Meathead Movers

Do What You Can, Then Hope for the Best When Moving Part II

Last week, I reviewed a few tips about how to minimize potential problems that come along with moving. I recommended ways to carefully manage the packing process; I provided information on choosing a reputable moving company, and I shared advice from Rob McAsey at Mark Davis Insurance about reviewing your homeowner’s policy to be sure you’re adequately covered. I also mentioned the importance of contacting utility companies before you move to prevent the unfortunate scenario of completing your move, only to be left sitting in a cold, dark house surrounded by boxes ready to unpack.

Because most people don’t move very often, they have no way of knowing what’s normal and what’s not, as well as what’s included in the base price and what’s extra. I’m happy to say that I’ve heard of no reports of fraud or negligence with professional moving companies in Ukiah, but for those moving out of town, here are some additional tips on how to protect your belongings and minimize the move’s impact on your pocketbook.

The number one way to have a bad moving experience is to work with a bad moving company, so be sure to ask your Realtor for a list of licensed and insured movers. Be aware that hiring a company solely because they offer the lowest price can end up being very expensive.

Not all moving companies are created equal. In addition to their experience and professionalism, consider their specialties. Some companies are accustomed to the challenges of rural moves with dirt roads and homes that aren’t accessible with big moving trucks. Other companies are used to working in big, metropolitan areas with constant traffic zipping around their movers and the challenges of getting your belongings into your third-floor condominium.

Once you’ve found a good company, avoid misunderstandings by clearly expressing your needs and expectations. Carefully review the moving company’s scope of work and fee structure so everyone is clear on who does what. Are you packing your belongings, or are they? Where will they unload your belongings—to the curb, to the first floor, upstairs? Is there an extra fee for furniture that weighs more than a specified amount (like your solid oak desk or piano)? Here’s a list of common services for which you may have to pay extra.

  1. Disposal Fee. If you want the movers to take the extra packing material with them after they move the furniture, you may have to let them know ahead of time.
  2. Furniture Disassembly and Reassembly. Some furniture won’t fit through a regular door jamb and must be disassembled and reassembled when moved. Are you doing this, or are they?
  3. Appliance Hook Ups. Some moving companies may not even offer to hook up your appliances because of liability issues, but if they do offer this service, they’ll likely charge for it.
  4. Long Carry. If the movers cannot park directly in front of your house, or if there is no parking close to your house, they may charge extra for a “long carry.” If possible, reserve the space in front of your home to avoid this charge.
  5. Shuttle Moves. If the movers cannot drive their big truck up to your new house, they may need to transfer your belongings to a smaller “shuttle” truck. This will cost extra.
  6. Storage and Warehousing. If there is any delay in moving your belongings directly into your new house when the truck arrives, the moving company will charge you for the use of their truck (or the cost of the warehouse), and any extra labor costs.

Although moving is stressful, if you plan well, you shouldn’t have any problems.

If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at or visit If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.


Meathead Movers

Do What You Can, Then Hope for the Best When Moving

You’ve sold your house and you need to be out by 5:00 pm today, but the movers don’t show up as promised. You call to inquire why and they let you know they’re running a couple days behind. You call your Realtor to see if the buyers can wait a couple days, but find out their movers are on the way with two big trucks full of everything the buyers own, and they’re on schedule to arrive promptly at 5:00 pm, when you no longer own the house, according to your sales contract.

To avoid this and similarly dreadful moving scenarios, it’s best to plan ahead as much as you can. Then, all you can do is take a deep breath and hope for the best.

Carefully manage the packing process.

Whether you pack your own belongings or have professional packers do it for you, head to the hardware store and purchase about eight different colors of duct tape. Use yellow on boxes for the master bedroom, blue for the kitchen, and so on. When you arrive at your new home, put a little duct tape of the corresponding color on the doorway to each room so movers can put boxes in the right rooms.

If you pack your own things, use small and medium-sized boxes (ones you can lift when they’re full). If you hire movers to pack your things, I recommend keeping a close eye on the process by letting them know you’ll label boxes as they pack.

Choose a reputable moving company.

Many people try to save money by moving themselves. If you can afford professional movers, I recommend you do so. While your brother-in-law and your Great Uncle Ned might be fun at family barbecues, their knowledge about how to transport Grandma’s heirloom china might not be too impressive.

