Should you schedule a pest and termite inspection? 5 reasons you should – Redfin

Whether you’re an aspiring first-time homebuyer and about to make your first offer or you have just purchased your second or third home, you’re probably excited to enjoy your new space. But wait, is that a little critter by the backdoor? Maybe it’s just an ant… nothing to worry about, right? Just to be sure there aren’t any other pests lurking about your new house, you might want to consider getting a pest and termite inspection. Here are five reasons you should schedule a termite and pest inspection before any unwanted visitors wreak havoc on your dream home.



Why should you get a pest and termite inspection?

As a new homeowner, it’s always a good idea to cover all your bases and have a pest and termite inspection performed. Homes in more humid climates – think homes in Miami, FL or houses in Houston, TX – are more susceptible to termite infestations due to the increased moisture in the surrounding environment. If you’ve seen any signs of a termite infestation, it might be a good idea to have a termite inspection. These signs can include buckling floorboards, creaky floors, or damaged wood.

For those still in the homebuying process, if you see signs of termite damage in the house, you should consider adding a termite contingency when making an offer on a home. A termite contingency may give you the option to back out of the sale if there’s been significant damage found. Otherwise, you can try to negotiate with the seller to pay for the repairs. 

What if you’re planning on just getting a regular home inspection? Your home inspector likely won’t look for specific types of pest or termite damage. However, if your home inspector does find damage, contacting a pest or termite inspector should be your next step. A pest or termite control specialist can help you determine what the best course of action is, likely scheduling an inspection to determine the extent of the damage.

Is a pest and termite inspection required before closing on a home?

If you’ve already purchased your home, then you didn’t miss out on any required inspections. For most homebuyers, termite and pest inspections are not required before closing on a home. However, certain types of loans such as FHA and VA loans may require you to pay for a pest inspection before your mortgage approval, so it’s best to check with your mortgage lender or real estate agent. Your real estate agent will also know if your particular state or county requires a pest inspection before purchasing a home.



5 benefits of having a termite or pest inspection

There are several benefits of having your home inspected for termites or pests.

1) Negotiating power. If the home you’re looking to buy ends up having damage from termites or pests, you’ll likely have better negotiating power. Your real estate agent can help you decide what negotiations to make. These negotiations may include asking the seller to reduce the price so you can pay for pest control services or asking the seller to pay for any repairs or fumigation services before you close on the home.

2) Peace of mind. These inspections will be able to tell you if there’s any structural damage from pests or termites. Your inspector will disclose any issues they find. Then you’ll have an idea of what kind of maintenance you might need as the home’s future owner. 

3) Save money. Moving into a new home can feel like the dream, but it’s always a good idea to know what you’re getting yourself into. Without a pest or termite inspection, you may be foregoing a critical type of home inspection that may end up costing you more money down the road if a problem is left untreated.

4) Prepare for future expenses. If your pest or termite inspector finds certain types of pests in the home you’ll have a better idea of what to look out for as a homeowner. That way, you will know if your new home or the area you’ve moved to is susceptible to specific pests. It will also help you to plan ahead for any costs associated with keeping these pests away.

5) Find a local pest control company. Say your home is more susceptible to termites because you’re buying a house in a more humid area, or that spiders or mice are more common in your county. The good news is you’ve found a local pest control company to help you schedule regular maintenance. You’ll know just who to call for help if any critters start appearing in your house.

What to expect during a pest inspection

The inspection will take roughly 30 minutes but can vary based on the size of the home and whether there’s a basement, crawl space, or any extra areas. The inspector will examine the interior and exterior of the home for any signs of damage, infestation, or specific areas that might be more susceptible to pests. They’ll check for any signs of moisture. Damaged wood or buckled paint indicate the presence of wood-destroying insects like termites. They are more likely to be found in these areas vulnerable areas.

The inspector will check for a variety of different bugs such as carpenter ants, fleas, mosquitos, and moths, among others. Where you are located may also play a role in the types of pests your inspector will look for. Some pests are more likely to be found in certain areas or are local to your region. If these types of local pests are found during the inspection, your pest inspector may recommend regular pest control to keep these critters at bay. 


