Tips for Hiring a Moving Company

It is easy to get wrapped up in all the details of selling your home that you forget to plan for moving out! Don’t let this catch you off guard, particularly if you are selling in the peak months of April to August, or you may have a hard time finding a moving company. There are several options for moving based on distance and amount of labor you want to put forth.

Weeks before moving day, check your home owner’s insurance policy to see what is covered during a move. Many home owner’s policies may be limited and force you to take out the insurance policy offered by the moving company or 3rd party insurer, like Baker International.

Start contacting moving companies, if needed, at least six weeks ahead of your move. The spring and summer season are peak times, with peak rates, that fill up quickly. Read up on the rules and requirements for moving companies. Companies that provide interstate moving are required to follow federal regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This prevents certain types of trucks from being used and ensures the truck can be tracked via GPS while in transit. In-state moves rules are less strict and vary.

The first decision point is whether you are going to move yourself, hire a load/unload crew or a moving company. Any moving decision should be evaluated on distance, costs, time, and level of difficulty. In my experience, it is worth paying for a moving company for local and long-distance moves. Unless you are built like Dwayne Johnson, aka the Rock, schlepping awkward and heavy furniture around will likely injure yourself or damage your stuff.

Local Moves

The go-to for local moves is to rent a moving truck from companies like U-haul which can cost a few hundred dollars depending upon the size of the truck. Many truck rental companies now offer add-ons that provide a local crew to pack and unpack the truck. The added expense may be worth it if you are not experienced in packing a truck to prevent items from shifting which could cause damage to your stuff while in-transit, especially if you drive like you are on a Nascar track.

Long-Distance Moves

Longer, interstate moves can be made using the DIY rental truck method or with storage containers and moving companies. Driving a 28-foot rental truck in heavy traffic down an interstate is not for the faint of heart. Storage pods or professional moving companies are typically better, or at least less stressful, options for interstate moving.

A new, less expensive option than hiring a moving company is moving with storage containers. The company offloads a storage container at your house, you fill it up with your stuff, and the company picks it up. The bonus for using storage containers is that you can pay an extra fee for the company to store it at their facility if you cannot immediately move in to your new home.

A few words of caution here on storage container moving. Most are solidly built to resist impacts and keep water out, but they must be packed well to prevent shifting while loading/unloading and in transit. I used this method once and ended up replacing a  brand-new washing machine that was damaged beyond repair.

Some Storage Container Moving Companies

Professional moving companies are the easiest, but not the cheapest, option for moving long distance. Some offer an expensive white glove service where their employees will come pack up your belongings. While this can save you time, you can likely do just a good of a job packing things into boxes.

For standard load/unloading and transit options, I still found a wide range in pricing (several thousand for my 800-mile move). In many cases this is due to the innerworkings of the industry. Many moving companies run local crews that will come to your home with a smaller truck, load your belongings, and then transfer it to a 3rd party company that provides interstate moving. These “broker” companies are in effect middle man operations that must charge for their service plus (with profit markup) the fee paid to the other company. This is quite common because of the added costs and previously mentioned regulations involved with interstate moving.

Some Interstate Moving Companies

Remember to get in-person estimates so the moving company can accurately estimate the weight of your items for your move. There are also three types of estimates that can be provided: non-binding, binding, and binding not-to-exceed.

  • Non-binding estimates are based on the perceived or estimated weight of your items, but the final bill will reflect the actual weight of your items, which could be higher than the original estimate.
  • Binding estimates also estimate the weight for the move but provide a fixed-cost that cannot change and will be your final bill.  The risk here is that you purge more or leave behind more items than originally expected, but still pay the original price quoted.
  • Binding not-to-exceed estimates are the best for consumers because the final bill cannot exceed the original estimate but can be less than, resulting in a lower final price. In my FSBO, I had a binding not-to-exceed estimate   and paid less than quoted because I moved less weight than originally thought.

Reputable moving companies will make the process transparent, provide everything in writing, and may even include additional perks like online services to hookup new utilities and services.

 

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