“This is like what they say don’t do,” Andrew Kalish, co-founder of Localize.city, a buyer-home matching platform, told Inman on Tuesday.
Kalish had just launched a new agent-matching service for his company, had a 2-and-a-half-year-old and a 4-year-old out of school and at home to keep track of, and was also preparing to move out of his New York apartment on Wednesday.
All this, amidst a near shut down of New York City due to the coronavirus pandemic. And no internet due to their service switch to the new apartment.
Kalish and his wife originally had plans to move at the end of March, with a luxurious one-month transition period between apartments in place, but once cases started to increase in New York City and the surrounding areas, they decided to usher their plans along before it was too late.
“I was here on 9/11 … and I was born here, I know how the city functions,” Kalish said. “And I was like, if this is really serious — these guys don’t mess around — and if this gets big, the only way [to stop it] is to shut everything down.”
When Kalish originally called the moving company he scheduled his move with, the only option was to plan the family’s move for the next day. But then the moving company said they started receiving cancellations for moves, and Kalish was able to reschedule with more time to prepare.
Although his expedited moving schedule has made things chaotic, Kalish said he felt lucky that they still have an apartment and will be able to move before harsher restrictions are put in place.
“Granted, we have a place to live, so we are in an enviable position, so if we were told to shelter in place we could,” Kalish said.
“It’s just one of those things — I don’t know if we’ll be physically allowed to enter buildings in a week,” Kalish continued. “It’s just that, a little bit of craziness.”
Because vehicles with commercial license plates are still allowed to travel on the streets in New York, movers can technically still operate as usual. However, Kalish’s experience speaking to his moving company shows that individuals are cancelling or changing moving plans at an increasing rate.
There’s also some evidence that moving companies may be operating with reduced staff, which may add stress to their businesses right now.
“I don’t know what to tell you, I’m the only one here because of the panic,” a customer service representative at NYC Great Movers who wished to remain anonymous told Inman when asked about talking to another staff member about the current state of business.
“The biggest impact in the moving industry is with respect to in-home estimating,” Venkatesh Ganapathy, CEO of MoveEasy, told Inman in an email.
“To get accurate estimates, moving companies are required to do a complete walkthrough of the home that they are moving. Over the phone estimates are just that. Estimates. In these times, people are hesitant to have strangers come to their houses not knowing if they are sick or not.”
Conversely, some storage facilities have seen an uptick in business, not because individuals are moving out of their apartments or downsizing, but because they need more room at home to stock up on necessary essentials.
“We’ve actually seen a massive movement towards storage facilities because people are making room in their homes and apartments for essentials only,” Ari Rastegar, founder of Rastegar Property Company, a real estate investment firm that focuses on self-storage, multi-family housing and discount retail, told Inman in an email.
“When it comes to stocking their homes, they’re prioritizing toiletries, food, water and anything else they may need during this pandemic, and moving anything they don’t need or that won’t fit into their homes, into storage facilities,” Rastegar added. “We haven’t seen many individuals canceling their storage reservations, but instead, have actually seen an influx in storage rentals because everyone is so focused on stocking their homes with the absolute necessities.”
“There’s an added uncertainty,” Kalish said, about moving during this time. “You have people coming to your home that you don’t know. Everyone is wondering where everyone [has been].”