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HOA Board Communications

You’ve surely heard that it’s important to be careful about which HOA business you handle through email. But California has taken restrictions on HOA business conducted via email to a new level. Here, an expert explains California’s new anti–email law and provides three examples of never–handle–this–by–email issues.

Know Your State’s Rule on Email

States may have different rules governing the use of email by an HOA board of directors, so be sure you check with your HOA attorney on state–specific regulations you’ll have to follow. California’s, for instance, just got tighter.

“In California, SB 563 just modified a few provisions of the Davis–Stirling act [the shorthand name for the state’s law governing common interest communities],” explains James R. McCormick Jr., a partner at Peters & Freedman LLP in Encinitas, Calif., who represents associations.

Under the new law, boards can almost never take action without a meeting, says McCormick. “The only time they can take action by email is in an emergency, which is defined in the law as any unforeseen circumstance that requires immediate attention,” he explains. “Then the action must be by unanimous consent by the board, and the consent has to be filed with the action and the minutes. The new rules are very anti–email.”

What NOT to Put in Email

California has obviously made it clear that it wants HOA board actions to be transparent. What if your state doesn’t have such specific rules? Here are three smart rules to follow.

1. Address only easy–to–answer issues, and offer no personal opinions.

“Generally, you should be putting in email only yes and no answers to questions, not things like, ‘I hate that guy,’ says McCormick. “Don’t put anything in an email that you don’t want in the 5 p.m. news. It’s discoverable in litigation, and if there’s a lawsuit on any issue, the other side will discover the email, and you’ll be embarrassed.”

2. Don’t assume minor decisions are fair game.

What if a board member proposes purchasing a $59 coupon for a one–hour consultation with a landscaping expert? Is that such a minor expense that it can be approved by the board through email? “You’re not supposed to do that—in California at least,” says McCormick. “The idea is that there has to be an open meeting which owners can attend, and the board has to make its decisions as transparent as possible. If it’s discussing any item of business over which the board has authority, discussions have to take place at a meeting.”

3. Make sure an email discussion doesn’t lapse into an email decision.

“What if the board makes a decision by email, and an owner says, ‘What’s going on? When did you discuss this because I don’t remember any discussion of this at any board meetings,'” explains McCormick.

You may think there’s no harm in making decisions via email because, after all, will an owner sue over email decision making when everyone uses email today? “If the owner sues, the obvious question is what are the damages?” says McCormick. “Well, if the decision was about a $1 million reconstruction contract, there could be significant damages from making the decision improperly.”


Bay Area: Renting vs Buying

In two-thirds of the nation’s busiest housing markets, it’s more affordable to buy a house than to rent.

But in the Bay Area, that’s hardly the case.

Given the rapid appreciation of home prices here, it’s still a better deal to rent in eight of the region’s nine counties — even with the shocking increases in rents over the past few years. Only in Contra Costa County — where homes remain relatively affordable, especially in inland areas — is it more affordable to buy than rent.

Those are the conclusions of a new report that draws on 2016 fair-market rent data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, along with public records for home sales in 540 U.S. counties. The report does not consider long-term financial advantages of home ownership, only what it takes to cross the first hurdle and simply buy a house.

“Home prices have become so high so quickly in the Bay Area that renting has become a better option,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president of Irvine-based Attom Data Solutions, which analyzed the numbers and wrote the report. “That’s not to say that renting is affordable, but it’s become a more affordable option in most of the Bay Area counties.”

How does he explain the trend?

“Nationally, home prices are consistently outpacing rent growth,” Blomquist said. “Prices for the most part have consistently outpaced wage growth as well during this housing recovery. And we’ve reached a point where that trend has created a sharp divide between the price of homes and what the average wage earner can afford.”

In the Bay Area in 2016, Santa Clara was one of only two counties where wage growth, up 6.8 percent, outpaced home appreciation, up 5.9 percent. (In Napa County, wages were up 5.2 percent, slightly outpacing home-price growth of 5.0 percent.)