Smart Living: The Latest Smart Home Tech to Add to Your Home

Living in a smart house used to only exist in sci-fi movies. Fast forward to today and connected homes and smart gadgets are quickly becoming the norm. Smart home tech has transformed every aspect of home life, from security and basic kitchen tasks to how a house is built. It’s making our lives more comfortable, economical, convenient, and safe.

If you haven’t upgraded your home with the latest tech there are many ways to start. If your needs are relatively simple, there are affordable options that can bring about convenience, however, if you want to go all out you can create a fully connected and modern space. So, check out the latest top smart home tech products that you can add to your home today.

Smart Home Living Room

Smart Home Living Room

Voice Technology

Voice assistants

“Hey Alexa, play my workout playlist.” While voice assistants have been around since the early 2010s, it has taken us a while to get comfortable talking to devices. Today’s most popular commands include asking voice assistants to play music, answer a question, turn on the lights, provide the weather, and set reminders, alarms, and timers. As artificial intelligence (AI) advances, virtual assistants will become more personalized towards individuals. New features such as voice detection can recognize who is talking and create a unique, tailored experience, like calling you by a nickname or providing music recommendations that fit your style. 

Smart Home Tech on a shelf

Smart Home Tech on a shelf

Home Security 

Video doorbells, cameras, and alarm systems 

We have all heard stories about porch pirates stealing packages. One of the biggest smart home tech trends is investing in video doorbells, security cameras, and alarm systems. Grouped together, a standardized smart home security system may be one of the best investments you can make to protect your family and your home. Video doorbells and home security cameras now have live views and voice capabilities that allow users to see and speak to people at the door from virtually anywhere. Motion sensors can detect and record activity that can trigger an alarm or phone notification and alert authorities. Installing these can provide that added sense of security knowing that your home is being monitored 24/7. 

Fingerprint and facial recognition door locks

Installing fingerprint or facial recognition locks can change your life, especially if you always misplace your spare key. Biometric technology and Bluetooth have already made their way into phones and tablets, but they are now starting to become more common in door locks. With just a glance or fingerprint scan, a lock can recognize a person by targeting facial features or fingerprint patterns to detect whether they are welcome or not. Not at home or lost your key? This technology can also be synced with a phone app or Bluetooth so that owners can remotely lock and unlock a door at the touch of a button. 

Indoor drones

Imagine your own personal security guard patrolling the halls while you are not at home. While this might not be common today, drone innovation has made strides within the home security space. Unlike traditional video cameras, drones provide better ground activity and can cover more areas. While you are away, automated drone technology will fly inside your home monitoring different rooms and areas. Take it a step further, users can create map paths for the drone to follow.

New Smart Door Lock Tech

New Smart Door Lock Tech

Sustainable Smart Home Tech

Solar panels 

Using solar panels for on-site energy generation has become a popular alternative to traditional electricity, especially in cities that get a lot of sun year-round like Miami, FL. Now, architects and designers are finding unique ways to incorporate solar panels into the design of a home, not just on the roof. Solar panels can be used in different ways that can save homeowners hundreds of dollars per month such as heating water, providing energy, and charging electric vehicles. They are also likely to enhance your home’s value, and depending on where you live, you can even earn tax credits and rebates.

Living plant walls

Plants are a fun way to bring color and life into your home. Living walls also known as green walls, can be a great way to style plain backdrops to create a striking focal point in your home. Besides design, living walls serve multiple sustainability purposes. They can be used to improve air quality as a natural air pollutant filter, serve as a noise buffer, and create added insulation during the winter months. Living walls can also be configured to filter out water from sinks, showers, and appliances. Water is redirected to the top of the wall, filters and irrigates plants, and is treated for reuse, creating the ultimate smart home tech piece for the environment. 

Solar Panels on Roof of Home

Solar Panels on Roof of Home

Home Fixtures

Human-centric lighting 

Light bulbs are a great entry-point into smart home tech. Connected to a smart device, lightbulbs can help you look like you are home when on vacation, change colors based on mood, save on energy consumption, and conveniently turn off all the lights with a single voice command. Using smart home lights throughout your house can also drastically upgrade the look and feel of a room or outdoor space. Consider adding smart light bulbs to your kitchen, bedrooms, and even driveway to adjust hue and brightness based on what you might be feeling.

