House Hunting

House Hunting: Open Houses

Finding a new home can be a daunting task. Each member of the family has a laundry list of items they’d like and making all of those requests come together in one home can be difficult.  Alas, it’s always possible that perfect house out there!

Thankfully, we have the internet now, which provides amazing ways to see houses available for sale. You can view photos of each room in the home, take virtual tours and many realtors create videos to give you the feeling of walking through the home itself.

Although, that virtual tour isn’t always enough. That’s where open houses come in. They help you better understand the space.  The question is, how do you make the most of going to an open house?  Below, we’ve put together some tips and tricks on how to do that.

 

Finding Open Houses

First, let’s talk about research. Realtor.com has a great search function that can be used to find upcoming open houses in your desired area.  Search by zip code, city or county then select ‘Open House’ within preferences and you instantly have a list of houses that you could visit. The other great thing about this search engine is that it compiles properties from a wide variety of realtors, so there is no need to go from site-to-site to collect all of the information. It’s all in one, easy-to-use spot.

 

Map Your Path

Once you have found several properties that interest you and you’d like to visit in person, create a gameplan. Open houses tend to be on Sundays starting around noon and going until mid-afternoon. Often times, each house is only open for two hours so time management and planning is essential.

Make note of the timing for each house you are interested in, then create a map starting with the house that opens earliest out of your group.  Keep going down the line based on times available and establish how much time you’d like to spend at each location.  If you would like to spend at least a half hour in each, then aim to visit three houses in an afternoon.  Don’t forget to take drive time between locations into account.  Keep in mind, if you miss an open house you can always reach out to the realtor and schedule a private showing.

It’s also a good idea to make note of any questions you have after looking at the homes’ online. If you notice a listing doesn’t have photos of the garage, make a note.

 

Open House Day

Plan in hand, you’re ready to go and find your potential new home! If you have created set times to arrive and leave homes, keep an eye on the time so that you don’t miss out on the other houses you’d like to see.

Make the most of your time at each location. Don’t be shy to asking questions! The realtor is there to help and they are full of information, often times knowing far more than what is published on line.  Trulia has a great list of questions that’s worth checking out.

When visiting each home as a potential buyer you are not obligated to leave any sort of contact information for later. However, if they property catches your eye, be sure to take a card with the realtor’s information. This contact information will come in handy should you have any other further questions and/or you have interest in making an offer.

 

Don’t Forget Etiquette

It’s very easy to get caught up looking at a beautiful home, but make sure that if you want to take any photos you ask the realtor before doing so.  Most times they will say yes, but it is always polite to offer them the option to say no in case the seller has requested no photos.

Also, keep in mind that you are not the only one viewing the home. Any negative comments or notes about the home should be kept to yourself. Sometimes, realtors will wander the house in case visitors have any questions and the last thing they want is to hear negative remarks about their listing. Instead, carry a small notepad with you and make note of any parts of the house that you like or dislike. This will come in handy later once you’ve visited all of the homes and want to discuss.

If there are other groups of buyers in one room, allow them enough time to explore before entering with your group. This is common courtesy that should not be forgotten.

 

Post-Visits

You’re back after your afternoon of viewing potential homes! You’ve got all of your notes and maybe some photos, but what do you do with that information?

First, sort out everything by property and begin reviewing your notes. While you go through all of the information, keep your (family’s) wish list close by for reference. Consider factors like price, upkeep, and location. It will be very hard to find a home with every single feature on your list. Be flexible and prioritize.

If you find yourself with questions about certain properties, reach out to the listing agent directly. If there is a property that you are especially drawn to, set up a follow up private showing. It may just be the home for you.

If you follow the guidelines above, we’re sure you’ll eventually find the home you’re looking for in an stress-free, efficient manner.

How We Care: Protecting Your Items

There are many variables to consider when moving. Who’s going to help me? How will I be transporting my items? How’d I get this couch in here? But, one of the greatest worries customers have when moving, is whether or not their friends, family or movers will take care of their items. College Muscle Movers works hard to train our Muscle Movers in a way that keeps your items as safe as possible, without wasting time.

 

Preparation:

Our Muscle Mover Mentality at College Muscle Movers is, “show you care by how you move.” Each time we bring an employee onto our staff, we make sure they align with our core values and team standards. We then train them in methods that we’ve tested over the 10 years we’ve been in business.