But when home prices and wages are examined going back to 2012 — when the housing recovery took off in most of the region — prices get the upper hand, outstripping wages across the nine counties. In Santa Clara County, for instance, home prices have jumped an astounding 92 percent since the first quarter of 2012, while wages have risen just 16 percent. In Contra Costa County, home prices have jumped 113 percent while wages actually fell 4.0 percent.
On top of this, Blomquist added a bleak prediction: “With the prospect of rising interest rates, buying a home is going to become even less affordable than it has been, and I think that’s going to tilt the balance in favor of rent for a lot of people. In the Bay Area, the equation already is favoring renting. But rising interest rates will even further accelerate that trend.”

In fact, rents lately have begun to level off around the Bay Area.

That said, renting still poses a challenge for many wage earners. According to the new report, Marin County is the most rent-challenged county in the United States. The average weekly wage there is $1,243, but the median rent for a three-bedroom home in 2017 is $4,250 — requiring that the typical earner put about 77 percent of his or her gross pay toward rent for a home of that size.

When two or three people rent a home, as would generally be the case, the percentage falls, of course. Still, the numbers are a little unnerving for Bay Area renters.

Good Neighbor Fence Laws

The California Legislature, in its infinite wisdom, recently updated its law regarding “good neighbor” fences, that is, a common fence dividing two properties. The original law had been in place since the 1870s, and simply provided that both owners were mutually responsible for common fences. As a practical matter, if you paid to put up a fence, your neighbor was obligated to reimburse you for one half of the “reasonable cost” of that fence.

The new law creates much more certainty with regard to neighbors’ responsibilities regarding their common fence, and provided some guidance as to what situations might warrant not splitting the cost evenly. However, it also provided for a much more formal process and procedure for erecting a common fence and recovering your half of the cost. Failure to adhere to the letter of the new law could jeopardize your right to recover your half of the cost.

You can see the new law for yourself here.

In short, the new law states that there is a presumption that neighbors equally benefit from a common fence, and that the cost for building or fixing a common fence should be equally shared. It requires that a party intending to build or fix a common fence must first send a notice to their neighbor prior to doing any work. It also lays out the circumstances under which the presumption that both parties equally benefit (and therefore should pay equally) may be overcome.

If you’re going to build or fix a common fence, you have to send your neighbor a notice of your intention to do so at least 30 days before work starts. The notice must include the following information:

You must advise your neighbor that, under California law, “Adjoining landowners are presumed to share an equal benefit from any fence dividing their properties and, unless otherwise agreed to by the parties in a written agreement, shall be presumed to be equally responsible for the reasonable costs of construction, maintenance, or necessary replacement of the fence.”
You also must include a description of the problem with the fence;
Your proposed solution for addressing the problem;
The estimated costs for fixing the problem;
Your proposal for how to split the costs; and
Your proposal for the timeline for getting the problem fixed.
Of course, there are situations where both neighbors do not both equally benefit from a shared fence, and therefore the costs should not be shared equally. The new law provides guidelines for determining where this might be the case. Courts are directed to consider the following in trying to determine if costs should be divided other than equally:

If the financial burden to one neighbor is “substantially disproportionate to the benefit conferred” by the fence;
If the cost of the fence would be greater than the difference in the value of the property;
If the financial burden on one neighbor would “impose an undue financial hardship” on that neighbor;
(If this is the case, the neighbor with the financial hardship will need to give “reasonable proof” of their “financial circumstances.”)
The “reasonableness” of the cost particular project, including:
If the costs of the project are “unnecessary or excessive.”
If the costs of the project are “the result of the landowner’s personal aesthetic, architectural, or other preferences.”
And, of course, a catch-all by which the Court may consider other “equitable factors” appropriate for the specifics of any individual case.
None of the above factors are particularly specific, and are simply guidelines. The Courts are given broad discretion to split the costs of a common fence in essentially any manner that they view as fair. In extreme circumstances, a Court could even order that one party must be responsible for the entirety of the fence project.