Programmable thermostats 

Many people are not aware of how much a thermostat impacts the household budget. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling costs accounts for half of the average home utility bill. Smart thermostats seek to tackle this problem. Within one week of installation, smart thermostats can learn schedules to modify temperatures based on household activities. They can also track daily and monthly usage to get a sense of where heat and air are being directed to and adjust temperatures accordingly based on the season. 

Smart Home Thermostat Tech

Smart Home Thermostat Tech

In the Kitchen 

Kitchen appliances

For those who love to cook, consider adding smart appliances into your kitchen. Modern-day fridges can take phone calls, link to television, save energy, and provide recipes. However, new fridge tech has not stopped there. If you are out and about at the grocery store and want to check what needs to be replaced, some fridges allow you to access built-in cameras via your smartphone to see what’s inside your fridge no matter where you may be. Smart ovens are also starting to incorporate phone connectivity. People can preheat their oven on the way home, adjust timers remotely, and have notifications sent via text message when food is done cooking.

Kitchen counters and workspaces

Ditch the granite countertops and go with a smart work surface. One of the latest technologies in kitchen countertops includes a sink that can disappear and reappear with a single wave of the hand. Smart home tech also seeks to tackle problems such as food consumption. Kitchen scales are being embedded into the stone that can allow sensors to measure and weigh ingredients. With the data, a mobile app can provide curated recipes with the goal of preparing delicious meals without food waste.

Smart Home Kitchen

Smart Home Kitchen

Spa Bathrooms

Smart showers & chromatherapy bathtubs

The perfect shower concert just got easier. A fun way to spruce up your bathroom time is by installing a Bluetooth speaker showerhead. These speakers easily connect to your phone to blast your favorite tunes while taking a shower. For something more sophisticated, showers are starting to double as steam rooms by trapping vaporous steam to elicit pore opening moisture. If you’re looking to relax after a long day at work, Chromatherapy, or color therapy bathtubs, can help put your mind and body at ease by using colored lights to elicit feelings. 

Touchless toilets and digital bidets

The toilet is one of the most germ-ridden locations in your home. Highly advanced toilets seek to keep things clean and comfortable by integrating features such as self-opening and closing lids, heated seats, deodorizing systems, and temperature-controlled water. For freshening up, digital bidets also can be automated for hands-free operation. Two self-sterilizing nozzles spray gently aerated spritzes of water which can be adjusted for temperature, pressure, and spray width. They even come with an air dryer and deodorizer. 

Smart Home Tech Bathroom

Smart Home Tech Bathroom

Making a Smart Home Gym

Touchscreen fitness mirrors

Smart home tech is bringing the gym to you. Touchscreen, wall-mounted fitness mirrors are the latest craze in home gym technology. If you are missing the instruction and motivation of an in-person trainer, simply turn on the screen and let an AI trainer provide guided workouts and fitness programs that fit your liking. New tech also includes virtual spotters, sensors to monitor every rep, and measuring your progress in real-time. Remote group training has also become more popular, and groups can virtually work out together from the comfort of their home while still keeping the workout, music, and atmosphere people love about a local gym.

Workout equipment

If curating your workout is your thing, there are many products to help you keep track of your fitness goals. Smart dumbbells and kettlebells can automatically change weights up to 42lbs and track reps from the touch of a button. These are perfect for smaller home gym owners looking to get in simple workouts such as shoulder presses and deadlifts. Punching bags with smart technology are a great way to blow off some steam. These punching bags come equipped with trackers that you wrap around your hand to track punch speed and the number of punches via an app. This is perfect for the person who loves a quick and specific workout. Stationary Bikes are a great way to get in that much-needed cardio, the newest technology offers pre-recorded classes that sync to the mechanics of the bike to automatically adjust resistance and incline as well as the ability to sync to smartwatches. 