When it comes to a service specifically, we  begin with our Moving Consultants discussing and understanding the details of your move. This ends with a recommendation and explanation as to why we believe it best suits you.. If you would prefer to make your move as affordable as possible, and don’t mind doing a few things yourself, we’ll take that into account.

If you decide to book with us, we send out a confirmation email, which asks you to confirm the details we discussed. We like to be thorough. Two days prior to your service, we give you a call to check-in and double check the details one last time. We know things can change, and we know there’s a lot on your mind. The confirmation call is an opportunity to ask any final questions as well as let us know of any changes to your service that may have came about after you booked it.

 

Execution:

The booking process is all about properly setting your expectations. But, on move day, we seek to exceed your expectations.

From the moment our Muscle Movers leave the warehouse to the moment they drive away, they follow the tried and true College Muscle Movers process. We  always begin with a thorough walkthrough, which allows us to understand where everything is and develop a strategy on how to complete the move as safely and efficiently as possible.

Whether we are providing a Muscle + Truck, Vault, or Labor Only service we promise that our Muscle Movers will always do things the College Muscle Movers’ way. This means proper use of equipment, padding and wrapping items, and properly packing your items into our moving truck.

In doing so, we maintain one of the lowest damage rates in the industry. While most other companies hover around the 25% industry average, we have managed to stay around 1%. Pretty neat to be able to say we are 25 times safer than the average professional moving company.

 

Wrap-up:

At the end of the day, we recognize that it’s your money, time, and items. That’s why we’re diligently working to provide the best moving experience possible!

When your Muscle Movers have finished the service, they check in with you before considering the job done. This is your opportunity to address any comments or concerns that you may have.

Ultimately, we commission our Muscle Movers to “show you care by how you move.” This mentality permeates throughout our company!

How to Stay Green While Moving

Being eco-friendly might seem difficult at times, especially when moving. We’re here to tell you how to both have an excellent moving experience while also limit your carbon footprint. We’ve listed a few of our best tips, and ways to protect the planet in a huge way!

 

 

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse:

When preparing to move, deciding what to bring and what to donate or throw out can be a daunting task. Instead of just bringing all your items to your new home, take a minute to sort through it and decide what’s worth saving. Donate old clothes or basic home items to a local shelter or a non-profit organization, such as Goodwill. Both these places and the environment will benefit greatly from your contribution! When disposing of items be sure to research how to do so properly. Here’s a resource we find helpful. 

 

Biodegradable/Recycled Supplies:

There’s no question that we all buy or re-use some sort of packing material during a move. Making the conscious movement to green-packaging materials can help to significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Such materials could include biodegradable packing peanuts, which are composed of a type of bioplastic, made from vegetable oil to eliminate waste. Another great resource for packing material is Geami paper, which is 100% reusable and recyclable. College Muscle Movers is also currently working to recycle the shrink wrap we use on site to protect items.

 

Eliminate the Boxes:

Along with waste that’s put into landfills, cardboard boxes is one of the largest players. Let’s face it, 27% of all landfill material in the United States comes from cardboard and paper. Traditional cardboard boxes can be great and seem like the cheaper, easier option, but play a negative role in our environment. If you choose to go with this option, then remember to recycle or donate them to others after!

If you want to be a little more eco-conscious, consider options like our durable and convenient Muscle Boxes. In doing so, you can to enjoy the comfort of having them delivered and picked up from your home and feel good knowing you are limiting any negative effects to our planet. Not to mention, options like our Muscle Boxes can be just as inexpensive as the more common cardboard alternative.

 

Moving in the Minnesota Winter

While the Minnesota winter brings beautiful settings and plenty of fun for the family, it can create lots of stress for those moving.  Here at College Muscle Movers, we pride ourselves on our dependability. Any weather condition that Mother Nature throws at us, we will be there to help. But how have we learned to handle the weather?

There are several things that we do to prepare ahead of time and during the move to ensure a smooth, safe move.

 

Clear Paths, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.

