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Hiring a moving company is one of the most important decisions people make when buying or selling a home. Nightmare stories abound about movers that show up hours late, break or lose items, or whose estimates aren’t accurate.

Thankfully, there are things you can do that will increase your chances of finding a reliable moving company while avoiding the bad ones. Here are some key ways to be sure you find the right moving company for you.

Read the reviews. One of the great things about the internet age is that you can find reviews for just about any business. Go to sites like Yelp that review businesses and see what people have to say. Don’t let one bad review turn you off, and consider what reviewers are complaining about because some people are unreasonable.

Get referrals. Referrals are different from reviews because they come from people you know. Perhaps there’s someone who recently moved to your neighborhood, ask them if they recommend their movers. Or maybe a co-worker of yours recently moved. You can also reach out to friends on Facebook. Your local chamber of commerce or the Better Business Bureau are also excellent references.

Get options. Talk to more than one moving company, even if the first one seems perfect. And consider factors beyond pricing—cheapest isn’t always the best. And when discussing cost, ask what factors might change an estimate.

Make a checklist. There are definite warning signs to look for when choosing a mover. First, be sure the company you hire is properly licensed and insured. Don’t take estimates over the phone or via email, there’s no way a mover can give an accurate price without actually looking at your belongings. Poorly maintained websites and an unwillingness to work out a flexible payment plan also are red flags.

Protect your valuables. Even if you’re confident that you’ve found the perfect mover, there are certain things you should move yourself. These include important identification, such as birth certificates, passports and Social Security cards, along with financial information. You also want to move jewelry and other small, expensive items yourself.

Moving is stressful, so be sure to find the right moving company to make the process as smooth as possible.

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