaction.

For sellers:

7.Help you get your home ready for sale, enlisting the services of a home stager if necessary. And arranging for professional photographs of your home for the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database and all marketing materials.
8.List your home and ensure that all pieces of information are correctly entered into the MLS database and other real estate platforms.
9.Market your home both online and offline, handling requests for information as they come in.
10.Arranging and hosting open houses for prospective buyers.
11.Collecting offers and walking you through the fine print, pointing out any potential issues and answering any questions that may come up.

For both buyers and sellers

12.Be your advocate and present your special interests during closing and at the negotiation table.
13.Tap into their professional network to connect you to home maintenance and improvement service providers who best meet your needs.
14.Provide you with information on your local neighborhood association or HOA.
15.Provide you with area information and local secrets, such as where to get the best pizza in the neighborhood.
16.Continue to offer advice once the transaction is complete, referring you to other housing or real estate professionals should the need arise.

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HOW TO REMOVE PET ALLERGENS FROM YOUR NEW HOME

Fri, 20 Jan by realtyexecutivesnw

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You’ve found the home of your dreams, the paperwork is signed and the keys are in hand. What do you do if your new home was once shared with a four-legged friend that you or one of your family members are allergic to? Read on for tips and ideas to help everyone in your household breathe a little easier.

Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner

While bacteria, dust mites and pet dander are most often found in furniture and beds that get moved out of the home before new owners arrive, carpeting is often a haven for allergens that even thorough cleaning can leave behind. Using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter can bring relief by removing irritants from carpeting.

Install washable window treatments

Window shades and washable drapes are also a better choice for allergy sufferers, compared to long drapes and blinds that can collect dust and are more difficult to clean, according to WebMD.

Invest in new flooring

Bare floors are the best bet if you want to reduce pet allergens in your home. “Animal allergens are sticky. So you must remove the animal’s favorite furniture, remove wall-to-wall carpet and scrub the walls and woodwork,” reports the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Consider replacing old carpeting with hardwood floors or tile.

Get your air ducts professionally cleaned

Although there is no scientific evidence to support claims that air duct cleanings improve air quality, the system components of forced air systems can become contaminated with dust, pollen and other allergens. “It is surprising how much garbage you can find in your ducts,” says allergist and immunologist Julie McNairn, MD.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency you should consider a duct cleaning if your ducts are clogged with debris and contaminants, which are then released into your home. However, the EPA also notes that service providers could further contaminate your system if they don’t clean all of the components properly, so enlisting the help of qualified professionals is key. The EPA also suggests asking your service provider about any chemical treatments that they plan to use before they do so because these practices are not backed by data.

Food for thought

Moving into a new environment can trigger allergic reactions that you’ve never experienced before. For example, horse allergies affect nearly 4% of all people with allergies. Horse dander is often found hundreds of yards away from the source, which means you don’t necessarily have to own horse property yourself to be affected. Be sure to thoroughly research and explore potential neighborhoods and to ask about area allergens before closing the deal on your new house.

If you or a family member begin experiencing symptoms in a new city or environment, check in with your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. “It is important to work with your doctor to learn what triggers your allergies and determine the best treatments for you to enjoy your life unencumbered by allergies,” says Dr. Cary Sennett, AAFA’s president and CEO.

Selling your home? How to stage your bathroom

Sat, 07 Jan by realtyexecutivesnw

screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-2-36-27-pmWhen selling your home, each room needs to be presented in its best light—even (or maybe especially) the bathroom. Bathroom remodels can be costly, but there are a few easy tricks you can do to turn a ho-hum bath into one that will have potential buyers anxious to move in.

I have a client who knows her bathroom needs freshening up, but doesn’t know how to do so without starting over. Since replacing the vanity wasn’t in her budget, I recommended a few low-cost solutions:

Give it a face lift with a coat of paint

After removing the old knobs, I cleaned the cabinet doors with a liquid sander and deglosser product. It helps new paint adhere to old finishes and is easier than sanding. Of course, if the finish was rough or chipped, then sandpaper would have been necessary.

I chose a two-in-one paint and primer with a stain blocker. Since she’s selling her home, we picked a shade of white that coordinates with the vinyl floor. White cabinetry is not only currently on trend, but it’s fresh, bright and appealing to buyers.

To make the vanity front look like one piece, I painted the wall section and trim at the bottom the same color. That way, the first impression is one long, white vanity.

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Replace the door hardware

New door hardware is a fast and inexpensive update. Even if you don’t change the finish, swap out the old knobs for new ones. I found pearlized, octagonal pulls that almost replicate the paint color.

Declutter the room

Careful staging of a home helps sell it quickly. Pack away all the clutter, excess accessories and personal items, as you want the buyer to picture their furniture and furnishing in the rooms. Clearing things out also makes rooms and surfaces appear bigger. I packed up my client’s bathroom decor and purchased a few new bath accessories. Now the countertop looks huge!

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As an interior designer, I always encourage my clients to redecorate and remodel while they are living in their home. You might as well enjoy the effort, money spent and the results. The best solution to a tired, old bathroom is to replace the vanity and countertop with something brand new. If that’s not possible, paint works wonders!

