Our view of the eclipse in Austin
When it comes to selling residential properties, market research indicates that word choice and phrasing really do matter. While “location, location, location” is still paramount, certain words and phrases can influence both the perceived value of a home and the time it takes to sell, according to research by CoreLogic, Inc.
A CoreLogic analysis looked at more than 1 million single-family transactions that were closed in 2016 nationwide. Days on market is defined as the time between the list date and the date a contract is signed.
Distressed properties, including real-estate owned (REO) and short sales, were excluded from the analysis since they are usually priced lower and tend to sell faster than non-distressed properties.
The researchers used word cloud graphics to show which combinations reduce and which combinations increase the days on the market for a listed property.
For example, “finished basement” and “updated kitchen” help properties sell faster, while “gourmet kitchen,” “two stories,” and “golf course” seem to increase days on the market, perhaps because they suggest premium price.
Similarly, another CoreLogic analysis says word pairings can increase or reduce the perceived value of a listed property. The words should be custom-tailored to the local market. For example, desirable neighborhoods, appealing local attractions, fashionable street names mentioned in the listing can add value,while other choices can reduce the value perceptions.
In addition to careful word pairings, there also is a growing trend toward the appealing story and narrative in describing listed properties. Sellers and their agents sometimes hire professional writers to craft 250-word descriptions that go way beyond the usual “3 bdrm, 2.5 bath, 2-car garage,” etc. Now, it might be something like:
“With magical, embracing arms, this home can whisk you right back to your childhood. Remember racing down the street with your brand new Schwinn bike to be greeted by the smell of bacon frying for your special BLT lunch….”
Marketing experts also recommend throwing around respected brand names, including names of appliances, furniture makers, designers, and architects, to suggest customization, uniqueness, and quality.
So, there you have it. Now, choose your words carefully, and when you’re ready to move within Texas or beyond, choose Elephant Moving & Storage, Austin’s favorite home-grown moving and storage company. #Texasmovers #Austinmovers #Elephantmoving
It hardly seems that long, but sure enough, this July marked 10 years in business for Austin-based Elephant Moving & Storage – our favorite Texas moving and storage company. Happy Birthday to us!
Wow. From just an idea we had to start a small business in Austin, to a moving company that now operates throughout Texas and even beyond, in only 10 years. In case you missed it, here are some highlights from our first decade in business:
- Launched the business in July 2006, handling both local residential and commercial moves;
- Expanded to include moves between the Houston and Austin areas, between San Antonio and Austin, then all of Texas;
- Expanded again to provide interstate moves;
- Added warehouse storage as one of our services, and now manage a facility encompassing 25,000 sq. ft. for both short- and long-term storage;
- Created a dedicated delivery service to handle white-glove and deluxe deliveries of large furniture and appliances for major retailers and e-commerce websites;
- Active members of the Southwest Movers Association, and
- Triple A rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Although we have grown and evolved, one thing hasn’t changed from the first day: we are licensed, bonded and insured. We play by the rules and are proud of it.
To be sure, we’ve had our growing pains — like many successful businesses — but, on balance, we serve our customers well, and we’re proud of the referrals and repeat customers who have helped drive our growth. When we perform below a customer’s expectations we want to hear about it, so we can continue to improve how we operate.
All signs point to continued strong growth for many parts of Texas, and we look forward to being part of it in the years ahead. Our thanks go out to our many friends and customers for your encouragement and support.
Since this is the peak of the moving season, it seems like a good time to talk about movers, compare moving quotes and estimates, and how to compare apples to apples. To keep it relatively simple, we’ll limit our focus to local and intrastate moves. We’ll talk about long-distance/interstate moves in another post.
First of all, realize that the moving business is a highly regulated industry — and for good reason. Individuals and families entrust their valuable property with movers, and unfortunately problems can arise.
That’s why legitimate, professional moving companies, such as Texas-based Elephant Moving & Storage, play by the rules and are fully licensed, bonded and insured. If you get two or three quotes and there is a large disparity, it could be a red flag. The low-ball quote might be from an unlicensed, uninsured and perhaps illegal operator. If something goes wrong, you will have no recourse.
Even if they say they are licensed, they may not be, so be sure to do your homework. Check out the USDOT website (http://www.safersys.org/) to check the status of their license number.