Ultimately, while the new process may be a little daunting and incredibly specific, there is nothing in the law that says that you and your neighbor cannot come to an agreement outside of this procedure. (Of course, it is always best to put any agreement in writing.) In most circumstances, friendly neighbors should be able to work out fence problems without the involvement of any lawyers or courts. In rare circumstances where there is something unique about your property, your neighbor won’t agree to split the cost evenly, or you just don’t get along with your neighbor, it may be in your interest to talk about the specifics of your situation and your options with a local attorney. (Just a reminder: initial consultations are always free here at The Law Office of Jason L. Eliaser!) The most practical first step is to simply talk to your neighbor about any fence problems you might have.

Because good fences may make good neighbors, but good communication makes even better neighbors.

How to successfully transition from renter to home owner

Congratulations! You’ve finally reached that point in your life where you plan to be in the same place for longer than a 12-month lease. Instead of making those pesky rent payments on a monthly basis, you want to earn equity each month and eventually end up with a permanent roof over your head. Becoming a home owner is absolutely worth it; but it’s crucial that you are prepared for the differences between renting and being a home owner.

But rent doesn’t simply translate into mortgage payments on a 1:1 ratio — quite a bit more goes into the transition from renter to home owner than you might think, from the upfront costs involved to what happens if your dishwasher malfunctions and spews food-flavored water all over your floor. As you prepare to “pick up the torch” of home ownership, keep these five things in mind, and you’ll be just fine and be stoked you went from a renter to home owner.

Say goodbye to making your security deposit and calling it good. When you buy a house, there are a few different costs that await you. The biggest one (usually, unless you have a zero-down mortgage), which poses one of biggest obstacles for hopeful home buyers, is the down payment. The amount you need depends on your mortgage program, but expect to pay between 3% to 20% of the purchase price of the home. If you don’t have the money for a down payment, there are options to pay much less upfront — sometimes as little as 3% (and sometimes ZERO down) — with private mortgage insurance or a loan through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). These lower down payments, however, make for higher monthly payments and a higher home price overall.

And then there are those dang closing costs, which average about $2,100 on a $200,000 home. These “closing costs” often covers several necessities: home loan origination, title insurance, land surveys (if applicable), home inspection, insurance escrow, appraisal, and more.

Monthly payments go beyond mortgages

Monthly, your mortgage payment can look pretty similar to your rent check. In fact, a recent study found that in the vast majority of states, being a home owner and making a mortgage payment is easier on your pocketbook than renting.

Your home is most likely your largest investment, so you’ll want to protect it with insurance (duh!). Sure, renters’ insurance was “highly recommended,” but homeowners insurance is absolutely necessary to protect your investment, your belongings, and your mortgage. In fact, pretty much all mortgage lenders require it. Don’t worry though, the homeowners insurance payment will be wrapped into your one single mortgage payment.

And lastly, you’ll want to tuck away money each month for property taxes, which is usually a percentage of the assessed value of the land and the structures on it. These rates are highly localized, but the average household pays just over $2,000. Here’s the good news; Although property tax is generally billed by your County on an annual or semiannual basis, your mortgage payment will include enough to put money aside in an escrow account to pay your property taxes automatically when that bill becomes due.

If you don’t have your emergency funds set aside yet, now is the time

Setting aside a good sized “emergency fund” isn’t specific to homeowners, but it’s even more important as a home owner. The bare minimum recommendation is to have at least three months of living expenses to fall back on — rent, food, utilities, and every other expense you have — but six months is better. Some even go so far as to recommend two years’ worth, which is definitely something worth aspiring to, but not an easy task. These funds will protect you in the event of job loss, appliance failure, or major medical bills. Imagine how much less stressful your life would be if you knew that you had 3-6 months of expenses in the bank, just in case something crazy happens!