Gym Equipment

Gym Equipment

Redfin is not affiliated with nor endorses or guarantees any of the products or services mentioned.


Agents expect more bidding wars throughout 2021

With housing inventories low and home values rising by double-digits over the past year, sellers are holding firm on the price they demand.

A recent survey by the real estate agent referral firm HomeLight has found that 52% of agents believe the biggest challenge sellers will face in 2021 is the temptation to overprice their homes due to the red hot market we’re in.

Home sellers are firmly in the driving seat amid rising prices and low inventory, and 15% of real estate pros surveyed by HomeLight said they were worried that bidding wars in 2021 will lead to more offers on homes that are above their appraised values.

Bidding wars have become commonplace in many markets. In December, almost half of Redfin’s agents reported that they’ve faced multiple bidders when submitting offers for their clients.

“The housing market is unseasonably hot. It’s behaving like it normally does in the spring, with plenty of demand from home buyers,” Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist, said last week. “Typically, the vast majority of homes for sale in December are homes that have been sitting on the market because they’re overpriced or there’s a problem with the property. This December, with so many Americans moving, scores of desirable homes hit the market—but not enough to satisfy insatiable demand from homebuyers. The result? Fierce bidding wars.”

Redfin’s survey highlights that bidding wars are most prevalent in the Salt Lake City metro area, with 75.6% of all offers its agents submitted facing competition from other bidders. San Diego came second with 74.5%, followed by San Francisco/San Jose at 67.4%, Seattle at 65.3% and Denver at 58.4%.

Additionally, HomeLight’s survey found that the biggest challenge for home buyers in 2021 will be the lack of housing options due to low inventory, and the inability to find a home they like, cited by 51.4% of all agents. Almost 19% of agents said they were also concerned their clients might lose out on multiple homes this year due to higher bids, and 11% said their clients will struggle to find an affordable home this year.


Palm Springs’ House of Tomorrow, an Elvis Presley hideaway, sells for $2.6 million

One of the most striking homes in Palm Springs has finally sold. All it took was six years of relists and price cuts that saw the original $9.5-million tag slowly whittled down to the final sale price of $2.6 million.

Known as the House of Tomorrow, the futuristic dwelling in Vista Las Palmas not only stands out as one of the most stylish Midcenturies in a city filled with them, but it also holds a special place in rock ‘n’ roll history. The home is where Elvis and Priscilla Presley went after their secretive wedding in 1967, and listing photos show a portrait of the couple adorning one of the stone-clad walls.

Built by Midcentury architect William Krisel, the innovative digs serve as a time capsule of the 1960s. Floating fireplaces, rock walls and terrazzo floors adorn the interior, which is made up of four circular wings that total 5,000 square feet.


It’s pretty much entirely in touch with its original style today, with rounded walls of glass and a dramatic, eye-catching roofline. Floating stone spheres ascend to the massive double-door entry.

One of the main highlights inside is the sunken living room, which features a ring of clerestory windows and a floating fireplace hanging from the ceiling in the center. Built-in seating wraps around the room.

Other spaces include a chandelier-topped dining area and kitchen with a circular center island. Five bedrooms and five bathrooms complete the floor plan. Outside, lawns and landscaping add some color to the private backyard, which is anchored by a swimming pool vaguely shaped like a chevron.

Scott Histed of Bennion Deville Homes held the listing. Marc Sanders of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty represented the buyer.


573: Facebook Ad Mistakes That Ruin Real Estate Agents’ ROI with Evans Putman

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Hours of Work Needed to Pay Rent in the 10 Largest Cities

Hours of Work Needed to Pay Rent in the 25 Largest Cities – 2021 Edition

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According to the Census Bureau, almost 20 million renters allocate at least 30% of their household income towards rent, indicating that they are housing cost-burdened. This can be especially true in larger cities where the cost of living is higher. And if time is money, then many Americans will have to resort to working longer hours to make ends meet without having to use up any existing emergency funds.

In this study, SmartAsset measured the hours of work needed to pay rent in the 25 largest cities in the U.S. To determine our estimates, we considered data on the following metrics: average annual take-home pay, average hours worked per year and median monthly rent. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s fourth annual study on the hours of work needed to pay rent. Check out the 2020 version here.

