Should I Buy a House or a Flat?
The age-old debate between buying a flat (apartment) and a house continues to be somewhat of a dilemma for homeowners. Each option comes with...
Moving can be both exciting and overwhelming, but with a well-organised plan, you can navigate the process smoothly. In this article, we’ll walk you through the essential tasks you will need to undertake, step by step, to ensure a stress-free move. Click here to download this list as a moving checklist that you can use […]
06 October 2023
Table of Contents
Moving can be both exciting and overwhelming, but with a well-organised plan, you can navigate the process smoothly. In this article, we’ll walk you through the essential tasks you will need to undertake, step by step, to ensure a stress-free move. Click here to download this list as a moving checklist that you can use as you go.
Table of Contents
The first thing to do when you are thinking about moving home is set your long-term goals and reasons for the move. Ask yourself if you really need to move, do some market research to see if it is the right time for you to move and fully understand your objectives, as this will help shape your decisions throughout the process.
Determine your budget and financial plan for the move. Make a list of all costs for buying or renting a new property, not excluding additional selling costs, from mortgage and rent to mortgage fees, stamp duty, moving services, and potential renovations or upgrades.
There is lots of research you can start yourself with online, or, if you prefer, speak to some local estate agents in areas you wish to consider. Gather your research and shortlist some neighbourhoods based on your preferences, such as proximity to work, schools, and amenities.
Once you have a shortlist of areas, you can start to create a list of features you desire in your new home, such as the number of bedrooms, outdoor space, or specific amenities. This will guide your property search, but remember to be flexible with your list and consider dividing your requirements into 2 categories, flexible and non-flexible, so you know in advance which requirements would be deal breakers and which you are prepared to be more flexible on.
Reach out to local estate agents and register your interest in the property market. At this stage, you may be looking to get a few valuations on your current property and get it on the market. Register with big and small agents. The bigger ones will use online portals to advertise, but smaller ones may not, which may put you at an advantage should a property be listed with them. Once registered, agents will keep you updated on available properties that match your criteria.
If selling a property, once you have an offer on your property is the ideal time to view other houses. Many people start viewing before they have an offer on their own home, but bear in mind if you find something you want to make an offer on, the seller may not accept an offer if you are not sold subject to contact on your own property. Arrange as many property viewings as you can to explore all potential homes. Take notes and ask questions during viewings to make informed decisions.
When moving home, you can either contact lenders directly or enlist a mortgage broker to help you find the right mortgage deal. Mortgage advisors have access to the whole of the market, so may get you a better deal than going direct to a lender. You will also need to hire a conveyancer or solicitor to handle the legal aspects of the transaction.
The next step when moving home is to obtain a decision in principle from your chosen mortgage lender. If you are using a broker, they will guide you through the process. The decision in principle, is not a mortgage offer but confirms how much you can borrow, making your property search more focused. Some agents will ask for this when you put an offer on another property. A decision, in principle, is usually valid for 60-90 days, after which time you will need to get another.
Once you’ve found a property, instruct your conveyancer to initiate the legal process. They will perform property searches, handle paperwork and raise any enquiries with the seller’s solicitor. Make sure this is someone who has the capacity to take on your caseload and will communicate well with you during the process to avoid any breakdowns in communication and unnecessary delays during the conveyancing process.
It is important to prepare your financial documentation as early as possible, including bank statements and payslips, as this will be required for the mortgage application. If you are self-employed, you will need 1-3 years of accounts as proof of income.
Once your application has been submitted, you will wait for your mortgage offer from the lender, confirming the loan amount and terms. Your mortgage offer is usually valid for 3-6 months, but if your purchase is delayed, always consult your lender, as they may be able to offer an extension under certain circumstances.
Once your offer is accepted, and you have your mortgage offer, you will need to arrange a property survey to identify any potential issues with the property’s condition. This step is crucial to have evidence to negotiate with the seller on price if any issues are uncovered and also for your own peace of mind. There are 3 main types of survey that we delve into in our What is a Survey blog.
Once your survey is complete and your conveyancer has completed all searches and queries are satisfied, you will need to ensure all documents you need to sign are submitted. Your conveyancer will direct you on signing contracts and legal documents.
Although potential moving dates can be discussed at any time, only when there are no remaining legal queries and negotiations will your conveyancer liaise with your seller and the estate agent to determine an estimated completion date.
Once you have an estimated removal date, you can obtain quotes from removal companies and choose the one that suits your needs and budget. Remember to get several quotes and check what level of service is offered by each company. Also, make sure you fully understand the removal company policy if your moving date changes after a booking is made.
Not only are you responsible for insuring your current home until the moment the sale is completed, but you will be responsible for your new property from the moment of completion. It is wise to secure home insurance for your new property in advance, so you know your property is protected from day one.
You will need to inform utility providers, such as gas and electricity companies of your move and of your new address and arrange for services to be transferred or set up in your new home. For broadband services, this may need to be arranged in advance so installation can be pre-booked.
Create a detailed moving plan, including timelines, packing strategies, and a moving checklist of items to move.
Once your contracts are exchanged, you should confirm your booking with your removal company and confirm the moving date.
You may have collected boxed and packing materials in advance, so you can now start packing non-essential items, labelling and colour-coding boxes for easy unpacking. Keep a box back for essentials and use an essentials checklist to pack these items on moving day.
Set up mail forwarding with your postal service to ensure you receive important correspondence. This can be arranged in advance and can be scheduled for a set amount of time or at least until you have had a chance to change your address with all relevant organisations.
Record utility meter readings before leaving your old property and send these to your utility provider to make sure you don’t get charged for energy you haven’t used.
Where possible, leave appliance manuals and instructions visible for the new occupants.
Conduct a final cleaning of your old property, ensuring it’s in good condition for your buyers. This can be started in the days leading up to the move to save you from rushing around on the day. Work your way through each room using a cleaning checklist.
There is nothing worse than moving into a new home and not being able to find the kettle! If you pack a box of essentials, you’ll be able to find what you need upon arrival at your new home, such as toiletries, important documents, and a change of clothes.
Now it is time to collect keys for your new property from the seller or estate agent and ensure you have access to your new home. Completion usually takes place late morning, so it isn’t unusual for keys to be released in the afternoon.
Congratulations on your new home!
By following this step-by-step checklist, you’ll be well-prepared for a successful and organised move to your new home.
From mortgages and insurance to viewings, offers, exchange and completion, our Buyers’ Guide will take you through everything, step by step, from start to finish.
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