Portable storage is a moving method that has been growing in popularity in recent years — and for a good reason. Portable storage containers can make homesellers’ job of getting their home ready for the market a lot easier. As a real estate agent, your clients might come to you for advice about using a portable storage unit.

So, what do you need to know to best assist your clients with their move? Making a move with PODS is often a popular choice, but are there other worthwhile moving container companies? How much does a moving container cost? What are some of the essential considerations to advise my clients for their portable storage needs?

Let’s look at the issues involved with renting a portable moving and storage container so you can be better equipped to give your clients sound advice.

1. Choosing a moving container

Portable storage units allow people to have their possessions moved more conveniently, with the containers delivered right to their homes. Once the consumers fill them with their belongings, the company will collect and deliver them to their new address.

A service like this can also benefit sellers who need to free up space in their homes when preparing for showings. Containers can be delivered, filled and taken to a storage facility for as long as required.

While using a moving container will typically give people more time to pack moving boxes or somewhere to store possessions when staging a home, there are other things to consider as well.

2. What are the best moving container companies?

The following companies have an outstanding reputation in the moving and storage container industry. Choosing one of these companies in your location should work out well: PODS, U-Haul, 1-800-Pack-Rat, U-Pack and Smartbox.

When it comes time to pick a moving container company, you should advise your clients to ask a series of questions to understand what they need to know. Policies and procedures can vary from company to company.

3. Understand packing considerations with portable storage

Your clients will need to be aware that their possessions could be at more risk of damage in a storage unit. Items should be carefully packed so they don’t move too much or fall during transportation to their new location.

4. Weatherproof units are harder to find

There’s also the risk of water damage to your clients’ possessions. A portable storage unit can be constructed of many different materials that might not prevent rainwater from entering the container. If clients leave their containers outside their home for too long, they run the risk of their belongings not staying in the same condition they were when they were initially packed.

Some companies offer weatherproof containers, while others only offer units that are weather resistant. The material used in the container’s construction — metal, plastic or wood — will offer different protection levels. This should be made clear on the company’s website to ensure clients get the right amount of protection for their things.

5. Lack of climate control

If the homeowner moves items that could be damaged by temperature extremes, leaving them in portable storage could be a problem. If your clients have valuable possessions and think climate-controlled storage is necessary, you would be much better off advising them to choose a storage facility instead.

6. Watch out for container problems

Your clients should make sure the containers they receive don’t have problems that could cause damage to their property. Ideally, the homeowner should be present when the container is delivered to make sure it’s positioned where they want it. It also helps to check the container’s condition.

If they choose a metal container, customers should check for rust. If there’s rust in the container, it can cause damage to the items stored inside. If it’s made of another material, like wood or canvas, clients look for any holes or gaps that could expose their possessions to damage.

The doors on the unit are another possible problem. If they don’t close properly — or if the hinges or lock don’t work well — it could make items stored in the unit a lot easier to steal. It could also cause damage to the items whenever the container is moved.

7. Choosing the right sized container

Depending on the company, portable storage units are usually offered in a few sizes. Typically, sizes range from 8 to 16 feet long, though the exact size will differ. Customers should check the dimensions before choosing a unit.

Sometimes, clients aren’t sure of the size they need. It’s all too easy to assume that you’ll need less space than you actually do or just go by cost. This could leave them without enough room for everything they need to fit in the unit. A customer service representative should be able to advise the homeowner of the right size for their needs.

8. Make sure to check community rules

Not everyone who is selling their home will be able to use portable storage. Homeowners associations can have rules which prevent residents from having a container on their property.

Even if they are allowed, there could be a permit required or a restriction on the amount of time the container can sit on the property. Sellers need to understand what their situation is before they schedule a delivery.

9. Watch for property damage

You should advise your clients that portable storage units are relatively large and challenging to place on some lots. They often need more space than you might expect. Not to mention, there might be a height restriction, too. In that case, they might be placed on a grassy area, if there isn’t anywhere else that’s suitable (like a driveway).

If the units remain on the grass for more than a few days, they might block the light and cause damage to the grass. The longer the unit is left there, the more likely the grass will die and need to be replaced.

There is also the risk of pests finding their way into the container. The longer the unit remains outside a seller’s home, the greater the chance of problems. Make sure you mention these details to your clients so they can plan accordingly. You don’t want the closing held up when the buyers do their final walkthrough and discover a damaged lawn.

10. Knowing the full costs

When you advise a seller on portable storage, they should be aware of higher costs than the headline prices advertised. The container business will charge for delivery, collection and storage of the unit separately. They could have other fees on top of this as well, like the cost of a padlock. Make sure your clients request a full breakdown of costs before ordering any units.

Homeowners can also be responsible for any damages to the container while it sits on their property — even if it wasn’t their fault. However, moving container companies usually offer additional insurance to cover such liabilities.

The pricing of moving container units can vary quite a bit and depends on many factors. Two important factors are the time of year and the location. Naturally, the cost of renting containers will be lower outside of the peak moving season.

11. Making payments

Like traditional storage units, your clients should be reminded that their possessions can be sold off if they fail to pay. If the unit is stored at the company’s facilities, forgetting to pay the bill could lead to their items being sold.

Final thoughts? Just like knowing how much to tip a mover, a real estate agent should have at least a general understanding of how moving containers work. Whenever renting a moving container, it is wise to advise your clients to plan ahead.

By mapping out a moving strategy, they will be more apt to avoid problems. The less stress your clients will have, the better. Hopefully, you have found this moving container guide to be useful.

Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell homes for the past 33-plus years. He has been a top agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty, which serves many towns across the state of Massachusetts. Check out his blog.

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