To determine whether an operator is licensed in Texas, visit this website:
Make sure they provide a proposal in writing as well as a contract for service. Pay using a credit card or Paypal account. And, of course, remember if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
So, let’s assume you’ve confirmed that the two or three companies you’re considering are legitimate, professional movers.
How do you compare moving quotes or estimates? Start by determining whether they are actually comparable:
- Estimate or fixed price, there’s a big difference
- Do both take into account the same variables, e.g. same size load, travel time, stairs/elevator, long carry?
- How do the hourly rates compare?
After you’ve determined that the quotes indeed are comparable, then drill down into the details:
- Does the mover charge extra for plastic crates?
- Does it charge more for moving on weekends and holidays?
- Do they charge extra for protective padding and wrapping?
- Do they charge extra for any other services?
Recently, you might have noticed some entrepreneurial storage companies also are offering limited moving services. These companies might be a good fit for folks who are moving/storing just a few items, but beware: these companies only pick up and move what you have ready to be picked up at curbside.
With these companies, any disassembly, power/plumbing disconnects, and in most cases, even moving the items to the outside pickup spot are your responsibility. The moving quotes are low for a reason: very limited service. These companies make their money mainly on the storage fees, and there’s usually a hefty minimum, e.g. four months.
Bottom Line: Know what you really need and get the details before you make a commitment. And be sure you hire a mover that is without a doubt licensed, bonded and insured.
We live in an age of specialization.
When you have an internal plumbing problem, you go to a medical professional. When you have a household plumbing problem, you hire a professional plumber. In other words, we all seek out specialists who are the best at what they do.
It’s a similar story in business. Manufacturers, for example, are best at making stuff. Retailers are best at marketing, merchandising, and sales. Professional movers, like Elephant Moving & Storage are best at logistics – moving office and household furnishings efficiently and carefully from Point A to Point B.
This is why some of the biggest names in retail rely on Elephant Moving & Storage in the Austin and Central Texas area for what the logistics industry calls, “white-glove delivery service.”
When you buy a large piece of furniture or a major appliance in a store or online, it must be delivered and often it must be assembled or installed in your home. And, often, as with mattresses, the item that’s being replaced, must be removed and taken to an appropriate recycling location.
This is way beyond curbside delivery and drop-offs. In many cases, the store or manufacturer requires that the appliance or furniture item be inspected, and if necessary, repaired before it is delivered to the customer. If it can’t be restored to the original condition, the item must be returned to the shipper.
Our professional, trained movers have years of experience doing all this. This is why we’re able to offer white-glove delivery services in addition to our residential and commercial moving services. We’re specialists, and darn proud of it!
If it’s the last week in July, that means it’s moving time for thousands of Texas college students. Moving is never fun or without hassles, but here are a few tips to help minimize the negatives, so you can enjoy the positives of your move.
1. Do your homework. If you’re trying to decide whether to do it yourself or hire a professional moving company, carefully research the costs. After you add the basic cost of renting a truck or trailer, plus insurance, plus gas, plus other fees, you very likely will find that hiring a professional moving company, like Austin’s Elephant Moving & Storage, is only slightly more expensive. And, the additional cost may be offset by fewer hassles and more time to spend with family and friends. You owe it to yourself to at least get the facts.
2. Make a Plan. Make two lists: To-Do, and To-Bring.
3. To-Do is your list of tasks in preparation for the big day; stuff like confirm move-in date/time with the building manager; coordinate schedule with roommate(s); schedule movers or truck/trailer rental; find out the moving day requirements of the apartment building or dorm; schedule utility hook-ups, if necessary.
4. To-Bring is the packing list and inventory of your things. Categorize them according to Critical/Valuables, Necessary/Important, Desirable, and Borderline. Do this list as a draft then review it and eliminate as much as possible. Remember: you’re not leaving civilization, so don’t pack like you are.
5. Start packing. Now, like the supermarket check-out, the question is paper or plastic. Or, more precisely, cardboard boxes or plastic bins. It mainly comes down to personal preference, but if you can’t tell what’s inside just by looking at the container, be sure to color-code them and/or label the containers. Just make sure that the Critical/Valuable items, including documents, medications, electronic devices, etc. stay with you and do not get packed or loaded with other stuff.
