July 13th, 2017
Whether it's for a vacation or a move, packing is rarely on anyone's list of top-ten favorites. If your clients get upset when they get to the hotel and "shipping and handling has caused items to shift" in their suitcases, they're devastated (or angry) when they start unpacking boxes at their new homes and find that items haven't just shifted, they've shattered.
You've been to this rodeo and know what the bucking broncos can do, so sharing your experience with your clients can be a critical component of them not opening "boxes of badness."
Remind them that proper prior preparation is everything - and "everything" doesn't necessarily need to fit in three boxes. Overstuffing a box with sweaters isn't the same as filling it to the flaps with Grandma's fine china. Packing materials are also critical - spending the extra money on bubble wrap can be a game changer. They can also visit their local convenience store and ask the manager for day-old newspaper - some people may balk at wrapping and packing a piece of crystal in newspaper, but ink washes off better than cracks. Also, a good idea is for them to clearly mark boxes with valuables/breakables - not just so the movers know what is fragile, but so your client knows which boxes to open first (see below).
Keep 'em separated
Your clients should keep particularly sentimentally or monetarily valuable (and breakable) items with them or, if possible, stored with a family member or trusted friend. Regardless of a moving company's policies on repair and replacement, nothing can take the place of a family heirloom or a child's first art project.
Eat dessert first
Advise clients to open their "breakable boxes" (see above) first and take a careful accounting of everything. If anything is damaged or broken (and this applies to furniture, as well), they should try to leave the item in the box as it was found and take photos of it before removing it (or the pieces) - being careful not to injure themselves on sharp edges, etc.
If there are impacted items, your clients should contact the moving company as soon as they have opened everything and assessed the damages - they can start with the person who helped arrange for the move and then work their way up the chain of command. Some moving companies will push back if they didn't do the packing - but your clients should remind them that they did do the breaking. Your client may be asked to put a value on the damaged goods/price to repair and that may be sufficient - but another "but": the moving company may send out a specialized appraiser to survey and assess everything. The last things the mover wants to do is to accept responsibility or pay for damages. Your client should be prepared to be asked questions along the lines of, "Was this like this before the move?" and be both honest and firm.
Don't let a bad break ruin your client's move
Moving to a new home should be an exciting time – you can help your clients keep the "good vibes" going by advising them on how to prepare and pack, and what to do if something goes wrong. This is where you always add your most value - and why buyers and sellers should always rely on you, their trusted real estate professional, for advice and insight.