You are your own maintenance crew

Your maintenance budget now must cover more than lightbulbs and smoke detector batteries. Aside from the emergency funds you’ve saved up, you’ll want to plan on spending at least 1% of the home’s value on maintenance projects each year. When you move in (and pretty regularly after that) take stock of the appliances you have and what kind of shape they’re in to prioritize upgrades and service. When was your furnace last inspected? Is the water heater an original from the 70’s? Price a few out and put that water heater near the top of your list — above, for example, an air conditioner or dishwasher. If unused, this maintenance cash will come in handy for larger projects, such as a roof replacement.

More regular maintenance is required of you as a homeowner, too. That yard you’ve been dreaming about — it needs to be mowed, often. And that means you need to have a lawnmower. Still doesn’t look as naturally manicured as the neighbors’ yard? Pick up a weedwacker to and clean up those edges. Depending on where you live, you’ll also need a rake come fall (and leaf bags or a tarp to move leaves to the curb), and a shovel and de-icer come winter. Plan ahead: You’re going to want that shovel before the snowy December morning you need it.

Your neighbors are forever (or at least for quite a while)

This one is the easiest change to make when going from renter to home owner, and probably one of the most fun. Your neighbors are no longer unseen producers of endless stomping on the other side of your ceiling — they’re your allies in the mission to create a great place to live. You don’t have to bake banana bread before you go, but you should go introduce yourself and get to know them and their lifestyles a little bit (which is a good thing to do even before you buy). Before you deny their requests to turn down your music at 11 pm — or too aggressively ask the same of them — just remember that they’ll still be there the next day. And the day after that.

Moving from renter to home owner can seem daunting and complicated, but if you know what to expect, it’s a much less stressful transition. And if you’re working with professionals in the real estate industry, such as Dustin Brohm, they’ll walk you through the specifics of your situation and get you moving in the right direction.

6 Methods To Get An Affordable Home Without Leaving Your Neighborhood

You love your neighborhood and would never want to live anywhere else — but your home situation is another story. If you want to ditch your rental status for that of homeowner, upgrade from a starter home, live on a less-busy street, or be closer to local restaurants and bars, you might need to find a new home.

Good news! Since you’re already well-acquainted with your neighborhood, you can take advantage of some under-the-radar hacks that can help you find a home for sale in Seattle, WA, or Miami, FL, all within budget, right in your current neighborhood. Here’s how to do it.

1. Tap into your local network

Be the one who gets the scoop on homes that aren’t yet on the market — but might be listed for sale soon. The more connected you are with your neighbors, the more likely that you will find a home in your neighborhood before the rest of the world does. Tell everyone you know that you’re looking and what sort of home you want (in other words, use this time-honored approach: networking).

This method really works; I know from personal experience! I found a home for a friend this way. She mentioned wanting to buy in my neighborhood, and I had just heard about a family who would be moving. A deal was made that benefited both parties. Win-win!

2. Ask your agent about off-market or pocket listings

Getting a house off-market or through a pocket listing gets you into a home before the competition (and bidding wars) begins. “If there are fewer people who know about a house, the selling price will be lower on average over a house that is fully marketed,” says Mark Ferguson, a Greeley, CO, agent. But what exactly are off-market and pocket listings? “A pocket listing is when a listing agent lists a home for sale but may not market it to other agents right away,” says Ferguson. “Off-market is when a home is not listed, but an agent may know it is available, and they tell their buyers about it.” A connected agent should be able to let you know about these types of homes.

3. Keep tabs on recent nearby sales

Besides looking online at homes for sale, look through Trulia’s recently sold homes. That way, you can be better aware of when there are deals to be had. How? People can (and do!) list their homes for what they would like to get. But the real test is what sellers actually get for similar homes. Once you know the selling prices, you can be more confident if you intend to offer lower than the list price.

4. Arrange a home swap

You might have learned this skill as a child when you traded toys with another kid — the same concept can apply to homes. Only with a house swap, you should hire a lawyer to make everything legal. Here’s how it works: If you’re looking to move into a larger home, for example, and you know or have heard about an empty-nest couple looking to downsize, a home swap could be a great solution for both parties. You get to bypass much of the traditional home-selling and buying steps, and closings would happen on the same day. If you’re swapping up for the bigger home, you would pay the difference in value at closing. Moving will be a breeze since you both will be doing so simultaneously — no need to store furniture or rush to find a home to buy after you sell yours.

