Moving is hard! And a long distance move — especially one out of state — is exponentially harder. If you have clients considering such a move, be prepared to help guide them through the process using these tips.

Nicole Solari is a top-producing broker-owner in Northern California whose regular bimonthly column, which covers real estate marketing, selling strategies and working with clients, publishes on Tuesdays. 

As real estate agents, we all think our jobs are hard. Finding the perfect properties for our buyers and helping our sellers trade one nest for another aren’t easy tasks. They require thought. They require effort. They demand perceptiveness, people skills, market knowledge and forbearance.

But they’re not moving.

Moving is hard! And a long distance move — especially one out of state — is exponentially harder.

If you have clients considering such a move, be prepared to help guide them through the process.

1. Assist in pinpointing where they’re going

If theirs is a multiple-choice situation, your biggest contribution might be providing comps from the locations under consideration if only to help them rule out unaffordable destinations.

If your clients plan to buy right away, refer them as soon as possible to local Realtors who will assist with their home search and familiarize them with their target area.

2. Help clients construct a realistic overall timetable for their sale, purchase and relocation

In broad terms, it should include:

  • Tasks to complete before a property goes on the market
  • Tasks to finish before and after a property goes into contract, including arranging the various pieces of the move
  • Move-out/move-in events, including returning or securing internet service equipment, returning borrowed items, etc.

3. Advise them to lighten their load before the move

Movers charge by the pound. Shedding excess stuff — especially heavy stuff — is a worthwhile exercise, one more easily done well in advance of a move. If clients wait until the movers are at their door, they’re going to wind up trashing a bunch of stuff that could have been donated, sold or given to people who would love to have it.

The landfills are too full already. So, your clients also need to start clearing out all the hidey holes where the stuff they “might use one day” is taking up space. Think the garage, closets, cupboards, pantries, toy bins, book shelves, storage sheds and rented storage units.

Finally, all moving companies insist liquids and hazardous materials not be loaded on their trucks. So, your people soon to be on-the-move need to use that stuff up, take it to hazardous waste centers before moving, or line up friends to take cleaning and gardening supplies off their hands when the time comes.

If they can’t go all Marie Kondo on their own stuff, there are professional move-managers who can. Provide them with their contact information.

4. While the clear-out is going on, help your clients decide how to move

Moving used to be an either/or choice. People might have packed their own things, but they hired professionals to move their household goods, especially cross country. The alternative was to pack everything, call on friends and family to help load and unload, and rent a truck to move themselves. You know, like you did in college.

Container-based moving offers a relatively new third option. A container is dropped in the clients’ driveway. The client padlocks it, keeping the only keys and packs the container. The container is picked up as arranged and returned to the provider’s warehouse, where it remains until clients arrange for transport.

Moving companies require a known destination to quote a rate. Even self-moving trucks can only be reserved when clients know where they’re going. If the exact address or date of the move are up-in-the-air, containers can still be rented and stored.

So, they make sense in situations where a property is going to be staged using some but not all of the sellers’ belongings or when the destination is undetermined.

The downside is that labor and transport are separated. So, the crew to load and unload has to be lined up at both the move-out and move-in site. In addition, when your client picks a container provider, they’ve also selected their intercity or interstate mover. Advise research!

5. Urge them to consider which travel option best suits their family

Important factors in this decision are the distance to be traveled and the number of people or pets involved.  The more of either, the greater the difficulty. Children must be entertained and pets vaccinated (and, often, drugged).

Airline websites provide each carrier’s carry-on restrictions and pet travel policies. And their pets’ regular vet can ensure pets have all required vaccinations — and the paperwork to prove it — and that they having appropriate medications.

If your clients decide to fly, they will need to sell their cars or locate a driver or transport for their vehicles. Transport providers (and user reviews) are plentiful online. Forewarn them that shipped autos cannot be used to haul leftover stuff. A file box or two in the trunk and a blanket or pillows in the car are about the max allowed.

If they opt to  drive to their new home, encourage them to make sure their car is ready and able to make the trip. They will also need to plan a route and make lodging reservations ahead of time, especially during peak travel times.

6. Help them start their new lives

When your clients finally arrive at their new home, they will have to redo virtually every aspect of their lives — from stopping and starting utilities, transferring prescription medications, finding new health care providers and changing their kids’ schools to revisiting the particulars of every insurance policy, applying for new library cards, retitling their cars, getting new driver’s licenses and finding a grocery store that carries their kids’ favorite cereals.

So, make your last, best gift to them a checklist of tasks to accomplish as they settle in. And a nice bottle of wine, of course.

Nicole Solari is owner and managing broker of The Solari Group in Solano and Napa Counties in Northern California. Nicole runs one of the highest producing brokerages in all of Northern California.

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