Top Questions You Should Ask Your Realtor

Whether you are buying or selling a home, the right real estate agent makes the process much easier. If you are looking to hire a real estate agent, you’ll want to ask lots of questions to determine if the agent is the right one for your needs.

Here are some of the important ones to consider:

1. How many closings have you had in the last year?

You can phrase this question as it relates to your goals, whether buying or selling, but knowing how much recent experience a real estate agent has in your area will help you determine if he or she is the right one. Look for an agent who has had a significant number of successful sales in your area.

A real estate agent who is willing and able to provide a number of statistics about his or her success in the market is one that is confident in being able to help you. This is the agent you want on your side.

2. Are you working full-time?

You will do best with someone who is working full-time as a real estate agent. Many part-time agents do quite well, but they are not able to give you their full attention. Choose a full-time agent if you want to reach your real estate goals more quickly.

3. What aspects of my real estate transaction will you handle personally?

Many agents, particularly those who work in an agency or firm, will delegate some tasks to free their time for the more critical tasks. Real estate transactions can be maddeningly complex, and it’s not cost effective for them to handle every aspect themselves. However, you should know what parts are being delegated and what parts the agent is handling. Plus, the answer to this question will give you a clearer picture of the agent’s knowledge and expertise.

4. Do you think my goals are reasonable?

Before you talk to your agent, know what your specific real estate goals are. For example, if you are selling, know what you think you need to sell the house for. Then, ask the agent what he or she thinks you will be able to sell it for. This will give you a clear picture of your agent’s market knowledge, and it will also help you determine if your goals are reasonable.

If you are buying, tell the agent what your goals are. What type of house do you want, where do you want to live and what is your price range? Then, see if your agent thinks your goals are within reach.

An experienced real estate agent will be able to use current market data to help you consider your goals. They will know details that you can’t find on national home search sites. If they are bringing detailed market statistics to you to help you analyze your goals, then you’ve likely found a good agent.

5. May I see the comparative market analysis for homes for sale in my area?

If you are selling, the comparative market analysis will be an invaluable tool. This gives you details about the local market and what your home is likely worth. Not all homes have comparable properties that the realtor can share with you, but you should ask to see if they are available.

When the realtor presents the comps, use the opportunity to ask detailed questions. This will show you what the real estate agent knows about your local market conditions.

6. What is your plan for showing my home?

For sellers, the agent’s marketing plan is crucial. Know how the agent plans to show and market your home, and make sure that it includes the following:

  • Online marketing
  • Photos, photos and more photos, preferably taken professionally
  • Open houses, at least for other agents
  • The use of technology to help with the sale
  • Home staging help

The more marketing techniques employed, the better your success will be, so spend some time on this question.

7. What is your availability?

If you are buying, find out when the agent is available to show you potential houses. Make sure that the availability is in line with your own. You don’t want to end up with an agent that can only show houses on days or times when you have to be working.

Whether you are buying or selling, you want the right agent at your side. Take the time to ask these detailed questions, and you can move forward with confidence that you have found the right one!

 

Guest post by Phil Henderson, President of Henderson Properties, a family-owned real estate agency located in the greater Charlotte area that focuses on home sales services and property maintenance.

 

Top 10 Tips For Cross-Country Moving

Relocating to another state is no easy feat. To help make your transition as smooth as possible, we’ve broken down the top 10 tips you should know when moving cross-country.

1. Plan Ahead

Good movers’ calendars fill up fast, especially during heavy move season (June through August). To reserve the mover of your choice and save yourself from last-minute headaches, start planning for your move at least six weeks in advance.

2. Investigate

It’s crucial that you hire a licensed, reliable mover when trusting them with your stuff across state lines. Check the following credentials when researching possible movers:

  • USDOT License: Movers that cross state lines are required by the Department of Transportation to have a USDOT license. You can easily find a mover’s USDOT number on their MCR listing (shown below), website or on the written estimate they provide you. Always make sure the USDOT number is accurate and up to date at Safersys.org.

Mover-Details

  • Reviews: Read reviews on MCR to learn about other customers’ experiences with the movers you’re considering. All of our reviews are verified, so you can trust that they came from a real consumer for a real move. Look for review referencing interstate moves in particular so you know what to expect in terms of timeliness, communication and professionalism.

3. Know Your Options

Request quotes from at least 3 qualified movers; keeping in mind the cheapest option may not always be the best. Be aware of any hidden charges and the type of estimate offered. Non-binding estimates factor the weight of your shipment into the final cost. While binding estimates or, better yet, binding not-to-exceed estimates put a limit on the amount you will pay for your move.

Don’t trust estimates over-the-phone. Insist on an in-person estimate to help prevent surprise costs come move day.