 

This guest post was written by Merri Cvetan, a Wisconsin interior designer who enjoys incorporating her crafting skills on decor projects. Merri writes on both design and crafting for Home Depot.

How to avoid winter home maintenance issues

Sat, 10 Dec by realtyexecutivesnw

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Cold weather can wreak havoc on your home. According to the Insurance Information Institute, losses from winter weather average around $1.2 billion a year in the U.S. The best way to avoid problems caused by winter weather and precipitation is to prevent them before they happen. Here are five common problems that occur and some tips on how to prevent them:

1. Roof leaks and ice dams

Small gaps between roofing materials can turn into big problems in the winter when extreme temperatures cause expansion and contraction. To prevent an ice dam from forming, the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine recommend making sure any gaps in the roof or attic that allow hot air to escape from your home are tightly sealed and closed. During warmer weather, look out for water staining, loose shingles, missing caulk, or nails that extend into an attic space. Cleaning your gutters and breaking up piles of ice that begin to form on your roof will also help prevent ice dams. Call a handyman or add these tasks to your to-do list to save yourself from major headaches later.

2. Frozen pipes

When the pipes freeze in poorly insulated areas of your home, the resulting leak can cost thousands of dollars to fix. California Water Service indicates that approximately 250,000 homes suffer severe damage due to frozen pipes that burst and cause damage to floors, walls, and furniture. To prevent frozen pipes, Consumer Reports recommends keeping your heat set to at least 55 degrees, even when you’re not at home. And if you’ll be out of town for an extended period of time, protect vulnerable pipes by adding insulation, opening cabinet doors, or turning off your water.

3. Mold

In winter, mold can grow near improperly insulated vents in bathrooms, laundry rooms, or exterior walls, causing damage to drywall and ceilings. The Center for Disease Control and Inspection suggests using a dehumidifier in problem areas of your house, as well as removing carpeting from any areas that are damp or humid. Inspecting your home for signs of mold can address any air flow problems before they become an issue.

4. Chimney problems

When temperatures are cold outside, creosote begins to form inside your chimney. The Chimney Safety Institute of America says creosote is formed when smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles, hydrocarbon, tar fog, and assorted minerals leave the fireplace and flow up into the cold chimney. Creosote is extremely flammable and without proper chimney maintenance, your home could be at risk of a chimney fire. Examine the exterior of your chimney for any cracks, warping, or discoloration from smoke before winter arrives. Also, get your chimney inspected and repaired regularly to avoid sparking a fire that could destroy your home.

5. Falling trees

Strong winds, heavy ice and snow can cause branches to fall during winter storms. Trees that tend to fall due to ice and snow storms include willow, white pine and some varieties of maple. Experts recommend trimming overhanging branches that could damage your home if they fall. Bracing tree trunks with cables attached to stakes around the tree is another common solution.

This guest post was written by ABODO, the easiest way to find your next apartment. Offering the freshest apartment listings for rent every day to make your search easy.

House hunting with teens: What to put on your “must-have” list

Fri, 18 Nov by realtyexecutivesnw

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Working with families as a professional organizer, I’ve learned that needs are different for a family with teens. With little ones, you want a bedroom close by your own room and a big yard where they can run and play. With older kids, your shopping list becomes an interesting combination. You want and need space to be together and interact. And at the same time, your teen needs space to be alone and to grow.

Here are some different factors to consider if you’re house hunting with teens or soon-to-be teens.

Eating

Eating often becomes a 24-hour-a-day sport with teens in the house. It’s hard to keep teens filled up, and it’s not just the boys. Teen girls raid the refrigerator as well. Accompanied by several friends, they really can eat you out of house and home.

As your family ages, their consumption of food will increase. Unless you want to go to the store every other day, you need increased food storage. A second refrigerator becomes extremely useful. Not many houses will accommodate a second fridge in the kitchen, but as you house hunt, see if you can find a convenient location for an extra one. That might be in the laundry room, the garage, the basement or, as was the case with one house that I owned, the under-the-stairs closet. If a refrigerator figures centrally in your home, you can research many family-friendly styles online.

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The laundry cycle never seems to be complete. The more kids grow, the bigger the clothes and the fewer items that fit in a load. Couple this with increased sports and extracurricular activities, and there are mountains of laundry to do each week.

When house hunting, keep in mind your growing laundry needs. Having a highly functioning laundry room with space to sort, fold and hang becomes very important. A laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms can really save steps and time.

Our space vs. their space

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You’ll still want a place where the whole family can gather for movies and family time. But as your tweens turn to teens, you may find you both like a little separation. The gang may be over for video games or movies with plenty of giggles and yelling. You might want to read a book or binge-watch your favorite show. As everyone grows more independent with their own interests, having a second living space is a good idea. This way you can separate activities as needed, but come together for family time.

Different hours, different schedules

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When you had a small baby or young child, you wanted to be able to hear them. You looked for a home with a nursery right next to your own room. Even with the child just across the hall, you’d break out the baby monitor and plug it in.