6. Storage – For various reasons, students often need storage. Self-storage facilities often fill up quickly, but fortunately for you, Elephant Moving & Storage can accommodate your needs in its large, climate-controlled warehouse.
We offer long-term and short-term storage options in Austin. Our storage warehouse is a great place to stash your things for the summer or a semester abroad. Our crews of experienced professional movers will pick up your things when you need them out and deliver them to wherever you need them, whenever you need them – same room as last year, one a few blocks away, your mom’s house in Houston or a new place in Nashville once you get that post-graduation first job.
Our most popular service for students is pick-up, short-term storage for a few days or weeks, and delivery once you move back in time for fall classes. Our skilled Texas movers wrap all furniture in quilted blankets and prepare a detailed inventory of the items they take.
Once everything is loaded up, you’re done. No need to bother with a trip to a self-storage, no locks, no keys to lose. Our crews will unload shipments into our storage warehouse and package each shipment separately on pallets with shrink-wrap. Accidentally packed your favorite shoes? No problem. You can access your storage items anytime you need. Simply let our office know when you want to come by and our warehouse moving staff will make sure your items are accessible so that you can find what you need.
Everything stored in our secure warehouse facility is always insured at our basic level of $.60 per pound. If you need additional insurance you can insure up to full replacement value for one item, multiple items, or even the whole shipment. Elephant Moving & Storage is licensed, bonded and insured. Our crews of well-trained movers will make your summer storage stint a breeze!
Need a quote? Get your moving and storage estimate now!
Place an order for moving boxes and packing materials now!
Place an order for earth friendly packing crate rental!
June and July are the busiest months for moves and relocation. Planning and preparation are essential. Here is a simple Five-Step Plan for making your move as painless as possible:
1. For any move in Austin, Houston, San Antonio or Central Texas, of course, contact Elephant Moving and Storage. We have the experience, capability, equipment, facilities, and supplies to handle any residential or commercial move in Texas – all at competitive rates and prices. Contact us by phone, e-mail, or our website for more details and to start the process.
2. About 30 days before the actual move, make a checklist and begin scheduling notifications re utility shut-offs and service transfers; mail service; new address notifications; schools; others. Assemble important documents that will be needed in getting settled, such as school vaccination forms, insurance policies, and other documents.
3. About three weeks from your move date, start taking inventory and decide what must be moved, what can be trashed, and what can be given away/sold/recycled. Set aside or begin trashing all the items that will not be moved.
4. About two weeks from moving day, start packing. Label boxes and color code for rooms and priority. If you hire us to pack, we complete the packing in one day, usually the day before the move, sometimes day of, or it could be a couple of days before, depending on your needs. Make sure to maintain control over your small valuables, medications, small electronic devices, including chargers, and critical papers.
5. The week before moving day, make arrangements, if necessary for child care and/or pet care. Consume or give away frozen foods. Confirm payment arrangements with the movers.
One more important point for interstate moving: Interstate moves can be affected by distance, weather, road/traffic conditions, other customers, and various unforeseen circumstances. When you Elephant Moving and Storage, we will give you a “delivery window,” based on your destination and the first available delivery date you provide. For example, average transit time to Florida is 5-7 days; average transit time to New York City is 7-10 days, etc.
Although we aim to deliver as close as possible to the first available date you provide, we do not guarantee delivery dates unless you have contracted for an exclusive truck. The maximum delivery window to any location is 21 days. DOT regulations require that we deliver your belongings within that maximum delivery window. That means that you must be sure to keep with you any critical items that you must have during that maximum 21-day delivery window, and plan accordingly.
We’ll discuss delivery windows again in more detail in a future blog post. Stay tuned…
There are lots more moving and packing tips on the Web, but if you follow these basic steps, you will have a smooth move. Planning and preparation pays off. Last-minute decisions always increase costs and headaches.
For more information and ideas, visit the American Moving and Storage Association at www.moving.org.
Moving is simple. All you need are a couple of big, strong guys and a truck, right?
In reality, moving can be complicated. It demands planning, coordination, the right tools, equipment, supplies, facilities, and most importantly, teamwork. Take, for example, this moving project that we handled recently for a major department store and its interior design firm:
The store wanted to showcase a new collection of home furniture and accessories – about 300 items, both large and small. Rather than simply invite consumers, designers, and other prospective customers to visit a store display, the design firm hired by the store recommended outfitting a real home with hundreds of furnishings and accessories, rotating them over a one-week time span. The store said, “Fine. Make it happen.”
