Are you looking for a residential mover in the Baltimore area? Don’t worry; you aren’t alone. Millions of Americans move every year. Most of us don’t go too far, but no matter whether you are moving locally or across the country, finding the right moving company to assist you will make the whole process much more manageable.
The best way to start is by doing some preparation—both mental and physical. Hopefully, you have plenty of time to get ready for the move, so you aren’t rushed. Moving is an excellent opportunity to sort through the stuff that you might not need anymore and get rid of some of it. There are so many ways to sell things online these days; you might turn this relocation into a profitable enterprise if you look at it with an open mind. Garage sales are so pre-pandemic, but there are apps you can employ to list and sell almost anything to people near Baltimore or ship to a buyer far away. If you have a collection you are ready to part with, check out some of the sites that will maximize your exposure to potential buyers:
Alternatively, if you don’t want to bother selling or want to do some good while reducing clutter (or if you need a tax deduction), you may consider donating some of your unneeded items to a charitable organization. The largest national charities include Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Habitat for Humanity, among many others. Your Baltimore neighborhood likely has faith-based or community-oriented organizations that also need your gently-used cast-offs for their local work. Some will even pick up your donations.
If you can reduce your belongings, you will save time and money on the move. Decluttering and whittling down the pile of possessions also contributes to a sense of freedom and will help organize the project. As you sort through, deciding what to keep and what to discard, you can begin to pack the things you don’t use every day. This process is a brilliant way to get a head start on the tedious job of packing, particularly if you are not planning to engage the movers for that part of the work.
At the same time, ask friends and family if they have any movers to recommend, and begin the task of identifying several to consider. You may also get referrals from your employer, even if your move is not work-related. When someone gives you a suggestion, check the company name at the FMCSA site to ascertain whether the mover is registered. FMCSA is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, part of the Department of Transportation, regulating interstate moving companies. If you are moving entirely within Maryland, your mover will not necessarily have to register with FMCSA, but it’s worth checking. If the company does any interstate work, it is required to register. Companies that register have a Motor Carrier number, and you can look on the site to check out their safety record and customer service history.
Consumer advocates suggest that you request estimates from at least three residential moving companies as part of your selection process. Ask the movers to come to your home to assess the scope of work and submit a bid for the price. The mover’s representative should walk through your home and examine everything to be included in the move. The mover will create an inventory from that foundation, which is a detailed list of your furniture and other items. That inventory is used to generate the estimate of the move’s cost. If the journey is long-distance, the shipment’s weight and the distance to the destination are the primary components of the price. If the move is local, the mover will provide a price based on the estimated hours needed to complete the job.
Suppose the move is long-distance, and you request estimates from three moving companies. It is essential to note whether the estimates are binding or nonbinding. A binding estimate is a firm price and will not increase even if the mover miscalculated the shipment’s weight. A nonbinding estimate is not a firm price, although it should be close. If the mover estimates the cost at $5,000, the most it can raise the charge with a nonbinding estimate on delivery day is 10%, according to the FMCSA rules. If the mover believes it has cause to charge more, it must still deliver your household goods if you pay the estimated amount plus 10% and then send a bill for the rest. There is an exception to this rule. Suppose the destination has conditions that make it impossible for the mover to deliver without extra labor. In that case, they can add charges for that, but only another 15% on delivery day. Those conditions (formally called impracticable operations) are things that could not be seen in advance—like an elevator in the apartment that can’t be reserved that the mover was unaware of, or a parking restriction that requires the driver to park far away.
Interstate movers must provide you with a written estimate and a copy of their tariff, which explains all the potential fees they might charge you. They must give you a copy of the inventory, and the Bill of Lading, which is a copy of the agreement you sign. They will also provide you with a copy of (or a link to) a publication called Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move, which explains the rules about estimates and insurance, as well as dispute resolution and other important elements of interstate moves. It’s worth the time to review.
The rules are not as rigid for local moves, so it is up to you to be vigilant. Don’t settle for a verbal estimate, even for a local move. The mover may ask you to sign a blank or incomplete agreement, and this is a red flag. They may tell you they don’t need to look at the contents of your home, but if they offer you a very tempting low estimate, that could be a sign of a scam also. Sometimes the shady operator will provide a low verbal estimate and then raise the price once half of your load is in the truck. Other times the company will ask for a deposit to reserve the date and then just disappear. Be skeptical about deposits, especially large or cash requests.
Before you enter into an agreement with a moving company, conduct references. Ask the mover for names of some recent customers. A reputable company will be happy to share this information with you. Call the clients and discuss the move’s specifics to be sure you are speaking with actual customers. It’s best not to rely on testimonials posted on a company website because there is no way to determine if those are legitimate. Real customers, preferably recent ones, are a much better source of information about past performance. If the move goes well, consider providing the same service to your mover to help them gain future customers. It’s an easy way to say thank you for excellent service and also help other consumers find the best movers in Baltimore.