First-Time Homebuyer Guide: Hiring Professional Help for Moving

Mover unloading truck of boxes

Mover unloading truck of boxes

Congratulations!  You’ve just completed the exciting process of buying a brand new home and the big day has arrived – it’s time to move in!  For new home owners who want to avoid the heavy lifting (literally), hiring movers will make your move easy.

Here are the main factors to consider when selecting a professional moving company to ensure you’ll get reliable help and the most for your money:

Phone vs. visual cost estimates

Some companies will attempt to provide you with a cost estimate for services over the phone by either asking you a long series of questions regarding the items you intend to move or have you fill out this information on their website.  Other companies will insist on sending an agent to your home to visually inspect your items in hopes of creating a more detailed and correct cost estimate.  If possible, always seek out companies that utilize in-home cost estimates as they are more often correct compared to phone only and will help you avoid future stress and confusion. 

Type of cost estimate: weight or cubic feet?

Moving companies will calculate your estimate by one of two methods – total weight or total cubic feet of the items being moved. Cost estimates generated by total weight are typically more accurate and easier to verify after the move should any questions arise.  Cubic feet estimates tend to be very subjective and may be influenced by how the company chooses to pack your items before they are loaded into the moving truck. 


Type of cost estimate: Binding or non-binding? 

“Non-Binding” cost: estimates that are subject to change during the moving process if the company determines the original estimate was incorrect in some way or the inventory of items being transported no longer matches the original inventory estimate.  While there have been instances when Non-Binding estimates and contracts have saved the customer money due to an initial over estimation, they more often than not will result in a greater final cost to the customer.  

“Binding” cost: these contracts will lock in the price so there are no surprises waiting for you once the move is under way.  While binding estimates may tend to come in a bit higher in cost than non-binding, it may be worth the peace of mind knowing in advance the total cost to plan for in your moving budget.

“Binding Not to Exceed” estimate and contract: in larger markets, with multiple companies competing for your contract, you may be able to obtain one of these contracts. This is similar to a Binding contract but includes a provision that will refund money back to you should the original estimate be higher than the expenses actually created during the move.  You may have to ask for this type of estimate and contract as they are available but frequently not pitched by the moving companies during the initial cost estimate visit. 

  • Additional Services Costs and Fees – may include packaging items for you, moving items more than a certain distance from your house to the truck, moving items up and down a preset amount of stairs and having insufficient parking areas close to your home for the truck to be loaded. 
    Is the company you want to hire legit?

Gather the following pieces of information from all moving companies you are considering hiring:

  • The company’s full name as well as any other names it may utilize to do business
  • The physical address of the agent’s main office along with phone numbers, websites and email addresses
  • References from the company that include valid phone numbers
  • The prospective company’s MC (motor carrier) and USDOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) license numbers.  If possible, ask the agent for a copy of the inventory list they have just created during the visit so you may double check their accuracy.

If you want to further verify potential moving companies, we suggest checking out the resources available here and here.

What does moving insurance cover?

In most states, licensed movers will include declared liability coverage which typically pays out $0.60 per pound of an items declared value. For most customers, the included liability coverage will be insufficient and additional valuation insurance will be needed. Your moving company will most likely offer additional coverage options and outside insurance companies will be an option as well. Be sure to check your home owner’s policy as some moving coverage may be included that you are not aware of that may help keep insurance costs down. 

Packed by owner: while you may save some money packing your own boxes ahead of the move, this may also negate any insurance coverage you may have purchased should items be damaged in transit. The industry terms this “PBO”, packed by owner, and will typically only payout a claim if a listed inventory item is lost during the move but not if damage occurs. In many cases, you may only wish to self-pack boxes and items that you are not concerned with should they become damaged and allow your movers to pack the rest to ensure proper valuation insurance coverage. 

What about moving pods?

 You’ve probably already seen a metal “moving pod” sitting in a neighbor’s driveway. Moving pods allow you the flexibility of loading and moving on your schedule. Moving pods allow for your items to be transported by a professional driver and frequently include storage options once picked up enabling you to more accurately have your items arrive at your new home the same day you do. Pods do require a permanent drop off area for loading which may not be possible for all customers especially if they reside in an apartment complex. For many, moving pods offer a viable option to self-moving or professional movers and you may want to explore the logistics and costs of these companies during your pre-move discovery process. 

If you decide not to hire professional movers to help you out, we recommend checking out this article for additional advice.

B. Ford spent more than a decade in the specialty appliance retail industry, and now devotes his time to freelance print and video content creation. 

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