Key Findings

  • 56.6 hours. The average number of work hours needed to pay rent across the largest 25 U.S. cities is 56.6. In the six cities at the top of our list, renters must work at least 6% longer to pay rent alone. It takes more than 60 hours of work in all six cities to cover average rental costs.
  • California cities stay at the very top, but Los Angeles drops for the first time in recent years. In every version of this study since 2018, the three cities where the average worker needs to work the most to pay rent have been as follows: San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego, California – in that order. In this year’s study, however, San Diego jumps to the No. 2 spot and Los Angeles drops to No. 3.

 1. San Jose, CA

In San Jose, California, it takes more than 76 hours of work on average to pay median monthly rent, which is $2,223 or almost $26,700 per year. The median worker earns $41,419 after taxes, with an estimated hourly wage of about $29.

2. San Diego, CA

The average annual take-home pay in San Diego, California is $34,157, or an hourly wage of less than $25. According to our estimates, the average worker in this city would need to work almost 74 hours to be able to pay a month’s rent, which is $1,806.

 3. Los Angeles, CA

In Los Angeles, California, the average worker needs to clock almost 73 hours to cover median monthly rent, which is $1,554. The average number of hours worked in the city is about 38 hours per week, which means that it would take this person almost two weeks to cover that total amount of time. The average worker in Los Angeles earns $34,669 before taxes and takes home about $28,815 – or a little more than $21 per hour.

4. Boston, MA

In Boston, Massachusetts, the average worker earns $35,800 after taxes, or about $25 an hour. The median monthly rent in Boston is $1,735, which means residents there will have to work more than 69 hours to pay for a month’s rent. At an average of about 38 hours worked per week in Boston, it would take nearly 13 days for a worker to cover this amount.

5. New York, NY

New York City has the fifth-highest number of hours needed to pay rent across the 25 largest cities in this study. With a median monthly rent in the city of $1,483, a worker person would have to work 62.0 hours to cover rent. The average worker in New York earns $42,326 and takes home $32,608 after taxes, or $23.90 per hour.

6. San Francisco, CA

In San Francisco, California the median monthly rent is $1,959. This is the second-highest monthly rent amount across all 25 cities in our study, following only San Jose, California. The average worker in the city earns about $32 per hour, or $51,548 after taxes. This means that the worker would have to work 61.2 hours to cover rental costs. At an average of 40.2 hours worked per week in San Francisco, it would take this worker about a week and a half to do so.

7. Denver, CO

In order to cover the costs of the average rental apartment or home in Denver, Colorado, the average worker would need to work almost 60 hours. The median monthly rent in Denver is $1,433. The average worker in Denver earns $47,146 before taxes, with a take-home pay of $37,922 or $23.92 an hour.

8. Nashville, TN

The median monthly rent in Nashville, Tennessee is $1,191 or $14,292 per year. With the average worker there earning $31,889 after taxes or $20.77 per hour, it would take him or her approximately 57 hours of work to cover the cost of rent each month.

9. Austin, TX

The average worker in Austin, Texas earns $42,416 and takes home $35,739 or $23.34 per hour. Monthly rent costs in Austin reach $1,334 per month, or $16,008 per year. At that rate, it would take this worker more than 57 hours to cover rental costs.

10. Charlotte, NC

Median earnings for a worker in Charlotte, North Carolina are $38,528. This worker would take home $31,118 or $20.61 an hour. Charlotte has the lowest median monthly rent across the 10 cities on this list, at $1,174, resulting in a total annual rent of $14,088. To be able to pay for a month’s rent in Charlotte, the average worker would have to work 57 hours.

Data and Methodology

To find out how many hours of work are needed to pay rent in the 25 largest cities in the U.S., we looked at data on the following three metrics:

  • Average annual take-home pay. This is the average worker’s earnings after accounting for income taxes. To find out how much each worker would pay in income taxes, we ran median worker’s earnings data through our income tax calculator. We assumed the average worker would contribute nothing to an IRA or 401(k), take the standard deduction and file as a single filer. Earnings data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Average hours worked per year. This is the number of weeks worked per year multiplied by the number of hours worked per week. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Median monthly rent. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.