A safe path to the truck is most important. If one is not readily availble we will use shovels to clear the way.  Our movers also bring along enough salt for their entire day of moves, just to be safe. As all Minnesotans know, carrying anything (groceries, boxes) on ice is hardly a relaxing experience. Because this process takes time it is always best to be prepared.  Shoveling and salting prior to your mover’s arrival will save you money.

 

 

Protect Your Items. Keep Them Dry.

To protect your items from the elements our movers use extra padding on any items that absolutely cannot get wet and use the shrink wrap generously.  For your bed, our movers always have mattress bags on hand for at a reasonable price, which completely wrap your mattress or box spring and seal to protect them. We like to say mattress bags are the world’s cheapest insurance plan.

 

Protect Your Floors.

Snow and ice, often means wet and muddy shoes/boots. To protect your home we usually use one of two methods. Most commonly, we will lay out a couple moving pads at the front door, remove our shoes, move a handful of items to that area, put our shoes back on then move the items to the truck. Alternatively, we’ll remove our shoes and put them back on for each item. Both solutions add more time, but also mean you won’t need to do as much clean-up after the move.

 

Our Friendly, Neighborhood Operations Specialists.

Finally, our Operations Team is always checking in with our Muscle Movers to ensure that they are prepared for the day.  Whether it be making sure they packed an extra layer of clothing to stay warm or supplying a little extra salt for the day, our goal is to always be ready for whatever weather brings.

While Minnesota doesn’t always make moving easy on us, here at College Muscle Movers we’re always working hard to be prepared for whatever weather comes our way. We hope that this information helps to ease any stress about a winter move and helps to prepare you for the season as well. As is always the case, if you’re concerned about incoming weather on your move day. Don’t hesitate to call us and speak with one of our Moving Consultants or Operations Specialists.

Moving During the Holidays

This time of year is filled warm laughter, playing in the snow, drinking hot chocolate, and cozying up next the fire with a loved one. Sometimes it can be tricky to enjoy these things when moving becomes part of your holiday plans. So, in light of the season of giving, we thought we’d share some tips on how to make your holiday move a little easier.

 

Notification of Address Change

One can easily forget the little things like this between time spent baking cookies and wrapping presents. So, first things first, go online to schedule a change of address with USPS.

As for updating friends and family, do a little bit of multitasking. Send your holiday cards early and include a notification of your new address. No need to send out a separate batch of move announcements.

 

Staying Cheerful

You may not have control over your move date, but don’t let that get you down. There are so many wonderful things to look forward to this time of year. Pack your holiday decorations last, let them be a reminder as you pack. By the time you’ve packed everything else, the holiday decorations will seem like a breeze.

It may be staged, but it looks fun!

Labeled Packing

With the season being so busy, it can be difficult at times to slow down and make sure you do things the proper way. Having a labeling system for your packing will make your moving and unpacking experience much easier, and help you get back to your holiday favorites! We recommend color coding with colored sharpies or duct tape, so you or your moving company can easily place items in their specific room. This will also make your holiday boxes more accessible when its time to redecorate.

 

1 Very Full Truck or 2 Half-Full Trucks?

Recently, we here at College Muscle Movers have come across a variety of estimation situations where a customer has so many items that it might require a second truck. If you have spoken with us before, you know we favor a “better safe than sorry” approach, and subsequently always suggest a second truck in these situations.

And so, we often get asked, “If you think that everything might fit into the one truck, why not just try for that?”  To which we have a few answers.

First and foremost, efficiency.  With two trucks, the movers are able to waste less time trying to make absolutely everything fit and put more focus on the overall move. We’d rather get your move done as quickly as possible than waste time puzzle-piecing your items into the truck.

Secondly, there is a lowered risk of higher costs.  With two trucks, the chance of needing to make a second trip is virtually eliminated.  With one truck if not everything fit and a second trip is required, the time increases greatly and the cost along with it. This is especially likely to happen if there are additional items that were not on the original inventory given. With two trucks, there is plenty of extra space.

Finally, and possibly most important there is an increased amount of item safety.  With more space we can pack your items into our truck with their safety in mind, rather than use of space.  In other words, we always pack your items as safely as possible, but with limited space we may need to prioritize getting it all in one load over the safety of certain items.

So what does this mean for price?

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We hope that this helps in your decision making process when not only considering the logistics of your move, but also the professional moving company you decide to hire.

