I’m starting a new series of five questions with experts in various fields. Featured today is Jessie Sessions, a Realtor who has helped people on both the East and West coast find their dream homes. She currently resides in sunny Santa Barbara and sells beautiful houses on the ocean – one of which will be my dream house one day. Here are her five tips for moving cross-country.
Become Organized (BO): How do you move a family’s possessions, from furniture to a car, cross-country? (For example, do you hire a moving company for the furniture and a have the car shipped by rail?):
Jessie Sessions (JS): I recommend Amtrak to ship personal belongings, they charge by the pound and my two-bedroom condo was about 500 pounds! Some furniture is shippable via train as well, check with your Amtrak representative to see what you can and can’t ship. Overall, shipping via Amtrak is fairly economical but for larger, heavier items like furniture it makes sense to hire movers to pack and haul the items for you across country. For shipping cars, I highly recommend hiring an automobile-shipping carrier. It usually takes less than 1 week for long-haul trucks to move a car from coast to coast. I personally have shipped 2 vehicles through Philam Transport www.philamtransport.com/.
BO: What is the average timeframe needed to undertake a cross-country move?
JS: A cross-country move takes time. If you have the luxury of time, begin thinking about your move as far as one year in advance and research the area where you’re moving. Planning the logistics of the move will take at least six months. This includes selling or moving from your existing home and taking exploratory trips to your new destination to get acclimated with the area. When you’re unfamiliar with an area, it makes sense to rent in your new city before making the commitment to buy real estate. When you rent, you can learn about your new area and hire a local real estate professional that can familiarize you with the new market.
BO: What are the biggest mistakes people make when moving cross-country?
JS: It makes the most sense to be as familiar as possible with your new destination before making the move – moving without any pre-planning could be considered a mistake. Research the area online and make the trip, or several trips, out to the new location. You want to be comfortable with the local real estate market, the jobs there, the schools, the local economy, the climate, and more!
BO: What is your #1 tip as a realtor to ensure a smooth cross-country move?
JS: Engage in conversations with a local Realtor in your new market prior to making the move. You can ask your hometown Realtor to refer you to someone in your new area. That local Realtor can send you information on your new city before your move so that you are already informed of prices and inventory in your new market. It would be worthwhile to even meet that local Realtor on an exploratory trip to your new destination so that you have a trusted contact to help you when you are ready to buy or rent.
BO: Should people wait until their home is sold before they move across the country?
JS: Yes! Attempting to sell a property on one coast and buy a new property on another coast in a contingent-style sale is very complex. If you can, it is best to sell and close escrow on your current property and rent short-term in your new location. Not only does this reduce the complexity of your transaction but it also allows you time to really find the perfect new home in your new town.
Jessie Sessions is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Santa Barbara, California. She can be reached at 805-709-0904 or firstname.lastname@example.org.