Bonus tip: Watch out for another “catch”; be sure you understand the difference between a mover and a broker – learn more here. Your best bet is to stick with a mover since you’ll know exactly who is handing your stuff, and because brokers aren’t covered by current consumer protection laws.

4. Put It On Paper

After selecting a mover, obtain hard copies of the following documents:

  • Estimate: This document describes the services for which you’ll be charged.
  • Bill of Lading: The receipt for your shipment and the contract for its transportation. You’ll receive this from your mover on moving day, if it doesn’t look right, talk to your mover before signing it.
  • Inventory: The detailed list of your household goods showing the number and condition of each item.

Having these documents on hand will ensure if something does go wrong, your bases are covered.

5. Consolidate Belongings

Consider this your chance to rid your home of extra junk. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you’ve used the item in the last 3 months; if not, it’s time to purge! Most interstate movers charge based on weight, so, the less stuff you have the cheaper your move will be. Don’t know what to do with your unwanted belongings? Think about donating to a charitable organization or hosting a moving sale!

6. Pack Accordingly

The further you move, the more potholes you’re likely to encounter along the way. To ensure your stuff is safe and secure, use durable moving boxes and packing supplies. Many movers will insist on certain types of boxes since they’ll need to fit well into the truck and sustain a long haul. Make sure to check with your moving company on any requirements. Move day kits can save you a bunch of time and money and usually come in standard mover-approved sizes. Kits contain boxes, tape, packing paper, markers and box cutters. The best part? If you order online, your kit will arrive, at your door in 1-2 business days. Check one more thing off your to-do list and find a kit that fits your move here.

Bonus tip: Some items are far too dangerous to be put in your moving truck, especially for a long-distance move, check out the 5 things NOT to pack in your moving truck here.

7. Protect Your Move

Even with great movers, accidents happen with 1 out of 4 shipments. In the event of loss or damage to your property it’s important to know your mover’s liability. Most moving companies are only obligated to compensate 60 cents per pound, and this often excludes boxes you packed on your own. Think about this… if your 46″ television gets damaged, you’ll only receive $20! To give you peace of mind during your big move, check to see what your current insurance covers. If it’s not enough, look into 3rd party coverage.

8. Moving Day

Be present on pick-up day to watch and direct the movers as they load your belongings. Typically, this is when your inventory sheet will be filled out. Be aware of the condition of your items and DO NOT sign your inventory sheet until both you and your mover agree on the condition. After your truck is loaded, walk through your home to be sure nothing was forgotten. Last but not least, exchange numbers and any important information with the drivers!

9. Be Available

As soon as your mover hits the road, have your cell on you at all times. Interstate moves are often done on a large tractor-trailer with 5 or 6 other household goods shipments. In these cases, movers need flexibility, so you’ll more than likely be given a “delivery spread,” the timeframe within which your shipment will be delivered. When given a delivery spread, you’ll be contacted by your mover 24 hours before delivery day. Arrange travel plans to meet the movers at your new place. If you’re unable to be there, you could be charged extra to have your items stored.

10. Delivery Day

Make the unloading process as smooth as possible by following these steps on delivery day:

  • Have your payment ready. Typically you’ll pay your mover on delivery, before your goods are unloaded.
  • Use your inventory sheet to check all items were delivered, and in good condition. Don’t sign any documents until you’ve confirmed this.
  • When finished, don’t forget to tip your mover for a job well done! Learn proper tipping etiquette here.

Good luck and don’t forget to come back and review your experience to help others have a happy move too!

What’s a Bill of Lading and why do we need them for reviews?

A Bill of Lading Primer

The Bill of Lading (BOL) is one of the most important documents you’ll receive from your mover. Your mover should give this to you on moving day and it includes crucial information about your move, like your “from” and “to” addresses, inventory of your belongings and costs. You can read more about the BOL here. Think of it as a confirmation of everything you and your mover have agreed to. If anything doesn’t look right, talk to your mover before signing.

We’re not snooping; we’re just thorough

When you review your mover on MCR, we require that you attach your BOL in order for your review to be published. “Eek! But it has my address!” you may think. Don’t worry. We’ll never publish your BOL on the site and we’re not trying to be nosy. The BOL is just the very best way for us to verify that all of our reviews come from real consumers for real moves.

What we look for on the BOL

First, we need to be able to read it. Then, we check for the mover’s name, location and license number (these should all be part of their paperwork). To verify your move, we at minimum check for your from/to locations, your move date and your signature indicating that the move was completed.

What’s so great about ‘verified’?

We’ve all seen the questionable review that’s just too good to be true. How do you know what to trust? By validating each review with a BOL, we can guarantee that the reviews you’re reading are real. It’s also our way of ensuring that a mover can’t keep a bad review from being posted. If we can prove the move happened, we’ll publish the review to help others avoid a bad experience.

