Deciding to move home is a big decision and involves a whole series of steps, from thinking about moving, to settling into your new home. To help you navigate this journey smoothly, we’ve created a comprehensive step-by-step guide to moving home, that takes you through all the steps to ensure you’re well-prepared at every stage.
Before diving into the process, assess your motivations for selling. Consider your long-term goals, financial situation, the costs of selling and the current state of the property market.
Remember, the running costs of your new home may differ from that of your current property, especially if it is a bigger or older house.
Review your financial situation and calculate the equity in your current home and how much you will have left if you pay off your current mortgage balance. Check with your lender if you have any early repayment penalties attached to your current mortgage product as these can range from around 1.5% to more than 3.5% of the mortgage balance.
Determine how much you can afford to spend on a new property. To remind yourself of the mortgage application process take a look at our guide to mortgages.
Having your property professionally valued gives you an accurate idea of its market worth. However, it is wise to get several valuations as they can widely differ.
You can also do your own research online by looking at similar properties in the nearby area that have recently sold. You can find more tips on researching the market in our blog on whether now is a good time to move house.
Once you have decided you would like to buy a new property, consult with a mortgage advisor to understand your options and get pre-approved for a mortgage. Some brokers charge a fee and others are free, but many offer a free initial call.
By talking your plans through with an advisor, you will be able to understand the interest rates available, what options are available to you and fully understand your affordability, including any financial commitments. To book a free call with a certified broker visit out partner page.
If you are thinking about getting a new mortgage you will want to check with your lender when your current deal ends and if you have any early repayment fees. The main benefit of starting a new product is that you could benefit from a better interest rate with a new lender, or even with the same lender in some cases.
If you’re keeping the same lender, learn how to port your mortgage to your new property. If you are taking out a bigger loan there also may be the option of porting your current mortgage and taking out a new loan on the difference. So if you have a mortgage for £100k and you want to take an additional £100k, you would have 2 products active on different interest rates.
Top tip: When you ask your lender to “port” your mortgage, you effectively have to reapply to borrow the money again, which means a change in personal circumstances or lending checks may mean you may or may not be approved to borrow more money.
So now you know what your home is worth and how much you can afford, you can start to think about selling your property. At this point, start to consider which agent you want to sell with and how you plan to showcase your property effectively, such as decluttering and staging, all of which we cover in more detail in steps 14 and 15.
Based on what you can afford, you may have found that your ideal location may be out of reach or you may have decided you need to be close to a certain school or workplace. Explore all potential neighbourhoods for your new home, considering factors like schools, amenities, and safety. If possible, visit the areas to get a feel for the neighbourhoods.
Top tip: Local Authority Development Plans are a good way to find out the level of investment that is planned for the area.
One way to find out more about an area is to get to know the local estate agents and ask questions. Questions you can ask include:
1. What local amenities are in the area?
2. What are the local transport links like?
3. Are the local schools good and are they oversubscribed?
4. Are there any plans for investment in the area?
In some situations, renting is a good option instead of buying a new home straight away. Evaluate the pros and cons of renting versus buying a new property.
● Less pressure to find a new home
● More flexibility in the time you take to sell your home
● The chance to wait for your ideal property to come on the market
● It may put you in a strong position when buying your new home
● More expense in the short term
● A greater number of home moves
● In the time you rent, the market may change and you may not get as good
a deal on your new mortgage
Ensure you have an Energy Performance Certificate for your property, as it’s legally required for selling. An EPC needs renewing every 10 years, so it may be the case that you already have one, but it is always best to check. The EPC will rate your property in terms of energy efficiency, and the report will make suggestions on how to improve efficiency. Find out how much an EPC will cost in our costs of selling a house blog.
Before putting your home on the market, gather essential documents related to your property, including deeds, insurance records, and utility bills. If you have replaced windows and doors, dig out the FENSA certificate and if you have had an extension make sure you can locate the planning documentation as this will be needed further down the line.
Determine your selling price based on the property’s value, market conditions, and your financial goals. Deciding what to sell your property for is often the most difficult things to do when selling your home. Doing research on the local market online will help. Look at similar properties, in a similar condition that have sold recently.
Get several valuations from estate agents and do not necessarily be swayed with the highest, as this is not necessarily what can be achieved. According to Zoopla, sellers in June 2023 were accepting offers at 3.8% below asking price on average.
Top tip: Online valuations can give you an idea of the value of your property, but this data can be inaccurate and should only be used as an initial guide to how much your property may be worth.
Staging your home can not only increase the value of your property but it can help you achieve a higher asking price by making your home more appealing to buyers. Make necessary repairs, declutter, and enhance your property’s appeal to potential buyers.
Staging doesn’t have to be expensive. A fresh lick of paint, and luxurious accessories like cushions and rugs can make a big difference to the look and feel of a room and decluttering can make a room feel bigger.
While there is no legal requirement to use an estate agent to sell your home, most people do so due to their experience, potential buyer list, knowledge of the local market and to have someone else manage the process. Select an experienced and reputable estate agent to assist you in marketing and selling your property and don’t just go with the highest valuation.
Top tip: Rather than be swayed by the highest valuation, ask the agent how they will market your property, what they have recently sold in the area and who they have on their client list who may be interested in your property.
In short, yes you do need a conveyancer to handle the legal side of the sale. Hire a conveyancer or solicitor who you are sure has the capacity to take on your sale and who will communicate effectively with you.
It is wise to get several quotes and find out about the fee structure for each company to fully understand what you will be charged for upfront and if there are likely to be any additional costs including disbursements . To find out more about what to expect during the conveyancing process, have a read of our blog on the stages of the conveyancing process.
