Follow these easy steps to ensure a smooth move

By: Dena Kouremetis and Beth Mergens
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If you’re hiring a moving company to take most of your earthly belongings from point A to point B, you might run into a lot of lingo you don’t understand, according to RealtyTimes’s Tim Johnson, in his report, “To Avoid a Moving Scam, Keep it Simple.” For example, estimates can be “binding” or “non-binding,” movers use a “tariff’ to determine rates; and when the mover ships your goods, you receive a “bill of lading.” Even when you research movers, you’ll find a mass of regulations. If you’re moving within California, state government regulates your move. But, if you’re moving across the country, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the entity that regulates it all. Johnson notes three pitfalls to avoid in order prevent a lousy experience with poor moving companies. 1. Failing to get an in-home estimate The moving company you are considering should survey exactly what they would be expected to move. Without this in-person assessment, it will be nearly impossible to come up with a close-to-accurate moving estimate. Giving an inventory over the phone or completing one online just won’t cut it and it gives unscrupulous moving companies the opportunity to claim that your inventory was incorrect and void the estimate — on moving day, no less. For an easy way to decrease your chances of hiring an unscrupulous moving company, try sites that offer pre-screened, pre-qualified movers, such as 2. Not choosing a mover with a local presence It isn’t a bad idea to visit the moving company’s offices to ensure it is a legitimate mover and not just a broker that may pawn your move off on someone else. It may also set your mind at ease if you personally see the company’s name all over its trucks and moving supplies — not to mention following up after a damage or loss claim post-move will be easier if the company is nearby. 3. Going with the lowest bid You know what they say about something that sounds too good to be true. It usually isn’t. It’s wise to procure at least three moving quotes for your move. If two of the movers are priced around the same level, and the third comes in with a price that is significantly lower, some healthy skepticism is in order. According to Johnson, all moving companies face the same costs, so if someone is telling you they can accomplish your move for a lot less, they may be planning to make up the difference by claiming ridiculous expenses later, such as excess packing charges or claims that you added items to your move after you got your estimate. Packing up and moving is one of the most stressful experiences in our lives, but hedging against disaster by performing some due diligence ahead of time might just help you avoid a moving disaster. Writer Dena Kouremetis can be reached through her Web site at Folsom Re/MAX broker associate Beth Mergens is available at 947-3993 or at