First, we found the average hourly wage for each worker by dividing average annual take-home pay by average hours worked per year. Then we divided the monthly median monthly rent by the average hourly wage. This resulted in the average hours of work needed to pay a month’s rent. Finally, we ordered the cities from highest to lowest based on the average number of hours needed to pay rent.

Tips for Managing Your Savings

  • How much are you really taking home? When budgeting how much to allocate to needs, wants and savings, it’s important to know how much you’re actually starting with. Use SmartAsset’s paycheck calculator to find out your post-tax earnings.
  • Budgeting is key. If the cost of living in an area is high and moving is not an option, consider using our online budget tool to make sure your expenses are all covered.
  • 401(k) matching. Taking advantage of a 401(k) employer match program is an ideal way to build your retirement savings faster. When considering a new job always review the retirement plan offerings to be sure that it’s the right one for your needs.
  • Expert financial advice. You already work hard to make ends meet, so why put in any more hours than you need to in order to get expert help with your assets? Finding the right financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact

Photo credit: ©

Nadia Ahmad, CEPF® Nadia Ahmad is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). Her interest in taxes and grammar makes writing about personal finance a perfect fit! Nadia has spent ten years working as a seasonal income tax assistant, researching federal, state and local tax code and assisting in preparing tax returns. Nadia has a degree in English and American Literature from New York University and has served as an instructor/facilitator for a variety of writing workshops in the NYC area.
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Everything You Need to Know About Relocating With a Portable Moving Container

Portable moving and storage containers are growing in popularity as a convenient way to move. Instead of loading boxes and furniture into a moving truck, many people are opting to pack all their items in a portable moving container and ship it to their new home. With moving being as stressful as it is, a portable moving container can help relieve some of the anxiety.

The beauty of portable moving containers is their versatility. In a traditional move, you’re on a tight schedule; but if you choose to rent a portable container, you can pack it at your own convenience and take as long as you need.

“If you’re presented with a scenario where your lease is ending before your next place is ready, moving containers are an ingenious solution,” says Mike Glanz, co-founder and CEO of Oceanside, CA–based HireAHelper, which also has a Move Helpers division that loads and unloads moving trucks and containers.

“Many moving container companies offer multiple sizes and terms to their boxes, so this moving option is likely to fit your personal move,” he says. And, since most companies will transport the containers for you, Glanz says the experience is quite similar to a full-service move, especially if you also hire movers.

How to rent a moving container

You need to find companies that serve the locations you’re moving to and from.

Glanz says the American Moving & Storage Association can help you find a ProMover, aka a certified moving company that has passed a background check and agrees to uphold the organization’s code of ethics. Glanz recommends looking at major companies that serve your area, but also checking to see if a smaller competitor is available for a better price.

When choosing a company, he says, you need to figure out what’s important to you, be it moving dates, the sturdiness of the boxes, prices, discounts, user reviews, or something else. Individual company profiles are also on the site, and Glanz says that info is based on reported invoices and reviews from people who have used the companies.

After you decide what you want, you can book online or by phone.

The process of using a portable storage container goes a little like this: You book the container, it gets dropped off to you to fill, and then the container is taken to the location of your choice. But there are a few additional wrinkles.

“You need to make sure your drop-off and pick-up locations are cleared with your street, homeowners association, or the city, depending on where you live,” Glanz says.

How much do portable moving containers cost?

The price you’ll pay for a container is based on a number of factors, including the size of the container, the distance you need it shipped, and how long you’ll be renting it. Do your homework and reach out to a number of portable moving container companies for quotes based on your specific needs.

But to give you a frame of reference, the cost of renting a portable container from PODS, a moving storage company that rents and ships containers, is usually between $299 and $499. According to PODS, a long-distance move averages $1,237 to $2,999 and includes a month of storage.

Tips for packing a moving container

Believe it or not, there’s a right way to pack a portable container that will ensure your belongings will still be in good shape when you unpack them. The first step is to distribute the weight evenly.

