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.

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.

student movers texas

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 Autexas moving tipsstin, 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.

easy moveMoving 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:

  1.  inventory, pack up small items in our reusable packing crates, disassemble, blanket wrap, move and store existing furnishings and accessories from the showcase house
  2.  inventory, move, and unpack all the new furnishings and accessories from our storage warehouse to the showcase house
  3. inventory, pack, and move new furniture and accessories several times as new items went on display
  4. move all the original furniture and accessories out of our storage and back to the showcase house, unpack and reassemble all the items
  5. 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

transportation study austinAs 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)
  • Peer-to-peer
  • 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!

congested roads austin

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 tollway 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.

You can find more on the traffic study here and here.

hand held electronic device rulesHeads up to all the wireless device junkies out there: Austin’s new rules  became effective Jan. 1, 2015, which means using a hand-held electronic device while driving or cycling could cost you a hefty fine of up to $500. In short, hands-free is OK, hand-held is NOT.

Most drivers seem to understand that using hand-held electronic devices while driving is just asking for trouble, and also – with today’s technology – completely unnecessary. The new city ordinance drives home that point.

At Austin-based Elephant Moving and Storage we applaud and fully support the new ordinance. We’ve had these rules as company policy for a long time. Doing otherwise isn’t worth the risk. Our Austin movers strive to be the safest on the road.

An Oct. 24, 2014 press release from the Austin Police Department sums up the ordinance:

“August 28, 2014 the Austin City Council passed an ordinance that prohibits the use of portable electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle or bicycle (Ordinance No. 20140828-041). The new ordinance will go into effect Jan. 1, 2015.

“Unless using a hands-free system such as Bluetooth or headphones, or an affixed GPS system, use of portable devices while moving in a car or on a bike will be a citable offense.

“Portable electronic device means a hand-held, mobile telephone, personal digital assistant, MP3 or other hand-held music player, electronic reading device, laptop computer, pager, broadband personal communication device, GPS or navigation system, electronic gaming device or portable computing device.

“Hand held cell phone use is permitted in the event of an emergency such as calling 9-1-1 or 3-1-1 to report a crime or an accident. Even in an emergency situation, it is best to pull over and come to a complete stop before using or operating any mobile or hand held device.

“Violation of this ordinance will be a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500, beginning in January 2015.”

So, Happy New Year! And welcome to the new rules of the road in Austin.


winter movingWinter is a great time to move!


The rates for winter moving are often cheaper and you will find that you have an easier time renting a moving truck or hiring movers – but you should be aware of potential moving issues so that you can avoid them before they occur. Although the weather in the Austin and Central Texas is typically mild, the occasional winter storm does blow through and can cause delays if you are moving on one of these rare days. If you are moving from Austin or Central TX to another state that generally experiences colder, more severe winter weather you should plan ahead to ensure your journey is a smooth one. Here are some suggestions for moving during the winter.

Get Your New Home Ready for Winter Moving

Before moving day check with your real estate agent or rental property manager to make sure the new place is ready for you on moving day.

  • Make sure you have heat and lights. Don’t forget this one! You need to be sure that your utilities are functional. If possible have the heat, water and electric turned on a couple of days prior to your arrival so that you can make sure everything is functioning and the house is warm when you arrive. While this is a good idea no matter when you move, in the winter it is even more important since the days are much colder and the sun sets earlier. Movers can work when it’s hot or cold, but without lights they won’t be able to get much done.
  • Clear ice/snow from walkways. Make sure your driveway and walkways are clear. If you move locally try to stop by your new home the day before your move so you can check that everything is clear and free of ice. If needed, salt or sand the area. If you are moving out of town and can’t visit your new home prior to the move-in date, have your agent or property manager check the area for you.
  • Check that parking area is clear. Regardless of what season you move you should always make sure there is parking available for your moving truck. This may mean negotiating with your new neighbors, or hiring someone (or doing it yourself) to clear the driveway  or alley of snow.