To find a good moving company, ask your friends, family, or Realtor for a referral and then check out the reviews online. Make sure whoever you hire has liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and content coverage. And for specifics about what is included in their fees and what is extra.

Review Your Homeowner’s Insurance.

According to Rob McAsey at Mark Davis Insurance, you should review your homeowner’s insurance before you move so you know what’s covered. Let’s say you own a home worth $500,000. Contents coverage is usually set at 70 percent of that value, or $350,000. The coverage for contents that leave the home is often 10 percent of that, so $35,000. If all your belongings in that truck would cost more than $35,000 to replace, you might consider purchasing more insurance.

I recently heard a horror story about a family moving to Ukiah whose mover stopped en route to visit someone. During the stopover, the moving truck was stolen. Unfortunately, although the client had confirmed that the moving company had insurance, he had not checked how much. The moving company’s insurance carrier paid $50,000 for $130,000 worth of losses, leaving our new Ukiah resident $80,000 in the hole.

Schedule Utilities Activation Early.

It’s Friday at 6:00 pm. Your belongings have been transported to your new home and almost all the boxes have miraculously been placed in the right rooms. The sun is setting. It’s time to order pizza and celebrate.  You reach for the light switch to turn on the lights when you realize no one has alerted the utility companies that you’ve arrived. You have no electricity, no water, and no gas.

Avoid this situation by contacting utility companies early.

Be Clear About What’s Included and What’s Extra.

Next week, I’ll write about all the services that are typically included when you hire movers, and those for which you must pay extra.

If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at or visit If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.


Moving Made Easy

While the idea of living in a new home can be exciting, the process of moving there is not. Here are a few ways to ease the process and save a little money.

First, decide whether to hire movers. You can hire movers who simply take the boxes, furniture, and appliances to your new location, or you can hire full-service movers who pack your belongings into boxes for you. I highly recommend doing your homework when choosing a moving company—get referrals and be sure you understand the company’s contract regarding what is included and what is extra, as well as their policies on complaints and/or claims. If you decide to hire movers, and you want to save a little money, avoid the high season premium by moving before June or after September, if you can.

The other thing you should do before you move is to wait until your escrow closes. I know this sounds obvious, but as someone who’s been in this business for a while, I have seen “rock solid” transactions fall apart.

If you are packing your own things, you can usually find free boxes by reaching out to friends and family. You can also find free boxes online; the Facebook page called Ukiah for Sale or Trade and come to mind as places to start. Of course, the fewer belongings you move, the cheaper it will be. Moving is a great opportunity to get rid of stuff. Have a garage sale or donate unwanted goods to local charities like the Ukiah Senior Center, Hospice, or Salvation Army. If you haven’t digitized your music, consider doing so and selling or donating your old CDs.

Before you start packing, create an inventory of your possessions for insurance purposes (it’s best to use photos or video). You should actually have a recent inventory of your possessions whether you’re moving or not, but let’s face it, most of us can’t be bothered.

Once you start packing, take some tips from blogger Suzanne De Vita. Don’t waste time un-hanging (and re-hanging) closet garments. Group a few hanging clothes together with a zip tie, slide a black garbage bag over them, and make a hole in the top of the bag for hanger hooks. To “unpack,” simply remove the bag and tie. She also recommends the following: instead of emptying out the drawers of small-scale furniture, like end tables or corner desks, wrap heavy-duty plastic wrap around the piece of furniture, from top-to-bottom and side-to-side. This will seal the drawers in place and prevent spillage on moving day, and save you hours worth of unpacking time.

When moving, the word “heavy” and the word “expensive” are synonymous. If you have a lot of books, consider mailing them at the media rate. It may be cheaper than having movers deal with them. If you have weight-lifting equipment or heavy tools, it could actually be cheaper to sell the equipment and/or tools before you move and buy new ones when you arrive at your new home. The same goes for a heavy pool table, kitchen appliances, and other heavy items.

Now, the only upside to moving expenses is that they are often tax deductible, as long as you keep records during your move (including transportation, lodging and meals). You should also keep records of home improvements and expenses associated with preparing your house for sale. Your accountant can tell you exactly what is tax deductible and what isn’t.

Finally, don’t forget to contact the utility companies on both ends, to shut off service for the house you’re leaving and to turn on service the day you arrive at your new home. It’s tough to move in when you can’t turn the lights on. Your Realtor can give you a list of names and numbers of utility companies.

If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at or visit If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you’re a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.