Enter Austin’s Elephant Moving & Storage.
The project required careful planning and coordination. We have the capability to receive shipments via freight and household goods carrier. Our office can coordinate receiving and inspection of large multi-part shipments and store them for as long as needed in our secure warehouse facility.
For this project, our Elephant Moving team was required to:
- inventory, pack up small items in our reusable packing crates, disassemble, blanket wrap, move and store existing furnishings and accessories from the showcase house
- inventory, move, and unpack all the new furnishings and accessories from our storage warehouse to the showcase house
- inventory, pack, and move new furniture and accessories several times as new items went on display
- move all the original furniture and accessories out of our storage and back to the showcase house, unpack and reassemble all the items
- pack up the store’s furniture and accessories and ship out from our warehouse back to their locations.
Altogether, the project required six trips for pick-ups and deliveries (about one a day for a full week), plus packing, unpacking, moving and warehousing, debris removal and disposal – a total of more than 100 worker hours, plus moving crate rentals.
And it all went smoothly, thanks to careful planning, coordination, Elephant’s facilities and capabilities, and teamwork. Everyone was pleased, and we’re already working on the design firm’s next big project.
Moving isn’t simple, but choosing the right commercial moving team can ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. This project showcases all of our services rolled into one job for a single customer, but not every move is as complicated. Elephant Moving & Storage can provide any of these services separately to our customers, as needed.
Whether you need to: receive one item or rent several pallets; store a few pieces or your entire home; just moving, and/or full packing services, Elephant Moving & Storage is well equipped to service all your moving and storage needs on any scale. #texasmovers, #austinmovers, #elephantmoving
As Austin movers, Elephant Moving and Storage knows better than anyone how bad traffic congestion is in Austin. So we were more than a bit surprised, as you might be, too, when a research group ranked Austin at the very top of the list for the availability of innovative technology that helps reduce our dependence on car ownership.
According to a transportation study published recently by the Frontier Group and the TexPIRG Education Fund…
Austin was the only one of 70 American cities that offers all 11 of 11 innovative technologies for reducing the need to own a car. The 11 technology-enabled transportation services are:
- Car-sharing services (3 types)
- Fleet-based round-trip
- Fleet-based one-way
- Ride-sharing services
- Ride-sourcing services
- Taxi-hailing services
- Bike-sharing systems
- Static transit data
- Real-time transit information
- Multi-modal apps
- Virtual ticketing
The study’s authors contend that “Technology-enabled transportation services have the potential to reduce driving and car ownership, especially among young people.” Read the full report at http://www.scribd.com/doc/254699092/Innovative-Transportation-Index.
So, Austin residents get innovative and give up your cars. Then, there will be less traffic and your Austin movers can get their job done faster! Everybody wins!
As anyone who’s driven through Austin can attest, the stretch of I-35 that bisects central Austin is a driver’s nightmare. It’s so bad, the state built a super-fast toll way east of I-35 to lure through-traffic away from the interstate. Now a national study confirms it: the situation is as bad as we thought.
The latest analysis by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the research arm of the American trucking industry, shows that the stretch of I-35 that bisects central Austin ranks as the 10th worst traffic intersection (out of 100 ranked) in the nation.
Why the researchers included that dreaded stretch of highway with 99 other intersections isn’t clear, but we get the point. Just to be correct, the formal name of the study is, “Congestion Impact Analysis of Freight-Significant Highway Locations – 2014.”
Drilling down into the specifics of the report, it shows that from about 1 pm to 8 pm, the average speed of traffic on that part of I-35 is 35 mph or less. During peak rush hour (4-6 pm), the average speed drops to 15 mph or less. And, that’s on a normal day.
Only The Begining
And with Austin’s population expected to grow to almost 885,000 in 2015 and to more than 965,000 by the end of the decade, the traffic congestion is only going to get worse.
At Elephant Moving and Storage, your Austin movers, we do our best to avoid traffic congestion, because time is money – your money. If you’re planning a move, be aware that travel time is a cost. Plan your move to avoid peak traffic routes and times. Be flexible, and let us work with you to schedule your move to minimize the traffic factor.