or ASK YOUR PRESSING MOVING QUESTION
QUESTION: Credit History Fix
My husband is in the US Navy and we are
going to be relocating to New London, CT in June 2000. We are really
excited about the possibility of building a log home, however, we
are in the process of having a Chapter 13 discharged in a few
months. Are there any lenders that would even bother with us in the
next year or so?
Thanks so much for any input you may
ANSWER: Setup a Payment Record
You should go ahead and check with the
lenders who specialize in working with people wanting to build their
log home. Get Country's Best Log Homes magazine. I write a
column in the magazine explaining how to get loans for these special
It's harder to get a loan this
year because rates are going up, and lenders are giving better rates
to borrowers who have good credit. You will probably have two
options -- go with a very high interest rate lender now, and
reestablish your payment record over the next two years, and then go
with a more traditional lender at better rates.
As researching zoning, buying land,
preparing drainage, building the log home will be a long
project anyway, I'd strongly recommend you go with the idea of
building a payment history first and waiting, rather than spending
so much extra on interest.
Best, Shari Steiner
QUESTION: Taxes on Home Sale
How do I calculate the taxes that will
result from purchasing a home
of lower price than the sale price of
my current home?
A.McD, Via email
ANSWER: No More Taxes
Alan, You are in luck and should not
have to pay any taxes on selling
your home. Congress changed the rules.
There is now an exemption of tax on
the profits you may make on selling
a home if you lived in the house for at
least two of the last five years.
You can make $250,000 profit if you are
single or $500,000 profit for
a couple. That is not the sale price,
but the difference between your original
purchase basis and the proceeds of the
This tax free deal covers most home
sales. The old rule of having to
trade into a new home of equal value is
no longer necessary to avoid taxes.
QUESTION: Getting Your Money Back
What can i do if my landlord did not
give me my deposit back?
We didn't have a walk thru when I
moved in, and we didn't have a walk thru when I moved out. She just
took the keys and said she would let me know later when I would get
my deposit back.
My landlord is accusing me of
damaging the house that I was renting, but I know for a fact that I
did not damage the house in any way.
What can I do about this
Anna, in California
It would have been great if you had
taken photos of the rooms the day you moved in and the day you moved
Even if you don't have that kind of
evidence, you can still take the landlord to small claims court.
California has laws requiring the landlord to return renters
deposits with a written accounting for any claimed damages.
Sometimes the filing of small claims
court papers is enough of a nudge to get the other side to settle.
You don't need a lawyer because lawyers are not allowed in small
QUESTION: Moving Contract
My husband and I are planning to move
and chose a local mover. They will not provide me with any type of
contract to guarantee our move. They sent me a hand-written letter
stating the date and time they will be at our house to move our
items. Is this a normal practice or should I demand a contract?
ANSWER: No Contract, No Deal
Never make a household move without a
written agreement. Movers have the legal right to hold your
possessions hostage and not off load their truck until you pay what
ever they demand. You have to have an agreement in advance or you a
subject to any demands they make.
The only exception might be hiring a
local guy with a pickup to move a couple of apartment belongings.
Then a verbal contact is all you can get. But, if they are a
licensed moving company, you should have a contract.
Check our section on moving
companies for the three types of contacts that are norm for the
QUESTION: Moving Company or Truck
There is a possibility that I may get
to relocate to Colorado within the
next three months. My company cannot
pay to relocate me (because of the
type of contract I'd be working on). I
don't have a lot of stuff--just
mine and my daughter's bedroom
furniture, clothes, and toys.
My question is this: would it be
better for me to rent a truck and move myself
(I live in Maryland), or just go ahead
and get a moving company to do the job? I'd still have to drive
either way I decide to go (it's a 24-hour trip).
Also, how do moving companies come
up with their rates; is it by weight,
mileage, or both (this is the first
time that I'd have to move by myself,
so I'm not sure about things like
ANSWER: Saving Money
In your interstate move, you should get
binding bids from at
least 3 moving companies because they
will compete now that the law has changed..
Don't plan your move on the weekend
or end of the month since rates
are highest for these busy times. Don't
let the moving company store
your things until you find a place to
live as their storage rates are usually higher than
You should look for a company that
specializes in "less than load" moves
since you do not have a full house of
furniture. Our book explains the 3 types of moving company bids.
If you rent a truck with a hitch to
tow your car, you will likely find your costs are less as you plan
to drive your own car anyway. Have a moving party so friends can
help you pack the truck very tightly so that nothing shifts on the
Moving companies charge by weight.
Our book has pages of tables
showing the average cubic footage and
weight of almost every household
Please let me know what you decide
to do. We would love to have you
take part in our annual nationwide
moving survey so that you can list
your comments, problems and successes.
QUESTION: Self Move OK??
We will be moving from a house in
Georgia/South Carolina to San Diego in the near future. I've heard
pros and cons regarding moving companies... but if I'm on a tight
budget and have 2 cars, which would you suggest: A full service
moving company or renting a truck and doing the move ourselves.
Obviously I would expect the full service movers to be more expense,
but if I consider our time and efforts, I'm thinking it might tip
the scales a bit... especially with 2 cars.
