Janis Peterson, GRI, ABR, CSP Realtor®
Philadelphia Main Line Homes and Real Estate
Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties
Relocation Specialist
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Subject: If There's No Room At the Inn, Try Storage

Homeowners A are having a new home built, but must move into smaller temporary housing that won't hold all of their possessions. Homeowners B are renovating their formal living room and need somewhere to put the contents of the room. Homeowners C want to create a spacious look for their home while it is on the market. To do that, they must store many of their belongings, but don't have space in their attic. Homeowners D use their two-car garage to keep seasonal items, but really would like to use the space to store both vehicles instead.

Each of these homeowners has a similar problem—lack of space. Self-storage is a solution that allows you to keep and access personal belongings that you don't have the room for in your home.

Renting storage space is a pretty simple process, especially when you plan ahead. Here are helpful tips for choosing a facility and protecting your property:

Shop around to find the facility that best meets your needs such as storage size, price, accessibility and security.

When shopping for a storage facility, you will need to know what size unit is required to hold your possessions. Typically you can choose a space from as small as 5'x5', which is the size of a small closet and holds between 10-15 boxes, to 10' x 25', which is about the size of a single-car garage. The facility's representative can help decide what is the best size for you.

You also want to make sure that your items will be secure. Ask questions such as: Is there a guard on duty? Video surveillance? Alarms? Do you need to provide your own lock? Is the area well lit?

In addition, don't assume that the facility, or your homeowner's or renters insurance, covers your belongings in case of theft or damage. Most storage centers assume no responsibility for your items, so talk with your insurance provider.

You also want to have reasonable access to your belongings. Find out the facility's hours of operation and the name of a contact person.

Before signing any agreement, inspect the facility and your storage unit for cleanliness and signs of proper maintenance. Is the area well sealed from rain, snow or humidity?

Make certain that you understand the rental agreement and get a copy of the contract. Are you renting on a month-to-month or a six-month basis? Is there a deposit? Does termination of the agreement need to be in writing? How much advance notice do you have to give?

Before moving your possessions to the storage unit, take actions to protect them from damage or theft. While packing, label boxes on each side by numbers rather than content. Make a master inventory list so that you know what is in each box, as well as furniture and other unpacked items. Don't use newspaper as packing paper because it may smudge off on your items.

Prepare your unit by placing plastic on the floor. If you will be moving in large furniture lay down blankets or sheets as well. Then store your most valuable possession first toward the back. Store frequently used items at the front. Make sure that you leave a walkway so you can access your belongings. In addition, leave a small space between the objects and the storage unit's walls.

No matter what the reason, using an off-site storage unit is a good solution for your short-term space challenge. By making sure that you understand the terms of your agreement and that your belongings are secure, it will be a pleasant experience.

"Real Service in Real Estate." For a personal consultation on buying or selling real estate, Janis Peterson, GRI, ABR, CSP Realtor® can be reached at (610) 642-3744, e-mail: jp4re@pahomes.com. Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors® is an independently owned and operated member of The Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc.

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