The process of selling your home and finding a reliable mover can be as stressful as meeting your potential spouse or starting a new career. It doesn't matter if you're moving a few miles away or a few hours away, you want to hire a moving company that you can trust.  How can you tell the difference between a reliable moving company and a bad one before they start loading your prized possessions on their truck?  These tips from the experts will teach you what to look for when talking to potential moving companies to make selling your home less stressful.

  • Get recommendations for a local mover.  Ask your friends and neighbors who they've used in the past. You may even want to ask your real estate agent for a few names.  While researching movers on the Internet won't hurt, visit nearby movers where you can visit their local office.  Finding a nearby mover gives them the opportunity to do an in-person estimate of how much it'll cost to move your belongings.
  • Conduct a background check on several moving companies.  Verify that they are licensed by checking their U.S. Department of Transportation number (USDOT number). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration assigns one to every moving company.  Professional moving companies will have the license available to show to you.  This also lets you check if they're current with their insurance. Check to see if they belong to the American Moving and Storage Administration (AMSA). If they are a member, it means they follow federal moving and storage regulations.
  • Read moving company reviews online.  Pay attention to how many overall reviews the company has, and if the percentage is skewed more positive or negative. Generally, if the positive ones outweigh the negative, it's a reputable company.  Consider running a search of potential companies through the Better Business Bureau, since any recent complaints will pop up.
  • Get in-house estimates from at least three moving companies. Avoid companies that only want to give you an estimate over the phone quote. An over-the-phone estimate doesn't work because even if you tell someone you live in a three-bedroom house, it doesn't clarify how much furniture or boxes need moving.
  • Show the in-house estimator everything that needs to go, whether it's in the bedrooms, closets, basement, or even the attic. If you suddenly have more stuff on moving day, the estimator can challenge his original quote, if he catches it before packing the truck. While he can't technically force you to pay more, you can't force him to move stuff not listed in the estimate.  Therefore, it's best to be up front early. Include information about your new home as well, such as if it's a narrow street or a two-level home.
  • Compare your estimates, checking for ones that may seem overly high or low. These should be a red flag since your stuff should cost around the same ballpark figure to move. You don't want to pick the cheapest one necessarily, and the high one could be ripping you off.
  • Research what kind of insurance each moving company offers. Generally, the most common plan is the Full Replacement Value Protection Plan, which means if any item is damaged, the movers will repair or replace it with its value.