Move It, Lady!

By Susan M. Galardi - from Dan’s Papers, July 17, 2009

Recently, our family sold our home in East Hampton and bought a new home in North Haven. We closed on the sale at 11a.m., closed on the purchase the same day at 2p.m. (I think that probably accounts for 20% of the real estate transactions in the Hamptons for July.) To make that happen in just five hours took a tremendous amount of planning and coordination. Bringing together two sets of buyers and two sets of sellers, four sets of lawyers, bank attorneys, mortgage people, those mysterious title people, and insurance companies was nothing short of a miracle (especially since proceeds from the morning sale would be used in the afternoon purchase). Thankfully, we have a professional in the family – my partner, Beth troy, a real estate agent at town & country, hand – held both deals for two months and walked both to the tables. She deserves to be sainted.

And there was more – closing and opening accounts with Lipa, cablevision, water, gas, oil, security – plus coordinating an electrician and plumber with movers, to relocate the washer and dryer.

After the two closings, we were spent. With weekly stories about deals that fall apart at the last minute for reasons ranging from mortgage falling though to the mysterious disappearance of a bathroom cabinet on the walkthrough. So, we were on pins and needles until both deals closed and we could sigh ourselves into a heap. But of course, it wasn’t over. We scheduled the movers for 8a.m. for the next morning ( our buyers were kind enough to give us 24hours to move – a gracious and generous offer ).

Anyone who has ever gone through a move knows how stressful it can be. Our first move out here from the city to our weekend house went pretty well. We hired a big moving company, where one person negotiated the move, and others did the heavy lifting. We did the packing: they did the loading and schlepping. The actual movers were professional, good natured, on time, on the right date and we lucked out with a 60 degree day in January. They did the move wearing shorts.

Six years later, our big move from the city to live out east permanently was a disaster. The small independent moving company did the packing. The city end was okay – until one of the movers crashed a bed frame runner into an irreplaceable deco chandelier. But on the Hamptons end, it was a cold, sloppy, December day, moving in the dark with very disgruntled movers ( one actually swung a hammer towards his boss, whom he felt underestimated the job). Once they were finished, at around 11p.m., we were relieved to see them go – but alas, there truck wouldn’t start. We were very nice people, but told them to wait in the damn truck and gave them numbers of road service companies.

But we were in our house, and put all that behind us. Because we had already lived there, it was not too overwhelming.

This last move was different. Enormous, full contents of a four – bedroom house. Our son’s toys alone had to have been 30 boxes. My partner and I chose to do the packing ourselves, which began as soon as we had offer and acceptance on both transactions – about two months out.  Wrap, pack, tape. Wrap, pack, tape. But we knew that having the movers do the packing would have cost much more than we wanted to pay. All we needed now were movers who were careful, polite and efficient – not to mention, reasonable. After getting a few bids, we decided to go with MJ Moving & Storage for a few reasons. One, they had did the move here at Dan’s Papers, and came highly recommended – you can’t beat personal references. Two, we met the owner, Michael J Lupia, and got a good “vibe” from him. ( Lupia has owned MJ Moving for ten years, but is third generation in the moving business. And it showed.) Third MJ does not do estimates (guesstimates) – they give you flat rate price in writing on a contract that they stick to. This of course was a biggie for us. With closing costs for two deals in the tens of thousands, we wanted to be as clear as possible on all expenses. And MJ’s proposal was very reasonable. And forth, despite our other experience, we still liked the idea of seeing the guy we negotiated with on moving day, all day.

The move went well. Nothing broken. Everything timed out. MJ cooperated with the electrician and plumber, moving the washer dryer as soon as requested. It all came in unscathed – the piano, the eighteenth century Dutch linen press, the 300lb Italian table top, the parade of paintings and huge photographs, and all 30 boxes of toys, with not one action figure missing so much as a limb.

But for us, what’s equally important is the attitude of the movers. Let’s face it: you spend a long day with these guys, in and out of your home with prized possessions. Even when everyone was tired, Lupia and his team were polite, professional, and just plain NICE. At about 9 p.m., in the final hours of a 12 hour move, one MJ employee was putting together a bookcase in our son’s room. He barraged the young mover with questions and asked if he could help with the screwdriver. The well - spoken young man doing the job took the time to show a six – year old how it was done. A class act.

It may sound like a trifle, but I’ve found that the bigger the life changes, the more important the little things become.

Tips from the Pros

After our move, I asked Michael J Lupia of MJ Moving what we could’ve done differently to make the move go even smoother, especially since we did the packing. Here were his recommendations:

Label like crazy: When furniture and boxes are clearly labeled as to where they go, it really speeds things up. You won’t be called every ten seconds to direct traffic; or worse, have to open boxes to find out what’s inside; or worse, have everything put on one floor, all for you to move later. Also, you can unpack as the boxes are brought to you.

Use the right boxes: Don’t fill a huge, lightweight box with books. Bigger boxes are good for light things – clothes, pillows, towels. Use sturdy, small or midsize boxes for heavy items.

Fill the boxes: They will be stacked, and partially filled boxes tend to crush. Fill out the volume with paper or bubble wrap.

Get packing! Other than a few last minute essentials, don’t wait until moving day to do your packing. That will assure stress and chaos.

Plan ahead: Call a mover a soon as you have a tentative moving date and get penciled in.

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