How to Make Moving Fun!

Make a Playlist

Music makes everything better. Even something that can be as stressful and time-consuming as moving.

Before you start packing, put together a playlist of songs that make you want to move or sing along. When I was young, we’d always pull the boom box out when it was time to clean. There’s nothing quite like vacuuming to Gloria Estefan and Shania Twain. Don’t be afraid to include your guilty pleasures.

Be sure to include everyone in the playlist making process and when you’re running low on ideas, turn to old standards like The Bealtes, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder.

Don’t own enough music to make a playlist? If you’ve got a smart phone, you can download the Spotify app and sign up for a free account. With a free account, you can create playlists. You may not be able to listen to the songs in a particular order, and there may be advertisements every so often, but it gives you access to millions of songs.

 

Reminisce While You Pack

Packing can be a daunting, stressful experience. Start early to give yourself plenty of time to not only go through all your items and throw out the things you no longer need, but so you can also reminisce with friends and family. When you come across old photos, don’t just throw them in a box and move on, take a few minutes to flip through them.

 

Promise Yourself a Reward

We know moving is expensive, but it’s nice to have a little something extra waiting for you at the end (or your children, if you’ve got them). Promise yourself a meal at your favorite restaurant, buy a book to enjoy once you’ve settled in to your new place, or a DVD to watch while you enjoy pizza delivery on your first night.

Give yourself reward to look forward to beyond the relief of being done with the move.

 

Build a Box Fort

Done unpacking? Got kids? Then let them fulfil their dreams of a cardboard castle. Don’t have kids? Who cares! It’ll probably be years before you’ll have so many cardboard boxes at your disposal and you aren’t getting any younger. Maybe it’s a temporary fortress for your cat or dog. Either way, have fun. I know the kid in the picture below did.

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To Rent or Not to Rent

Our services fit into three categories: full service, labor only, and packing.

Of those three options our labor only services are the most versatile. Whether it’s moving items within in your home, loading a truck for a cross-country move or moving locally, our labor only services can work for you. Without the truck, the hourly rate is a bit lower and subsequently, it tends to seem like the more economical option.

That said, the cost difference between labor only and full service may not be as large as you’d expect and when you consider all of the factors associated with the two options. You may even find yourself convinced that the little bit extra in cost is well worth the peace of mind and convenience.

Cost

When comparing full service to labor only, there is the potential to save 10 – 20% in overall cost depending on the size and type of moving vehicle, length of rental, and the need for additional equipment. With our full-service option, all equipment to move your items safely and efficiently is included (dollies, basket trucks and bungee cords). With most truck rentals, no moving equipment is included free of cost.

Winner: Labor Only. Unless you’re needing to keep the truck overnight for some reason. Renting your own truck will almost always be cheaper.

Risk

With decreased cost, comes increased risk. You become responsible for the vehicle and safely driving your items from one location to another to be loaded and unloaded.

Additionally, when renting from U-Haul or Budget a reservation is only an acknowledgement of preference. If they no longer have your requested vehicle type and size when you arrive to pick up your rental, you may end up with a larger truck. This can lead to parking issues, a more stressful driving experience, and, without the proper tie-down materials, can mean a more dangerous situation for your items in transit.

Winner: Full Service. Without any real guarantee, labor only has several risks when compared to a full-service option.

Convenience

With the full-service option, there’s less to keep track of. You place a deposit, reserve time on our calendar and your time is guaranteed. Having that time set aside will give you the peace of mind needed to focus on the other aspects of moving. You no longer need to worry about driving and taking care of the vehicle or your items because our drivers have done tens of thousands of moves with our standard 26’ box trucks.

Winner: Full Service. As you might expect, the slightly more expensive option is the most convenient.

For the sake of understanding, we’ve laid out a price comparison for a move from Richfield to Eagan, based on our average service length of 3.25 hours:

fullvpartial-comparison

In the end, both options have their pros and cons. One is not necessarily better than the other. The best option will vary depending on preference and situation. Our only hope is that with this information you can better evaluate your moving needs and make the decision process as simple and stress free as possible.

Tipping Your Movers

At some point someone decided 15% of the final bill was the appropriate amount to tip a server when dining out. Seeing as we eat out quite a bit more frequently than we hire a moving service, it’s no surprise there isn’t a similar, commonly held belief like this when it comes to tipping movers.