ANSWER: The Cheapest Way
Most truck rental companies have
special low ball rates for their smaller vans. Since you have two
cars to drive to California anyway, check out the cost of renting
two smaller trucks with tow hitches for the cars. Split your
belongings between them. Each of you can drive a truck instead of
the car you would have driven across the country.
If you don't want to deal with the
time and trouble this will entail, consider the full service movers
and the companies that hire college kids and other to drive your
cars for you. Read the moving company cautions in the "Save
Money" answer and our chapter on moving companies before you
sign any contracts.
QUESTION: Picking a Moving
Once you have interviewed the companies
(in our case Allied, Bekins and United) how do you pick the right
company? The estimators are all SALES reps, they'll tell us what we
want to hear and they are not going to say, "oh yeah, our
company has screwed things up in the past." We are really
having a difficult time discerning who is being truthful and who is
giving us the "right" answer. Please advise,
Thanks and regards,
ANSWER: The Sales Pitch
Richard You are right, moving company
"estimators" are really sales people. They say "what
ever is necessary".
You have to get it in writing.
You'll find a complete description of the three types of moving
company contracts in our Steiners Complete How To Move Handbook
(chapter 10). We always go for the Binding Contract since the others
will allow the movers to change their charges before they deliver
your furniture, and you gave to pay what they ask before they
Our book may be in your local
library or you can get a copy at 800-444-2524 extension 1.
QUESTION: Temporary Storage
We moved from the east coast to
California and had to rent
an apartment until we found a suitable
house to buy.
The moving company stored our
furniture for us for two months
before they delivered it to our new
home. We had to pay them cash
even though their charge for this
simple storage was ten times what we could have paid, had we rented
some self storage space.
How can I complain about these
excessive charges and get a refund?
T.J. Los Angeles
ANSWER: What Price Convenience?
The problem is you didn't put your
furniture into self storage yourself.
Yes, storage charges can be what
they want. If you look at your original
contract with the mover you see they
likely have the right to put your stuff in
"temporary" storage, called
SIT, at their rates. As our book cautions,
it is the most expensive storage you
can get. Next time.....
Yes, and most movers demand cash
before they off-load the truck.
They have your goods hostage. It's an
industry tradition, although some will now take credit cards on
delivery. You have to get it in writing before you start.
We know this not a satisfactory
answer for you. They were within their legal rights.
The best tactic to take is to get at
least three written estimates from regular
serviced storage warehouses in your
area, not selfstorage companies.
If the movers rates were really out of
line for the same amount of furniture,
you could pressure them with a letter
and photo copies. The dollar amount they charged may be small in
comparison to how they value their reputation.
Hope this helps,
Clyde and Shari Steiner
QUESTION: Moving with Hi-Tech
Is is safe to pack my computer,
software disks, vcr, and video tapes in a moving van for a trip
across the country in August? I am worried about excessive heat
ANSWER: Packing Tips
The ultimate way to ensure safety of
your computer and disks is to make sure they are insured. Don't rely
on the moving company insurance, it is too little, too late. Add
them to your home owners policy and ask your insurance company what
they will accept as proper packing. They will then have to honor any
claim you may make.
We never worry about the computer
any more than we would about our TV in the truck. Disks and tapes
are different. We wrap in aluminum foil, shinny side out and put
them in a cheap Styrofoam picnic chest.
QUESTION: Temporary Cold Storage
Found your site on the net. Hope you
have the expertise to answer my
question. I am planning a move that may
or may not work out so I don't
want to move everything just yet. I
need to put a lot of stuff in a mini-storage
unit. My question is this: The unit is
unheated, the winters here are
cold (WA state) I need to store a lot
of electronic stuff, both video and
audio, movies, vcr tapes,video games,
units, audio tapes, computer disks,
that kind of thing etc. How can these
be packed to protect them from cold,
or can they be stored for some months
over winter ?
ANSWER: Cold is Good
Cold is not the enemy of electronic
gear... heat is. You should of course
make sure the stuff you store is not
damp so that ice does not form and
expand between parts breaking them. The
only other consideration is to
allow the stuff the hours needed to
come back to room temperature before
plugging in again.
Remember that pro-photographers
freeze their batteries to keep them
in shape and techies have canned freeze
spray they use on chips to isolate
QUESTION: Kids and School
My wife has just gotten a terrific job
offer, but it means we will have to move
the family from Ohio to the New York
area in the middle of the school year.
It would really disrupt our family life
if I stayed here with the our two girls,
aged 8 and 12, and my wife moved to New
York alone. The other possibility would be to take the kids out of
school in mid term, breaking up both their
education and social life.
If we wait until the end of the
school year, My wife's great job offer will disappear and it would
likely take months for her to find a similar opportunity.
Maybe it could take longer. In any case
it would really impact our income.
You can see the dilemma. Any
PS: I am a self employed consultant
and can move fairly easily anytime.
ANSWER: Conventional Wisdom?
Most people try to move to a new
location after school is out.
This is the heavy traffic time of year
when moving companies charge
the highest rates because all their
vans are in demand.
Do the kids benefit from starting in
a new school at the beginning
of the new school year with all the
other local kids?