Moving in winterPrepare Your Old Home

  • Clear snow. Use salt or sand to ensure sidewalks, walkways and driveways are free of ice and snow. Parking area should also be cleared with ample room for movers to maneuver. Check the area on moving day in case it snowed or iced overnight.
  • Protect inside spaces. Use cardboard or plastic sheeting to protect high traffic areas from snow, dirt and water. Tape plastic sheets to the floor or use cardboard for carpeted areas. Experiment first before the movers arrive so that you are sure the coverings are secure and will not come loose and trip up the movers.
  • Keep sand or salt and shovels on hand. Stock up on winter supplies in case your vehicle or the moving truck becomes stuck or it starts to snow. Monitor conditions throughout the day so you can act on any changes as needed.
  • Have hot drinks on hand. Whether you’re moving yourself or hiring movers, make sure you have hot liquids available. Hot chocolate, tea and coffee will be most welcomed by everyone who’s helping with your move. Extra mittens and hats are a good idea, too.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. While this seems like common sense, on moving day you’ll be so wrapped up in the move that you may forget that conditions might change. Check the weather well in advance of moving day, then follow it closely right up until the movers arrive. If there’s a possibility of inclement weather, keep the radio on during the move to ensure you’re receiving the latest updates.

What If a Storm Blows In?

  • Have a back-up plan.If a winter storm is expected on your move date make sure you have a back-up plan in case you need to reschedule your move. If you’ve hired movers check with them to see what their policy is for inclement weather. Some movers are used to winter weather and may not be willing to postpone the move. If the movers do want to postpone, make sure you speak to your real estate agent or landlord to see if you can stay a few extra days. Typically, if you’re not able to move out, no one is able to move in, either. But arrange this ahead of time. If you can’t negotiate extra days, speak to the movers about your options. They may be able to still pick up your things, but not deliver them to your new home. If this is the case you will need short-term storage.
  • Plan your travel route carefully. Know your travel route and make sure you contact the local authorities to determine if highways are open and safe to travel on. Each state or province has a phone number and website to check with regular updates provided. You should also know the location of overnight accommodation in case you need to stop.
  • Get you car serviced and have all the necessary equipment with you. Make sure you have your car winterized, including all fluids topped up, and tires and brakes checked. It’s a good idea to carry chains (if allowed) and know how to put them on quickly. Practice in your garage before you leave. You should also carry a gas can, extra windshield fluid, and salt or kitty litter (works great if you get stuck). Have a good snow shovel, emergency blanket and membership to a roadside assistance service, too.
  • Have an emergency contact list with you. Make sure you have all the necessary phone numbers with you, including roadside assistance, highway patrol and a number for reports on highway conditions. You should also ensure that someone who isn’t moving with you has a copy of your travel plans. Make a call-in schedule with that person so they’ll know where you are and when you should be arriving.

Save money on movesThe # 1 Question – How To Save Money On Moves

A lot of customers have asked how they can save money on moves between Austin and Dallas, Houston or San Antonio. The quotes our sales staff give when they receive a request for moving in Texas between these cities is a price based on an exclusive truck, meaning the movers will arrive at your pickup location on the day you request, load everything you want to move into the truck, drive directly to your delivery address and unload it all when they get there. This is an efficient and convenient way to move between cities on your chosen day without having to wait for your belongings.

In order to save money on a move between Texas cities, you can also look into the option of a shared load. The availability for moving will depend on the schedule and when we will have trucks traveling between the cities you are moving from and to. The cost of a shared load will depend on the size of your shipment, but in general, you can save at least $100-$300 off the quoted price for an exclusive truck, depending on the cities you are moving between. This is a great option for anyone looking to get their move at the cheapest price and who also has some flexibility with the days their shipment can be picked up and delivered. It’s also a great money saving option if you need to move just one (or only a few) item(s) such as a piano.

We Are Flexible

We will do whatever we can to get you the best move at the most economical price! If you are interested in a shared load option when moving between cities in Texas be sure to let your salesperson know so she can check the schedule and let you know what days are available for your desired city. If the ability to schedule your move on a specific date is the most important factor to you then a standard exclusive truck move is your best bet, but if you can be flexible then the shared load option will definitely save you money on your move!