As a rule of thumb, we suggest 5% of the total bill for movers that provide adequate service. With that as a reference point, you might tip 10-15%, if the service was exceptional, and you may decide to forego tipping, if you felt the service was subpar. It’s all pretty simple once you have 5% as a starting point.

 

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How To Tip

When you’re at a restaurant, you have the opportunity to calculate your tip on your own time. You then are able to walk away without interacting with your server again. With movers you are often times handing them cash directly, or writing in a gratuity amount while standing immediately next to them, which can make the exchange seem awkward.

While we can’t speak for all moving companies, our movers are trained to not make any assumptions when it comes to the tip. They may mention that you have the opportunity to write in a gratuity amount on the final paperwork, but you won’t see them lingering or holding a hand out after the paperwork is complete.

If you still feel uncomfortable, you can hand the movers your cash or check tip in an envelope. Our movers are able to accept monetary tips as checks, cash and via credit card.

 

Alternatives

Tipping is NOT a requirement, and money is not the only way to show your appreciation. Some of our movers favorite tips have been mid-service food, or odd, unwanted furniture pieces. Don’t be afraid to offer your movers the TV stand you no longer want.

Additionally, calling the company you booked the service with after your move and sharing positive feedback about the movers can act as a sort of tip. At College Muscle Movers, such a call can mean a Jimmy John’s gift card or similar reward for your movers.

 

If you’re curious how other’s handle tipping their moversApartment Guide conducted a survey among 1,000 adults in the U.S. in 2013 on this topic. Check out the infographic they made with the results below.

 

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Moving Day Survival Kit

There are many things to consider when you’re moving. It’s never as simple as getting your items from one location to another. And, whether you hire professional movers or plan to enlist the help of your friends and family, there’s always the chance that something doesn’t go according to plan.

On top of that, the process can be extremely tiring. You might not want to take the time to dig out your toiletries, you might find yourself easily frustrated when trying to locate your tools to reassemble your bed, and you will almost definitely find that you don’t want to sleep in the clothes you moved in.

To avoid all these troubles, we offer the sage advice of compiling a “Moving Survival Kit’ before your move.

 

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What exactly is a Moving Survival Kit?

It’s all the essential items you might need during or immediately after your move, packed into one box. In most cases, you’ll want to transport it yourself between your old and your new location.

 

What all should I include in my Moving Survival Kit?

 

First Aid

Whenever there are people moving heavy items it’s a good idea to have some first aid readily available. Don’t let an injury turn into a mad dash to find the box with the bandages.

 

Nourishment

During the move, you’re probably going to need a little pick me up. Make some homemade trail mix in some tupperware. We suggest a simple mixture of M&M’s, peanuts and raisins. If you have time, you could also make up some PB&J sandwiches for a mid-move meal.

For your most cost effective beverage option, we suggest packing water bottles. There’s a good chance your new residence has running water. So, why not save the planet from extra plastic in a landfill and save your self a few bucks.

 

Paper Towels

Let’s be honest, no one wants to cook after a long day of moving. You also probably don’t want to go out to eat, which leaves two options: running out to grab fast food or delivery. In the case that you opt for delivery, you’re going to want at least some paper towels.

 

Toilet Paper

You don’t want to be digging through boxes when nature calls, make sure you include a few rolls of toilet paper in your kit.

 

Tools

It can be as simple as a multi-tool or as comprehensive as a portable tool kit. Either way, you’re going to need to get through the packing tape you used on your boxes and you’re going to need someway to reassemble your furniture.

If you don’t want to deal with any disassembly or reassembly, keep College Muscle Movers in mind. We’re willing to help with disassembly and reassembly at no extra cost.

 

Pillows, Blankets & Clothing

At the very least, pack a blanket and pillow for each family member and some comfortable sleeping clothes. The last thing you want to deal with is sleeping in uncomfortable, potentially sweaty clothes with no blanket or pillow. Getting some good rest will make all the difference after a long day.

 

Important Documents

You may not need immediate access to things like your birth certificates or social security cards, but you also probably don’t want to have to go through the process of replacing them. Knowing exactly where they are during the entirety of your move will save you from any potential stress.