So, when we ask you for your BOL with your review, we’re really not trying to be annoying. We’re just trying to be the most trusted source on the web for mover reviews. Love this idea? Hate it? Let us know at support@movingcompanyreviews.com.

 

 

 

 

Seven Amazing Packing Hacks For Moving

Give a kid an empty moving box and they can barely contain their excitement. It can be a fort, a robot or even a racecar…the possibilities are endless. But to us grown ups, empty moving boxes mean countless hours and the painful process of fitting our lives (and homes) into pieces of cardboard.

There’s no way around actually packing up your stuff. But here are our top home packing hacks to help you move like a boss.

7. Pack your dishes on their side

Pros know the best way to prevent chips and damage to your dinnerware is to pack them vertically on their side, not stacked on top of each other. Make sure you use plenty of wrap paper or bubble wrap in between each layer too for extra padding.

6. Put a little plastic wrap on your toiletries

Unscrew the caps of your shampoos, soaps, lotions and anything else that might spill during the move. Cover the opening with a piece of plastic wrap and then secure the caps on your bottles over the plastic. Only takes a second but can save you lots of extra cleanup!

5. Pack small hardware into bags and label for each piece of furniture

It’s hard enough taking apart your bed, dining table and any other large pieces of furniture to make it fit into the moving truck or in the doorway of your new home. Save yourself the hassle when it’s time to put it all back together by placing all hardware for each piece of furniture in individual Ziploc bags, then clearly labeling them. Keep all bags together so re-assembly is a breeze when you’re ready.

4. Color code your boxes and rooms to match

Use colored labels or tape to clearly mark the contents of each box for the room it’s designated for. Then make it easy for your movers to unload by labeling each door or entrance to the room to match the labels on the box (i.e. pink for kitchen, blue for living room etc.). Don’t forget to label on the sides, not tops of your boxes, so you can read them even when your boxes are stacked.

3. Secure contents in drawers with stretch plastic wrap

If you want to keep items in their respective drawers, simply wrap plastic wrap securely around it to make sure it stays in place. This works for portable organizers like silverware trays or securing dresser drawers from sliding in transit. No unpacking necessary, just peel and you’re ready to go.

2. Pack sturdy books and other small, sturdy items in a roll-away suitcase

Don’t worry about breaking your boxes that are overloaded with heavy hardcovers and your extensive DVD collection. Just put them in your suitcase and wheel it away.

 1. Take a picture of your electronics before disconnecting

It only takes a minute or two to disconnect any cables and components for your TV and other electronics. But if you’re not sure how to put it all back together, it can cost you a frustratingly long time. Avoid this by taking a quick picture of the backs of your electronics before you disconnect them so you have a visual cheat sheet for where everything goes when it’s time to put it all back together.

Should I purchase moving insurance from my mover?

Your Moving Insurance Options

Any idea how much will your mover is required to reimburse you if they break your flat screen TV during your move? $20.

Yep, that’s right. Just $20. The standard liability coverage your mover offers you is based on the weight of your items; not their monetary value. Your mover is only required to compensate you for $0.60 per pound, so for a 46″ flat screen TV, that could be as little as $20.

Particularly if you have precious belongings and/or are moving long-distance, consider investing in supplemental move insurance. First, check with your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance provider to see if you’ll be covered under your existing policy. If not, consider one of the following options.

Mover-Provided Coverage – Released Value Protection

  • This type of coverage MUST be included in your mover’s quote and offered at no additional charge
  • In the event of loss or damage, your mover will reimburse you for $0.60 per pound. So if they damage a 5 lb stereo speaker, you would be reimbursed $3.
  • Boxes you pack yourself are not covered
  • You must sign a statement on your Bill of Lading to agree to this type of coverage

Mover-Provided Coverage – Full Value Protection

  • This coverage is offered by your mover at an additional charge
  • The cost may vary according to your mover and may have different deductible levels impacting your possible premium rates
  • In the event of loss or damage,  your mover will repair, replace or reimburse you for the item.
  • Your mover will not cover “high value” items unless specifically detailed by you prior to the move (e.g. jewelry or china)
  • In most cases, boxes you pack yourself are not covered

3rd Party Moving Insurance or Protection

  • Your mover may recommend a 3rd party for Released Value coverage, or you may choose one on your own
  • You make this purchase yourself and not through your mover
  • We recommend our partner, MoveProtection.com, which offers affordable premiums for some of the most comprehensive coverage on the market. Unlike most insurance companies, MoveProtection.com also covers boxes you pack yourself.

Learn more about all of these options at ProtectYourMove.gov.
Accidents happen