Moving to a new home is rarely easy. Packing and unpacking are only part of the hard work. The nitty-gritty details also involve looking for a new house or apartment, finding out about cost of living, jobs, schools, and services in a new locale, and getting rid of household possessions not making the move. Then, there are documents to sign, boxes and tape to buy, and details like turning utilities off and on at the right time. On top of all that is the actual packing, transport, unpacking, and settling in.
However, technology and the Internet are taking a big chunk of effort out of the process of moving, making it a little less painful. Many of the tedious tasks involved in a move are now easier and faster than ever before. Here are five ways new technologies and the Internet are making moving to a new home easier.
Viewing Houses, Apartments, and Neighborhoods Online
Real estate websites like Trullia, Zillow, and Realtor.com have all of their MLS listings and rentals online for easy browsing. Potential houses and apartments can be sorted by zip code, minimum and maximum price, lot size, property type, number of bedrooms and baths, AP number, address, and many other categories. Most listing have extensive photographs of the property and some offer virtual video tours.
Viewing listings online is not a replacement for having a look on the ground when a promising prospect appears, but it makes the process of narrowing down a new address much less time consuming than searching in newspapers and driving around with a real estate agent. After finding a potential home online, meeting the realtor or landlord in person at the property before signing any documents or making any payments greatly reduces the chances of falling victim to an Internet housing scam.
Google Maps and Street View allow real estate buyers and apartment hunters to look at an aerial view of the property, as well as a view of the property from the street. From there, it just takes clicking to travel down the street and have a look around the neighborhood without ever leaving home.
Using Google Map and Street View can provide information on the approximate location of property lot lines, proximity to neighboring houses and businesses, a peek at the backyard from a birds-eye perspective, and a feeling for the general appearance of the neighborhood and street.
Web sites like City-Data.com have a wealth of information on all cities in the United States of interest to people relocating. Just type in the city and view reports on population, demographics, income levels, neighborhoods, crime statistics, housing prices, local news, and photos of the area. Using a site like City-Data in combination with Google Map and Street View provides a comprehensive, virtual picture of new neighborhoods and towns.
Signing Documents Online
Gone are the days of huge stacks of paper, faxing, postage, and trips to the post office or UPS when signing a real estate contract. The reams of paper are rapidly being replace by online document signing services like dotloop.com and DocuSign.com.
Using a service like these, the realtor creates digital copies of all documents and sends them by email to the buyer. The buyer selects a custom digital signature to sign with and simply clicks on the spots where a signature is needed.
Electronic signatures have been valid for real estate transactions in the US for over ten years through the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-Sign Act). Of course, it is a good idea to print out a copy of all electronic documents as a back-up.
Selling Stuff Online
Most moves involve unloading possessions too hard to move or not needed or wanted in the new location. Having a garage sale, heading to the flea market, or transporting car loads of stuff to a charity drop-off site are the traditional ways of disposing of possessions before a move. Now, the Internet makes it easy, and sometimes even profitable, to sell unwanted possessions on sites like Craigslist and eBay.
Posting on Craigslist is free and simple. Scams do happen there, but it is usually easy to spot them, and the site provides information on common scam tactics to be aware of. Legitimate buyers and sellers far outnumber scam artists, and finding a new home for old furniture and household goods is often fast and easy, especially in metropolitan areas.
Besides finding private parties to buy or take away unwanted stuff, Craigslist and similar services are also frequently browsed by commercial operations in the used furniture, antique, and thrift store businesses.
By simply posting some photos of items online, people who are moving can use Internet buy and sell sites to find people and businesses willing to carry the unwanted belongings away, and possibly pay for them.
Researching and Scheduling Moving Companies Online
Many moves require the services of a professional moving company. There are a lot of moving companies out there, and, unfortunately, there are also a lot of scam artists and people without the right equipment, licenses, or insurance. Using the Internet to find a reputable mover requires some caution, because many moving company scams use elaborate websites and sales pitches to build up their image.
Nonetheless, the Internet can be useful for finding, researching, and scheduling a moving company. Before hiring, prospects should be checked out in person and asked for an onsite estimate of moving costs. Licensing information can be found at the government sponsored Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website. The Better Business Bureau also has online search tools for checking on complaints and licensing of moving companies.
Staying Organized with Apps for Moving
A large number of computer applications are available for staying organized, planning, and completing a move. These apps can be downloaded on a smartphone or PC and include packing checklists, inventory spreadsheets, budgeting tools, change of address notification tools, weight calculators, moving company reviews, and more.
Some of the most popular moving apps are the following:
- Suddath’s Moving Guru
Moving will never be easy, but with the use of the Internet and new technologies, it is now easier than ever. As always, I am here for all of your real estate needs. Please feel free to contact me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your Power Is Now to move beyond moving jitters.
Eric Lawrence Frazier, MBA
President and CEO