By the time you enter escrow you should have a moving company lined up to go, especially if you aren't going to store your stuff for a while.
No, not that crew of reluctant rookies hobbled together from among your friends and family.
"Hiring a reputable moving company can make the difference between not getting the truck loaded and a successful, uneventful move," says correspondent Hans Brings, vice president and broker with Coldwell Banker in Waltham, MA.
Also, according to Hans Brings, you should first obtain "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move," a mover's guidebook from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It's online at ProtectYourMove.gov.
The document was written for state-to-state moving, but has information for those moving from any Point A to Point B.
ProtectYourMove.gov also provides links to all states' moving regulations. Read the document before you go shopping for a mover so you know your rights, what questions to ask and what to expect.
"You'll want to take into account how far you're moving (a local move is very different from a cross-country journey), how much you can fit in your own or borrowed vehicles, whether you want to pack items yourself, and whether you are willing and able to do any heavy lifting," Brings says.
"Set a budget for moving costs and determine how much you have to spend on the project. You can save money by moving valuables and other items yourself," Brings says.
Shop around by calling more than just a few licensed companies. Ask questions about each business, the packers and drivers. Make sure each company understands the specifics of your move.
Ask for references and talk to friends, co-workers, and your real estate agent to get recommendations about companies they have worked with in the past.
Avoid fly-by-night companies, movers with unmarked trucks, unlicensed movers and other suspicious characters. Go with your gut. Ignore movers who initiate contact with you, suggests Hans Brings.
To narrow down your choices, ask to have a representative from each company visit your home and give you an estimate. They should understand what they are moving and what they are not moving.
If you have fragile or valuable items, ask about insurance and replacement policies, and make sure each company is aware of any heavy or unwieldy items, such as a grandfather clock or grand piano.
Brings adds, "If you're making a national move, you might want to consider a national carrier that has a presence in both locations. National carriers should be able to provide proof that they are licensed for interstate transport. For local moves, a reputable local company might be your best (and most cost-effective) bet."