Moving is an exciting and inspiring project, but its many details and tasks can also be a tad overwhelming. One of the smartest things you can do during this transition to safeguard your future and protect your investment is to conduct a home inventory.
It seems like a big task, but it can be done more easily than you think, and the benefits far outweigh the effort.
Benefits of a Home Inventory
The benefits of inventorying are many, but we’ll lay out a few things it can do.
1) It gets you more accurate quotes from movers.
Moving provides the perfect opportunity to sort through all of your belongings to separate the “keepers” from the “giving aways.” Hiring professional movers is not cheap.
Determining exactly what is going with you in advance of your mover walk-through saves you time and money because your estimate is based on a room-by-room, attic-to-basement survey of items that you’re relocating.
2) It determines how much homeowners or renters insurance coverage you need.
Your homeowners insurance policy covers the costs of replacing personal items (furniture, electronics, clothing) in your home that are damaged or stolen. Your casualty loss might be the result of a fire, hail, wind, or other natural disaster.
Having a current home inventory helps you determine the value of your home’s contents so you know exactly how much insurance you’ll need if you had to replace these valuables.
3) It helps you remember what you own when you’re stressed.
Most of us don’t have sharp mental recall when faced with a disaster, so a comprehensive and up-to-date inventory ensures that you have one less thing to think about when you’re knee-deep in stress.
You can mitigate the chaos and help your insurance adjuster expedite your claim.
4) It speeds up the claims filing process.
When you file a casualty claim, the insurance company requires that you document the worth of your damaged items.
Your home inventory can act as a reference document for your insurance adjuster that contains all the essential information.
5) It verifies losses for the IRS.
If you sustain losses from natural or man-made disasters, the IRS may offer some help. Sudden, unexpected, or unusual events that result in “damage, destruction or loss of property” may qualify you for itemized deductions that reduce your taxable income.
Good records are essential. If your loss is part of a presidentially declared disaster area that sustained damage by flood, earthquake, hurricane, or tornado, you’ll have even more benefits available to you.
The Best Way to Inventory Your Home
Since you’re already boxing and sorting, combining your inventory with a move is perfect timing. You can do it as you pack up your old home, or as you unpack in your new one.
You’ll need a smartphone, a digital or disposable camera, or video capability to visually document your possessions. You might create a customized spreadsheet or opt for a simple notebook in which to record the information. You could also use an app to help you organize, track, and export your belongings.
Tackle the big stuff like furniture and appliances by going room to room, photographing your belongings, and logging them into your database. The smaller boxed items can be inventoried as you’re packing or unpacking them. For each item, document the following:
- A detailed description, along with the serial number, manufacturer, and model
- The approximate date and price of the original purchase, the location where you bought it, and any receipts you retained as proof
- The approximate current value of the item
What to Do Now That You’ve Completed Your Inventory
Safeguard it! If you the inventory is on paper, make several copies and keep one in a fireproof safe at home or in a safe deposit box.
Type up or scan your physical copies and save your inventory to the cloud.
If you did your inventory online, be sure it’s accessible from more than one computer, and protect it with a cloud storage service.
Going Forward in Your New Home
Resolve to save all of your receipts for new purchases. Be vigilant about updating your inventory after each new addition, and you’ll enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that if a disaster does strike, you’re steps ahead in the recovery process because you took a few hours now to prepare.