5. Tap into your inner Sherlock

If you love looking for clues and conducting research, you’re a natural-born detective, which is a great skill to use when combing your neighborhood for a deal. “Novel ways to mine a specific neighborhood for listings and available properties include obituaries and divorces,” says Michael Kelczewski, a Pennsylvania and Delaware real estate agent. If the thought of approaching people during times of stress makes you a bit squeamish, keep in mind that you’re not exactly a stranger swooping in. Since you live in town, you or one of your friends or family members may know the people involved. If so, simply get the word out that if the house will be sold, you’d be interested in buying it. This might be a huge problem solver for everyone.

6. Look into government programs

If you’re a teacher, police officer, firefighter, or an emergency medical technician, you can take advantage of the Good Neighbor Next Door program through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. If you find a home in the program that’s also in your neighborhood, you can buy it at — get this — half-price!

How to Know if a Moving Company Is Legitimate

Don’t let moving scams spoil your next relocation.

While most moving companies in the U.S. are reputable businesses, a few bad apples still remain – along with their victims’ cautionary tales. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a growing number of complaints have been filed against movers lately – many of which are due to the “fraudulent practices… of rogue movers.”

If you’re going to fork over the money for a mover, it’s your responsibility to make sure the moving company is legitimate. After all, moving day is stressful enough without entrusting your precious belongings to the wrong people. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to check out the credibility of a moving company before you even pick up the phone. Here’s how to know if a mover can be trusted with your stuff.

Is the mover properly licensed and insured?

Before hiring a moving company, it’s important to make sure the mover is properly licensed and insured. Thankfully, we’ve done this for you – as every moving company in’s large network of professional movers is required to be licensed and insured. You can find our list of reputable movers in our Moving Company Directory.

It’s important to note that while interstate movers are required to register with the Federal government and can be found in the U.S. DOT system, local movers are only regulated by the state. Every state has their own licensing regulations, so you should read up on your state’s requirements to ensure that your local mover is legitimate.

According to the FMCSA, interstate movers are required by law to offer two types of liability options: Full Value Protection and Released Value. The FMCSA defines these options, below.

  • Full Value Protection: “your mover is liable for the replacement value of lost or damaged goods in your entire shipment…This is the more comprehensive plan available for the protection of your belongings.” The cost of Full Value Protection varies by mover.
  • Released Value Protection: “The most economical protection available is Released Value, since it is offered at no additional charge. However, the protection is minimal. Under this option, the mover assumes liability for no more than 60 cents per pound per article.”

You can read more about the specifics of both options on the FMCSA website. In addition to offering you liability options, your mover must have their own insurance as well. Moving companies should be able to provide you with proof of insurance upon request.

Are there complaints?

As my mother used to say: “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” When you see multiple complaints from customers, take note! This often signals a red flag. You can check for official complaints filed with the FMCSA by clicking on the “reviews” of each moving company listed in our Moving Company Directory.

If you’re embarking on an interstate relocation, you can also check the FMCSA website, directly, for more information on any official complaints. Every interstate moving company should obtain a U.S. DOT number. As part of this system, consumers can now enter the moving company’s number into the FMCSA’s search engine, located under the “Search Movers & Complaint History” website tab. This search tool reveals registered interstate movers’ complaint history (or hopefully, lack thereof).

I also recommend checking the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see any complaints filed against both intrastate and interstate moving companies. The BBB is a non-profit organization helping people find companies they can trust. If a moving company has been accredited by the BBB, it means the movers have met the organization’s accreditation standards.

How are the moving reviews?

When it comes to choosing a trustworthy moving company, checking reviews on’s Moving Company Directory is a good place to start. The directory includes customer reviews for more than 600 moving companies nationwide. For your convenience, our reviews also include: the moving company’s U.S. DOT number, specific moving services, fleet size, Better Business Bureau rating, any official complaints filed with the FMCSA, and whether the moving company has any association with the American Moving & Storage Association.