Your estate agent or conveyancer will send you the relevant forms to fill in, but make sure you complete all necessary paperwork, including the Property Information Form and Fittings and Contents Form.
When you get an offer on your property it can be both exciting and confusing. You may not have any other offers, your property may have only been on the market for a few days. Do you accept? Do you hold out for a better offer? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but the main thing is to review and negotiate offers from potential buyers until you accept one.
Remember, the sale of your property is a business transaction, so make sure you consider all reasonable offers before making a decision.
If you’re buying a new home, attend viewings and ask the right questions to make an informed decision. For more tips on what to ask when viewing a property, check out our 25 must ask viewing questions blog. Examples of questions you can ask sellers are:
Arrange a second viewing of your chosen property to ensure it meets your needs. This can be straight away, if you are not sure about putting an offer in, or once you have received the surveyor’s report, to investigate issues in more detail. Sellers should be accommodating should you request a second viewing.
There are several things you will need to negotiate and your conveyancer will help you with this. Work with your conveyancer to negotiate the sale contract, including any conditions and deadlines, what fixtures and fittings will be included in the sale and any price adjustments or proposals resulting from the survey report.
The number of properties related to the sale is called a chain. There could be several buyers and sellers in each chain. The bigger the chain, the more likely delays will arise. However, there are steps you can take to ensure the chain is managed effectively. Stay organised and follow up with all parties involved to ensure a smooth process.
It is always good to choose a recommended removal company, but good research will enable you to find local companies with good reviews. Get several quotes and hire a reputable moving company for a stress-free relocation.
When getting quotes, as well as asking about costs, ask about the level of service (do they pack everything?) and if you can change the date easily in case unexpected delays arise.
Once contracts are exchanged the sale is legally binding and legal action can be taken if you pull out. Contracts are exchanged with the buyer and set a completion date for the sale, usually within 1-2 weeks. Always ensure your house insurance is still active during this time as the property is still your responsibility until completion.
You can start to get ready for your move ahead of exchange, but now is the time to get everything else in place. To help you plan for the move effectively, read our article on things to do when moving house. If you haven’t already, its is a good idea to:
Top tip: Labelling your boxes by items and by room, or ven colour coding, can be a great way to reduce time on moving day. Also have a box of essentials kept separately that you can access easily on moving day. Click here for a full essentials checklist.
One of the best ways to declutter your belongings is to start room by room, make a list of your belongings and decide what to keep, if anything can be recycled or given to charity and what to get rid of. Streamlining your possessions ahead of the move will make the move a lot more manageable.
It is always wise to document your main belongings for insurance purposes and an organised move. By creating a list, you will be able to check if anything is missing once you have unpacked.
Use packing tips and checklists to pack efficiently and safely. You can make your own or, if you want them already done for you, take a look at our moving checklist, essentials checklist, cleaning checklist and address change checklist.
So that you are not left without anything when you move in, think about preparing essentials for moving day, including important documents and personal items. Items include toilet paper, food and tea bags so you can have a well deserved brew. Don’t forget to make the kettle accessible!
Following a comprehensive checklist will ensure you have a successful and moving day that is a lot less stressful. The main things to consider are making sure metre readings are taken, making sure the property is secure before you hand the keys to the estate agent and then, when you get to the new property, making sure the utilities are working and switched on. Click here for a detailed moving checklist.
The sale completes when your conveyancer sends the funds for the mortgage redemption figure (amount you owe) to be paid off to your lender and the conveyancer and agent take their fees. You will then get the keys to your new home.
On the day of completion, the money is transferred and any deeds for the property are transferred between each side’s solicitor or conveyancer. Your solicitor/conveyancer will then register the transfer of ownership with the Land Registry within 30 days of completion.
You don’t have to wait until completion to move out of your property, but make sure your home is still insured until completion. Leave your old property in good condition and transition to your new home.
Things to remember on moving day:
Also If you have pets, arrange for someone to look after your pets on moving day so they don’t sense the stress of the moving process so your pets also have a smooth moving experience and settle into their new home quickly.
It is wise to plan for all the costs associated with moving as early as possible. Many of these are covered in more detail in our cost of moving house article. Within your budget, don’t forget to include things like:
To make your move as stress-free as possible and to avoid unexpected costs that may come as a surprise, plan and manage your finances from early on in the process for a smooth move. You can easily create a moving budget planner to list your bills and when they need to be paid or, if you want one already done for you, download our Propertyable moving budget planner.
Once you have found the kettle, had a well-deserved brew and started to unpack, you need to start thinking about the life admin that you need to tackle. This includes contacting the energy companies and changing your address to your new home. Don’t forget things like your bank, workplace, drivers licence and even gym. For a full list see our address change checklist.
It may be that you want to transfer old subscriptions to your new address, but while you are reviewing them, this may be a good time to review and cancel any subscriptions you no longer require.
Once you move, if you haven’t already, you can start to inform friends, family and organisations of your updated contact information. After notifying individuals and organisations of your address change, follow up to ensure the update is complete. Confirm that your new address is reflected accurately in their records.
Additionally, request confirmation letters or email responses when applicable to have a written record of the change.
Expect the unexpected. It is possible to plan every detail down to the letter, from moving costs to living expenses once you have moved. Despite meticulous planning, unforeseen challenges can arise during a move. Stay adaptable and keep a positive attitude. Remember that minor hiccups are a part of the process, and they will eventually be resolved.
Top tip: Remember, communication from all parties is key to a smooth transition. If you are not getting the right level of communication, do not be scared to ask questions of the party involved.
Selling a house can be a complex process, but with this step-by-step guide and toolkit, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate each step with ease.
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