“It’s tempting to place all of your heavy things in the unit first, but spread out the furniture, appliances, and other large items in the container so all the weight isn’t on one side, says Nathan Chandler, CEO of Zippy Shell Louisiana, a moving and storage company in New Orleans. “Use fabric pads for wooden furniture that could easily get scratched, and make sure to place boxes with fragile items on top of heavier, more durable objects.”

You should also put your important items in the front of the storage container.

“When moving, it’s easy to focus only on getting your things out of your old house and not on what you’ll do when you arrive at your new home,” Chandler says. But you’ll want to have access to your essential items like plates, mattresses, linens, and clothes first.

And when it comes to family heirlooms and important documents, he says it’s best to keep them with you, if possible.

“Although portable storage containers are secure and durable, there’s always a chance that something could get damaged,” Chandler says. “These objects are safer with you during your move.”


Will Claiming Survivors Benefits Hurt My Social Security Later?

Senior man
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Welcome to our “Social Security Q&A” series. You ask a question about Social Security, and a guest expert answers it.

You can learn how to ask a question of your own below. And if you would like a personalized report detailing your optimal Social Security claiming strategy, click here. Check it out: It could result in receiving thousands of dollars more in benefits over your lifetime!

Today’s question comes from Jeff:

“I am 58 years old. My wife passed away a year and a half ago. We were married for 34 years.
I retired from teaching last May. If I claim a Social Security survivors benefit on her record at 60, will that affect my Social Security retirement benefit when I am ready to take mine? Given my birth year, my full retirement age (FRA) is 67. I am hoping to delay claiming my own retirement benefits until age 70.”

When should you claim survivors benefits?

Jeff, I have good news for you. You can indeed claim widow(er)s benefits — one type of survivors benefit — as early as age 60 without having any negative effect on your retirement benefits. Alternatively, you can claim your retirement benefits as early as age 62 without having any negative effect on your widow(er)s benefits.

Keep in mind that claiming widow(er)s benefits at age 60 involves a steep early claiming penalty of 28.5%. Nevertheless, it is often worthwhile to accept that penalty and claim at age 60 (assuming you will switch to retirement benefits later on).

Jeff, you do have the option of claiming retirement benefits first. So, which benefit should you claim first? The answer partly depends on the earnings test, which we will ignore for the moment. (In Jeff’s case, he retired at age 58, so the earnings test is irrelevant.)

In many instances, the answer is obvious: If retirement benefits are significantly larger (say, at FRA) than the widow(er)s benefits, then claiming widow(er)s benefits at age 60 makes good financial sense. The next move would be to switch to retirement benefits at age 70 or thereabouts.

Alternatively, if widow(er)s benefits clearly dominated retirement benefits at one’s FRA, then the best move would be to claim retirement benefits at age 62, and then switch to widow(er)s benefits at FRA. That is because widow(er)s benefits reach a maximum at FRA.

As widow(er)s benefits (at FRA) grow closer to retirement benefits (at FRA), the choice of which benefit to start first becomes more complicated. I do not see any easy rule-of-thumb that can deal with cases of this sort. One really needs to do some careful calculations or turn to some inexpensive professional advice to reach a reliable conclusion.

Finally, for those who continue to work past age 60, the earnings test will play a role. For 2021, earnings above $18,960 result in a $1 reduction in benefits for every $2 in earnings (a higher limit applies for the months leading up to one’s FRA).

So, anyone with significant earnings will find their benefits reduced substantially, perhaps to zero. This fact further complicates the decision about the timing of claiming benefits.

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About me

I hold a doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin and taught economics at the University of Delaware for many years.

In 2009, I co-founded, an internet company that provides advice on Social Security claiming decisions. You can learn more about that by clicking here.

Disclaimer: We strive to provide accurate information with regard to the subject matter covered. It is offered with the understanding that we are not offering legal, accounting, investment or other professional advice or services, and that the SSA alone makes all final determinations on your eligibility for benefits and the benefit amounts. Our advice on claiming strategies does not comprise a comprehensive financial plan. You should consult with your financial adviser regarding your individual situation.

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