I also recommend asking your neighbors, friends and family for recommendations. Listen to their personal experiences with various moving companies. Check (a social network for your neighborhood community) to ask neighbors for suggestions. Check Yelp and other review sites – just be aware that the internet is filled with scams and fake reviews.

Did the mover see your things before giving you an estimate?

Moving companies should perform either an in-person inspection or a video survey of your belongings before giving you a quote. Otherwise, you could end up with a bill that far exceeds the original estimate. If they offer to give you a quote over the phone or internet, based on your own account of your household goods, run! This red flag could mean a potential moving scam. Rule of thumb: any company that quotes you a firm price without surveying your things by video or in-person, probably shouldn’t be trusted. To ensure you get the best deal, I recommend comparing at least three or four quotes from various moving companies.

After an inspection, the movers should send you their estimate (and other possible charges) in writing – leaving no unwelcome surprise costs for later. If the moving company’s quote is noticeably more or less expensive than other moving company estimates, this should also be a big red flag.

Are they professional?

Besides the technicalities of licenses and insurance, consumers need to use common sense when hiring a moving company. Be on the lookout for whether or not the movers are true professionals. Do they have a real office and business email address? Is the moving company part of a reputable van line? Are they wearing uniforms and driving professional moving trucks? Have they provided you with an official Bill of Lading? Is the estimate too good to be true? Do they possess an official business license? If your gut tells you something’s off, listen.

Thankfully, there are plenty of reputable movers on – all licensed and insured – available to help you with your relocation experience. Begin your moving company search here, and check out more helpful tips on hiring quality movers for your next relocation!

The 6 Most Popular Questions About eChecks


If you’ve looked at your tenant/homeowner portal and seen the option to make an echeck payment, you might be curious about what exactly that is. This handy guide will help explain the process and illustrate the advantages.


What is an eCheck?

Essentially, an eCheck or electronic check is a form of online payment where money is electronically withdrawn from the payer’s checking account, transferred over the ACH network, and deposited into the payee’s checking account. With an ACH merchant account, a business can withdraw payments for a good or service directly from their customer’s bank account.

How Does Electronic Check Processing Work?

Electronic check processing is somewhat similar to paper check processing, only faster. Instead of a customer manually filling out a paper check and sending it to the business they need to pay, today’s technology allows the process to happen electronically, saving both time as well as paper waste.

Do ACH and EFT mean the same as eCheck?

EFT stands for “Electronic Funds Transfer.”
This all-encompassing term includes many types of financial transfers:

  • Wire transfers
  • Direct deposits
  • Electronic benefits payments
  • ACH disbursements etc.

ACH stands for “Automated Clearing House.”
This is the electronic network used by financial institutions in the United States and provides the infrastructure used by payment processing companies.

The best way to explain the similarities and differences of ACH, EFT and eCheck is that an eCheck is a type of electronic funds transfer (EFT) that uses the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network to process the payment. The money is electronically withdrawn from the payer’s account, sent via the ACH network to the payee’s banking institution, and then electronically deposited into the payee’s account – similar to a paper check, just electronically.


Can eChecks be Used for Recurring Payments?

Absolutely. eChecks are actually one of the most popular types of recurring payments. You might have also heard of the term “recurring ACH payment” which is the same as a recurring eCheck payment. Through your tenant/homeowner portal, you can setup an autopay to deduct the amount of your rent or HOA dues automatically on the 1st of the month. This way, you can set it up once and forget about it.


How Long Does it Take to Clear and Process an Electronic Check (eCheck)?

The eCheck clearing process varies slightly between providers. Generally, funds are verified within 24 to 48 hours of the transaction being initiated.


What is the convenience fee on my portal?

The convenience fee only applies to credit card transactions because the credit card processing company charges a fee for processing. While it is an option, we do not recommend that anyone pay using their credit card as the echeck option is completely free.




Moving 101

Whether you recently purchased a home or signed a lease, you’ve already made it past the hard part — finding a new home. But packing up and settling into your new place isn’t going to be a walk in the park if you’re unprepared.


