Moving house: the process
Moving house is a hassle. But, from working out your budget to hiring expert help, being organised can help make the process go as smoothly as possible.
Taking stress and expense out of moving house starts even before you’ve found the property you want to buy.
Starting the search
Work out what you can afford
Talk to a mortgage broker or lender to get a clear idea of how much you can borrow. Ask them to get that down on paper as a ‘mortgage in principle’. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll get a mortgage, but it’ll help with finding properties and landing the one you want. Estate agents love house hunters who know exactly what they can afford before they start setting up viewings. If they know you’re serious, they’ll give you priority over other buyers.
Set aside a full day to look at several houses. Estate agents will have more time for you on a weekday. Use your phone to take photos or videos as you go – this’ll give you a visual record to reflect on at the end of the day. And set up second viewings for different times of day – it’ll give you a better feel for the area you’re moving to.
Don’t impulse buy
If house hunting isn’t your idea of fun, you might be tempted to go for the first decent place you see. But does it have flaws? They might seem trivial now. But imagine living with them for years.
Negotiate the best price
Do some research before making an offer. How long has the house been on the market? How much have other houses gone for in the area? Websites can tell you this.
Choose the right conveyancer
A conveyancer’s job is to ferret out any hidden problems and make sure the paperwork’s watertight.
You can go with an online conveyancer or a high-street firm. The advantage of online conveyancing is that the whole process happens remotely, which helps keep the costs down. With a high-street firm, you can pop into the office, sign documents and politely put pressure on in person if things are taking too long.
Keeping the process moving
Once you’ve found your home and appointed your conveyancer, the process is all about paperwork.
At this stage, making the time to gather, read, sign and send back documents nice and quickly could make a real difference to your schedule.
If you’re the buyer: get the ball rolling on your mortgage application and house survey as soon as you can. Be ready to transfer your deposit well before you exchange.
If you’re the seller: fill in the property and fittings forms as fully and accurately as you can to cut down on questions the buyer might come back with.
Things that can slow the process down
You’re in a chain
One of the most frustrating things about buying or selling a property is being one in a chain of sales that all need to complete on the same day. While your deal might be motoring along, another could be stalling. There’s not really anything you can do about it, except stay on top of your own process.
The buyer has to find ‘proof of funds’
The buyer will need to prove where their cash is coming from and how they got it. (This could be from another house sale, a mortgage, savings, an inheritance or a gift.)
Someone goes on holiday
Easter, Christmas, summer – at certain times of year, holidays are likely to slow your sale down, especially if you’re in a chain.
There are problems with the title deeds
Every now and then, there’ll be issues with the documents that record the property’s ownership – the ‘title deeds’. They could have got lost, or not been updated after an owner has died. Problems like this are fixable, but take time.
The property is looked after by a management company
If a management company charges a fee for looking after the property, the buyer’s conveyancer will ask for more information. The company will then charge an admin fee for putting this management pack together. If the seller is slow to pay, it could delay things.
The survey or searches throw up problems
It’s amazing what turns up in surveys and searches. Depending on how serious the situation is, the buyer might decide to lower their offer before exchanging contracts. It’s then up to the seller to decide whether they still want to go ahead.
Getting ready to move
Don’t forget to tell everyone your new address. A checklist will help here.
And decide whether you want to pack and move everything to the new house yourself, or get a removals firm involved. If you want professionals on the case, bone up on the firms in your area well ahead of time, and get quotes. That way, you can book one as soon as you know your completion date.
In a nutshell
For many of us, moving house is one of the most stressful things we’ll ever do. Whether you’re trying to find your dream house or speed the conveyancing process along, being organised will help make it that bit easier.