Posted on 12. August 2011 11:24 by qmbadreb

 

Rogue movers want to take you and your belongings for a ride.

Peak moving season, Memorial Day to Labor Day, is underway. It's the period when more than half the nation's millions of households move every year and need moving services.

Fly-by-night rogues know the season well and are out in force making their own moves.

Rogue movers attempt to put the moves on financially struggling consumers who may have been crushed by the economy, are forced to move, but are short on cash. They are also after those who have to move quickly, for whatever reason, say to take advantage of a new job in another town.

Rogue movers prey on your vulnerabilities, your ignorance and your inability or unwillingness to take time to vet your mover.

Moving experts are warning consumers that disreputable movers often make it their business to lure you with low estimates. Later, those estimates can mount with exorbitant charges and the threat of holding your household goods hostage until you pay what amounts to a steep ransom.

"Anyone with a website can claim to be a mover," said Carl Walter, vice president of Mayflower, one of the nation's oldest and highest rated moving companies.

"It's important to do some homework to avoid falling victim to a scam. There are a number of red flags that make rogue movers stand out, but to recognize them you have to know what to look for ahead of time," Walter said.

Mayflower and others offer these moving tips.

 

  • Get a referral from friends, family, co-workers or others you trust who've recently enjoyed a no-headaches move. You want to vet three moving companies with offices in your area. The best typically have at least a 10-year track record of being in the business.

    The American Moving and Storage Association can help with referrals and J.D. Power and Associates and others rate moving companies.

     

  • Be sure the company is what it says it is. Some crooked movers are "sock puppets" attempting to lure in customers by using names similar to reputable companies. Check the reputable company's website to make sure the local agent is affiliated with the brand name.

    Also check in with your local Better Business Bureau to learn of any complaints.

     

  • Know your rights. If you are moving across state lines visit ProtectYourMove.gov to find out if a mover is licensed for interstate moves by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

    Another red flag is a mover not giving you a copy of "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move," a disclosure brochure created by the FMCSA to outline your rights. Federal law requires movers to give the brochure to customers prior to an interstate move.

     

  • Take no guesstimates. Demand an in-home visit for the estimate. Transportation charges are based on distance and weight of the items to be moved. You can't get an accurate estimate unless the moving company gives your stuff the once over.

     

  • The lowest price isn't always the real deal. Rouge movers typically lowball prices, but later hit customers with unreasonable charges and, in some cases, hold onto belongings until the fees are paid. One estimate substantially lower than others is a big red flag.

    Consumer Reports offers tips and insight on making a move.

     

  • Never pay up front. You should not be required to pay a deposit to have your items moved. Legitimate companies request payment upon delivery.

     

  • Get everything in writing. Ask for the estimate, pickup and delivery dates and other documents in writing.

    "Moving can be a stressful event no matter how well the mover does its job," said Walter.

    "Mayflower understands this and wants to help all consumers who are planning a move to have a better moving experience, regardless of which mover they choose," Walter added.

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    Posted on 12. August 2011 11:17 by qmbadreb

    The adage when it comes to real estate has been "location, location, location." A recent survey, though, shows that lifestyle options are a priority. These include health and safety, access to cultural activities, and family-friendly neighborhoods.

    Of course, location is still important, but today's buyers are looking for a sense of belonging in a community as well as creating a desirable lifestyle with the home they buy.

    More than 1,000 homeowners and future home buyers were surveyed for the Meredith Corp report. The respondents indicated that how satisfied they'll be with the purchase of a new home may depend significantly on the home's surrounding community. About 84 percent of those surveyed were homeowners and an additional 10 percent had plans to buy within three years.

    Here are some of the results. The survey found the following lifestyle options are top priorities for buyers.

       

    • Ease of commuting by car: 38%
    • Access to health and safety services: 34%
    • Family-friendly neighborhood: 33%
    • Availability of retail stores: 32%
    • Access to cultural activities: 21%
    • Public transportation access: 19%
    • Nightlife and restaurant access: 18%
    • Golf-friendly area–access to golf courses: 6%

    If you're a seller what should all this mean to you? It's an opportunity to target buyers based on their interest. Just like businesses need to know who their target market is so that they can build a brand and solicit to those consumers, so too, for sellers.

    If you're selling your home and you know that the above priorities can influence buyers, it only makes sense to play up the lifestyle options that apply to your home.

    Often sellers focus predominantly on their home and the upgrades and amenities. While those features are very important, remember that practically any home can be remodeled. If you're in an excellent location with easy freeway access, on a low traffic street in a friendly neighborhood, or surrounded by retail stores and hot dining spots, it's time to play it up. Those features aren't always easy to find.

    Promote your lifestyle features with not only creative writing in the Multiple Listing Service detailed section, but also in ads with photos. You should also try using video of your home and the surrounding area. These days marketing goes beyond the MLS and glossy flyers. An archived video on the Internet doesn't get tossed in the trash like a piece of paper often does.

    Showcasing your home on social media sites and giving a taste of the neighborhood in a well-produced video can be a fantastic marketing tool. However, don't use a poorly shot video; that may hurt you more than help you. Hiring a videographer or even a video journalist to tell a story about the area is well worth the money you'll spend. This style of storytelling can greatly increase interest in your home and, ultimately, the sales price.

    Another option is to use footage (link or embed the video) from local retail outlets and post it on your social sites so that you can showcase some of the fun, nearby entertainment establishments. Create an album on your social sites so that all these photos, videos, and links to articles are housed in it and then share it with friends. Don't make this album about you and your family in the home. Instead, make it like a review of the area. You are showcasing, through pictures, videos and words, the great places that you enjoyed while living in your home. Putting all these items online gives you greater exposure as people forward them to others.

    Reality TV is popular for a reason; it takes people along for the journey, exposing life as it really is. Showcasing your home, neighborhood, and nearby restaurants allows potential buyers an opportunity to imagine the things that they would do if they lived in your home. We are becoming a very visual society and because so many properties are viewed first, and sometimes only, via the Internet, it's worth making what buyers see online valuable and persuasive. Seeing all that your home and its surrounding area has to offer in a video is as close as they get to actually experiencing it. The next step is literally stepping into your home for a closer look.

    A little extra effort and promotion to highlight what's important to buyers may get you the sale faster and for the price you're hoping for.

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