While moving into a new home is exciting, it’s important to be ready for what can be a perfect storm of last-minute packing, your buddy’s truck breaking down, or hidden costs from a shady moving company.

It’s easy to put off planning your big move, so to help you make this process simple and stress-free, we reached out to the professionals for the best moving tips.


Why is hiring a moving company so important?

“People move an average of once every seven years, whereas a moving company does it every day. Hiring a professional moving company means giving the physical and mental heavy lifting to practiced hands. Professional moving companies know how to properly wrap furniture, how to handle tight stairwells and door frames, and how to properly pack a truck to save the most space and keep the furniture safe during transportation.

“Moving is one of the most stressful things we go through, and hiring a moving company will help ease that stress and it will also save you time, and time is money. Hiring a moving company is also important if you want to minimize effort, maximize efficiency, and move to a new home as seamlessly as possible.

“Renting a truck and recruiting friends is an option for small, local moves but certainly not ideal for long-distance moves, large moves, or family moves. If someone doesn’t have a lot of free time and is unable to move by themselves or with the help of some friends, hiring a moving company is an absolute must.” — Angela Gonzales of Unpakt


What advice do you always give to those starting a move?

“1. Do your research. Take time to do your homework before hiring movers, and don’t be afraid to ask the questions you find most important. What does insurance coverage on your items look like? Are the movers background-checked and drug-tested? Come moving day, you’ll want to ensure you’re protected, and having the right movers can make all the difference.

“2. Book early! To guarantee you have professional movers on the day most convenient to you, we recommend booking two to four weeks in advance.

“3. Find out what your movers cannot move ahead of time. Federal laws ban moving companies from transporting any hazardous materials, including paint, ammunition, and propane, to name a few. This means items that contain gas, such as grills and lawn mowers, are also prohibited and must be moved by the customer. Other items may include food or living things such as plants. By asking ahead of time, you won’t be surprised come moving day.” — Jessy Herman of Two Men and a Truck


What are common mistakes you see people make while moving?

“The number one mistake is not being picky with your mover. That’s right. You have to research the company you are entrusting your belongings to. Check [their] license with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and reputation online as well. Do not sign incomplete paperwork and acquaint yourself with all accessorial charges [you] may incur upon delivery. For example, if movers cannot park near the entrance of your residence and have to carry belongings more than 75 feet, they will charge for that additionally.” — Manuela Irwin of The Moving Blog


What are the major differences between moving families and individuals?

“Moving families and individuals certainly changes the volume of belongings, so it’s even more important to work with a reputable mover that can ensure the safety of all items. Plus, adding children and pets into the mix means parents have even greater responsibility throughout the moving process. The last thing they’ll want to worry about is protecting their fragile belongings or treasured antiques.” — Jack Griffin, CEO and Vice Chairman of the Board at Atlas World Group Inc.


What are some stress-free ways to unpack and settle into a new home?

“1. Start packing as soon as you have your moving date to avoid the mad rush of last-minute packing. This will mitigate the risk of items being damaged or improperly sorted and labeled.

“2. Be prepared with an assortment of boxes, packing supplies, and packing tools. This will ensure everything has a proper place, and you won’t have to waste time and energy thinking about where it will go and how it will be moved.

“3. Make sure you’ve got some old boxes and bags to pack up those items you are purging so they can be swiftly lifted out and off to the secondhand store or recycling depot, or collected by a junk disposal service.

“4. Begin with your storage areas. Anything you haven’t used for a year and cannot guarantee you will need again, and items that have no sentimental value, should be the first to go.

“5. Move on to the rooms you will use infrequently prior to moving day. Box up the items to be transported to your new home, while focusing on “less is more” by setting aside those things you won’t need again.

“6. The last items you pack up prior to your move will be your everyday kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom belongings. Try to consider what may not suit your new home, or furnishings and household things you won’t have room for. These can be part of your purge.” — Anjee Gill of You Move Me