When you’ve moving long-distance, finding a great moving company may be the last thing on your mind. After all, you’re dealing with buying a new home and selling your old one, saying goodbye to dear friends and neighbors, and potentially getting ready to start a new job.
However, don’t fall into the trap of simply choosing the company that offers the cheapest rate because of everything else on your to-do list. You’re likely to regret it when your new TV is damaged, the company charges you more than promised, or — worse yet — they hold your items hostage until you pay an additional amount. These scenarios may sound crazy, but all have happened before, according to the Better Business Bureau.
Instead, take some time to do your research. Here are some items to consider when you’re looking for a long-distance moving company to help you make the trek across the country.
Get In-Person Estimates
Before you choose a moving company, get estimates from at least three. Companies should offer these quotes free of charge. Be wary of a company that conducts all of its business online and sends you a quote for the service without even stepping foot in your home to scope out the job. Before they send you a final quote, most legitimate companies will want a good idea of how much there is to move and which items in particular may take extra care.
You may get some legal-eze accompanying your moving estimate. If the company says the estimate is “non-binding,” this means the cost is not guaranteed and will be based on the actual weight after all is said and done. However, the final cost cannot be more than the original estimate plus 10%.
A “binding” contract is also known as a guaranteed price — the company will charge you the price quoted in the original estimate, unless you add any additional services not discussed previously.
Estimates can also be given as “guaranteed not to exceed” pricing, which means that if the services come out to less than the original estimate, you pay the lower price. If they come out higher, you pay the estimated price. This latter pricing is the best option for you, so look for companies that offer it.
One simple way to verify the legitimacy of a cross-country moving company is to ask for their Department of Transportation (DOT) number, or search for it on their website or advertising material. This license identifies commercial vehicles hauling cargo from one state to another and any moving company doing so must have one. In fact, 33 states require moving companies to have this federal license even for in-state moves.
The American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) is also a great resource for finding a reliable moving company. They even offer a ProMover program that identifies trusted moving professionals who pass a background check and adhere to the association’s standards.
Pay Attention to Reviews
Just as you’d ask your friends and family for recommendations and reviews on a new doctor, a gym, or a great place to eat, you should do the same with moving companies. Nothing provides better insight to the service a company will provide than someone who has used them before.
If your network doesn’t provide any options for movers, hit up the internet. Search for a company’s name with the words “complaints” or “reviews” to see what others are saying and check out the Better Business Bureau to read reviews and see what letter grade the organization has assigned to the company. You can even search the Department of Transportation’s website for complaints and safety ratings for licensed interstate moving companies.
Expected Costs and Deposit
Once you’ve narrowed down a few companies and contacted them for quotes, you’ll want to provide some guidelines on services you’d like them to provide before they visit your home to give an estimate. Most companies charge extra for things like going up and down stairs, taking apart and putting together furniture and packing up especially awkward or breakable items.
You’ll also want to decide if you’d like to pay extra for things like having the mover actually pack up and unpack your belongings, storage of items, or transportation of a vehicle. For those who move frequently for the company they work for, these services may be paid for by the company because of the need for relocation.
Some moving companies require you to pay a small deposit prior to the move, while others won’t charge you anything until the move is complete. If a company requires more than 20% of the total cost upfront, be suspicious. It’s also a good idea to put the payment on a credit card — you’ll have a better chance of getting that cost back if something goes wrong.
Your mover should be insured in the event that anything is damaged — interstate movers are required to provide basic coverage of 60 cents per pound per item, but this amount won’t get you very far if they damage a heavy (expensive!) TV. You can usually purchase more comprehensive coverage from the moving company at about 1% of the total value. Also, check your homeowner’s insurance to see if they provide any additional coverage while your belongings are being moved from home to home.
If you’re considering buying a home or selling a home to move across the country, connect with an experienced, local agent for guidance and support throughout the process.
For buyers, Clever Partner Agents are able to offer on-demand showings — sometimes in less than an hour — so you know you won’t miss out on your dream home. Plus, you’re eligible for a $1,000 buyer’s rebate on any home you purchase for more than $150,000.
If you’re selling, Clever Partner Agents are top-rated real estate agents who are experts in their local markets. They come from major brands and regional brokerages — like Keller Williams and Century 21 — and offer the same full service as other agents. The only difference is that they have agreed to work with sellers for a flat fee of $3,000 or 1% if your home sells for more than $350,000.