Planning your big move

Planning your move is the last big task to complete before you own the home you’re buying.

Your purchase contract should specify the date and time that you get the keys and take possession. Usually, this is the day escrow closes, although you and the seller can set another time. Some sellers prefer not to vacate the house until closing day. That means the soonest you can move in is the next day. Before you move in, check the house again for moving damage or uncompleted repairs. (If repairs are uncompleted, your contract should spell out how to resolve this problem.). If the seller needs to occupy the house for a period of time after closing, you should negotiate what is called a seller rent-back in the purchase contract. Most seller rent-backs require the seller to pay the equivalent of the buyer’s monthly mortgage payment.

Obtain estimates from three licensed movers before you make a choice. Have an estimator from each company visit your house to examine the items you’re moving before issuing a quote. Verbal quotes are not binding, so make sure each mover gives you a written estimate. In most cases, you’ll want a “not to exceed” or “best price” estimate. This will limit your moving expense to the amount quoted. If the move ultimately costs less than the estimated amount, you will pay the lower price. Ask about discounts.

Moving is stressful, even when it goes smoothly. Be wary of a bid significantly below all other estimates. A low bid can indicate that someone is trying to buy your business, or it can be a sign of inexperience. You have to trust a stranger with your personal belongings, so make sure you feel confident that you’ll get the level of service you require.

Once your move is finished, you can start the process of settling in. But first, here are some ways to make your move an easy one:

–Sell, donate or throw away possessions you don’t want before you get your estimate.

–Request good-credit letters from your utility companies.

–You can avoid putting down money for deposits if your utility company will notify the new company of your good credit status, or send you a letter of reference. –Start working on your change of address notices. Send them to creditors, magazines, membership organizations, insurance companies and other regular correspondents. You may also want to send notices to your friends and relatives.

–Measure all openings in the house, or space in elevators and stairwells. You want to make sure there’s enough clearance to accommodate your possessions.

–Prepare your own inventory of important possessions. Include box numbers so you can find these items quickly.

–Arrange utilities. Call at least two weeks before your move to have electricity, water, gas or telephone service switched on closing day or the day you move in.

–Arrange contractors. If there is time between your closing and move-in dates, you may want to have carpeting and painting done before you move in the furniture.

–Make a First Night box. Label it prominently and include towels, sheets, blanket, tissues, paper towels, plastic utensils, paper plates and cups, screw driver, hammer, can opener and other essentials.

–Change the locks on your doors. You may or may not choose to do this, but most security experts advise it.

–Save your receipts. You may be able to deduct some of your moving expenses. Consult your tax advisor.

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