We don't think so.
All kids have to deal with a slew of
new experiences, make new friends,
and learn new school procedures as the
school year begins.
Our past surveys show that your
children's transition will be easier if they come to the new school
in the middle of the year, because the teachers will have more time
to deal with them as individuals. They will not be just part of the
new term horde that consume a teachers time at the beginning of each
Similarly, your kids will be
celebrities for the rest of the kids in the class.
Other kids will approach them, making
"breaking the ice" an easier process
than it would be if your kids have to
make the first step.
All this points to your family
having the best of all worlds, best job offer,
best income increase, and best
educational and social deal for your children.
Make your move now.
Best luck on your move.
Clyde and Shari Steiner
PS: There is more information on
dealing with your children's concerns on page 18 of our book, Steiners
Complete How To Move Handbook.
See also our chapter on Settling In,
that begins on page 234.
QUESTION: New BIG School
I am 13 years old, but I'd like some
My dad has recently gotten a new job
and we will be moving.
I've went to the same school all my
life and I'll be leaving after graduation.
My class has 11 people in it and we've
been close since Kindergarten. I
will miss them a lot. I am a very shy
person and I don't think that I'll
fit in at the new big school that I'll
be going to. I'm really scared.
Any ideas how to cope??
Also, I have a dog and two kittens
and they've been able to run free
since we live in the country. Now,
where we are moving there won't be as
much room. The place there has
invisible fencing and that will be ok for
the dog. But the kittens have always
stayed in the barn that we have. There
isn't even a shed at the place we are
moving. Where do you think that I
should keep them?? I can't keep them in
the house because....my mom says
so. And my dog will kill them if they
stay in his dog house. Please help!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ANSWER: Adventure can be great!
Thanks for your questions!
Regarding fitting in to a new school
-- almost everyone feels worried
about these changes, no matter what the
size. It happens that when I went
from the 8th to the 9th grade, I was in
the country, and I went from a
class of 5 to a class of 55, and none
of my other classmates were assigned
to the new high school. Even though I'd
known it was going to happen, I
hadn't figured out how to meet people
at the new school or what things
students liked to do there, and I felt
really scared in the beginning.
It turned out people were friendly,
and within two weeks I met a person
I've been best friends with ever since,
BUT I would have been much happier if I'd found out about people
there ahead of time.
You have two big advantages --
you're planning ahead and you already use the web. See if you can
find something about your school-to-be on the web at www.askjeeves.com
or www.snap.com (or your own
favorite megasearch engines) to find clubs for 4-H or other clubs
you already belong
to or are interested in. Once you've
found an interesting site, get in
touch with someone there and tell them
you're looking for a pen pal or
you want to find out what things
they'll want you to do ahead of time.
Regarding your pets -- it sounds
like you've gotten it worked out how
to get your dog to the new location,
and where he will be living. Taking
your kittens will be the problem.
You don't mention if they're very
wild or how old they are, but from
your description, making a long
distance move may be very hard for them.
Since they don't live in the house and
probably aren't used to travelling,
putting them in a box and taking them
with you (and your parents and your
dog) will be tough, because they'll
fight you the whole trip and try to
run away if you open the box to feed
them or clean out the box.
Once they're at the new location,
you may be able to build them their
own "house" outside, but,
again, they'll keep trying to run away, back
to their old home.
It would be better if you could find
out who's going to be moving into
your current home. They may very well
be happy to have a couple of kittens,
who'll keep the farm mouse free in
exchange for love and meals and milk.
Otherwise, maybe some of your friends
there would want them. It might take
a couple of "transplanting"
trips to convince them to live someplace else,
but after a several weeks in a new
place, they should stay. And, if they
run away, it's much easier to find
them... they'll be back in the old home.
QUESTION: No Place to Live
We were were going to close on a house
the day before signing the couple decided that they did not want to
sale. now were out of a place to live. our apartment has already
been rented, all mail forwarded deposits have been made. what can we
ANSWER: Get a Lawyer
See a real estate attorney immediately.
Find one by checking with the local real estate board and in the
yellow pages for real estate transaction specialists. If you're on
good terms with your real estate agent, he or she may have a good
recommendation, HOWEVER, you're going to be threatening to sue for
performance on the sales contract, and your real estate agent may be
afraid you'll include him or her in the suit.
Hopefully, your sales contract does
not contain any wording giving the sellers a contingency right to
kill the deal. Sometimes sellers will insist they must retain such a
right until they find a new home of their own to move into, or until
their daughter gets married and moves on, or who knows... Good real
estate agents don't let their buyers get in to such contracts if
they don't have a deadline for the sellers firm decision. If the
sellers simply said they're not moving, you may not ever be able to
force them to perform, but you can sue for damages.
Meanwhile, move into a motel for a
short while. A strongly worded attorney's letter may be all that's
needed to get the sellers out of their "Sellers Remorse".
If they dig in their heels, you'll have to find some place to rent
while you look for a new home and decide what to do legally. We have
a number of options for finding economical short term housing in our
book, "Steiners Complete How to Move Handbook."
Good luck! Shari Steiner
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