With tweens and teens, you may not want to hear them quite as much. Even if you swore to never yell “turn that music down!” it might happen. Especially on the weekends with no school the next day, energetic teens can stay up much later than their parents listening to music, watching movies and chatting endlessly on the phone. It’s all in good fun, but if your body clock is on more of a 10:00 PM bedtime schedule, you may wish you’d chosen a house with a split bedroom plan. As you house hunt, consider if having your bedroom somewhat separated from the teens might be a good idea.

No reservations needed

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If you are lucky, your home will need a revolving door. Groups of teens will come in and go out, and it is a good thing: it means your children’s friends love to come to your home. The bonus is you see your own child more often, get to know their friends and form special friendships with them.

Wherever there are teens, there is bound to be food. No matter your family size, look for a home with space for extra seating at the kitchen table or around the kitchen island.

Plan a parking lot

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One change families find as their kids grow into teens is a continual car shuffling. Your teen driver needs a place to park. If she chooses to park behind mom, inevitably mom is going to be the one who needs to get out of the driveway first. Or, if you are sharing a car, there will always be someone who needs to go somewhere and the car is gone. If you have a teen, you’ll most likely have multiple cars. In addition to your own child, there will be friends popping in and out, and some of them will have cars too.

As you house hunt, consider parking. Where will you put the extra cars? Check to see if there are any neighborhood restrictions on the number of vehicles allowed, or any no-parking signs posted that might become a problem down the road.

Even though your teens are just a few years from heading out the door and living on their own at college or an apartment, you still want a new house to feel like a home to them. Ask them if there are any particulars that are high on their interest list. Keep in mind that house hunting is a great time for a discussion on finances, budgeting and even future plans.

This guest post was written by professional organizational expert Lea Schneider. Lea provides families with advice on how good planning in the home can help boost the enjoyment level for everyone. Lea writes tips on homes and family life for The Home Depot.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

To decorate or not to decorate: Selling your home during the holidays

Fri, 28 Oct by realtyexecutivesnw

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The housing market doesn’t come to a standstill during the holidays, and several real estate experts have found that buyers shopping for homes during this time are more motivated and deadline-driven.

“Homebuyers who shop during the off season, and in particular around the holidays, are typically very serious about getting into a house,” says Sharon Voss, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

Buyers may be looking to relocate for new jobs before the start of the new year, or they may want to close a deal before the end of the tax year. Whatever the case may be, should you put the holidays on hold for you and your family, or go ahead and decorate your home?

Why you should decorate

According to Blake Miller, “You don’t have to pretend the holidays don’t exist if your home is on the market this time of year.”

Decorating your house will allow you and your family to celebrate the season while also offering any potential buyers a festive experience, and helping them to envision how the home will look dressed up for any occasion. “Houses show better when decorated for the holidays,” adds real estate coach Mike Ferry.

And in neighborhoods where most of the homes are dressed up, your home will give the added impression of unity and neighborliness.

However, if you do plan to decorate your home, home-staging experts suggest doing so conservatively and with the following tips in mind:

-Keep it secular to avoid putting off potential homebuyers of different religions
-Stick to neutral colors and decorations that complement your current décor
-Keep it simple – decorations could give your home a cluttered appearance, and pose as safety or tripping hazards
-Avoid decorations that block or hide important features of your home
-For security reasons, don’t leave any gifts under your Christmas tree during showings

Find out how to decorate your home on a budget

Why you shouldn’t decorate

Holiday decorations could negatively affect your home’s appeal, whether it’s because they make your house seem small and cramped, or because they’re too much of a distraction for buyers who are trying to envision themselves in the home, some experts caution sellers to consider the implications of decorating before they do so.

“While it is impossible to define what would be inoffensive to every person in every market around the country, sellers should be mindful of who their potential buyers are and how their home and its decorations show,” says real estate expert and author Brendone Desimone.

Other reasons cited for skipping seasonal decorations include:

-Religious décor could alienate potential buyers
-Protecting your privacy, since personalized decorations and Christmas cards could reveal private details about your life
-The appearance of untidiness caused by real Christmas trees shedding nettles, in addition to blocking off the part of the house where they are placed

If you do decide to put up some decorations, be sure to have professional photos of your home taken prior to doing so. This way buyers will also have a good idea of what your home looks like under normal circumstances.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS TO HELP YOUR CHILD ADJUST TO MOVING

Fri, 21 Oct by realtyexecutivesnw

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According to child psychologists, children can experience moving as a type of loss. “A child loses friends, a home, and her early childhood program, the losses often resulting in feelings of sadness and anxiety or even anger,” says professor Marian Marion, Ph.D.

Equipping children with coping skills and teaching them how to manage the stress of moving could help ease their sadness and anxiety, particularly if these lessons are delivered in a relatable form, like a children’s story.

Here are eight children’s books to help your child adjust to moving. Click on each book cover to learn more about each story.

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Moving to a new home is one of the most stress-inducing experiences that a family can face, but turning it into an adventure can help ease some of the tension. What are some strategies that you have used to help adjust to a new home?

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Grande Prairie Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.