Even if you’ve been a homeowner for some time, the process of buying and selling your property is always daunting. Maybe you waded through the process so long ago that you’ve forgotten how it works. Or, maybe you’ve never moved before and this is all new to you.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or this is the first time you’re selling a property, our moving house guide will take you through the journey. We’ll tell you how your mortgage could be affected, highlight some things you need to think about, run through the costs of moving house and outline a few, practical moving house tips.
Porting Your Mortgage When Moving House
Many mortgages are “portable”, which means you can transfer your current mortgage product to a new property. You’ll need to check with your lender or broker about whether your mortgage is portable and learn more about the T&Cs that your lender will apply.
If you’re thinking about porting your mortgage, remember:
Sometimes your lender won’t allow you to port your mortgage to a new property, even if it’s possible. This could be for several reasons, for example the lender might find the type of property you want to buy unacceptable
When you ask your lender to "port" your mortgage, you effectively have to reapply for the borrowing. Bear in mind that you may no longer qualify. Your circumstances could be different, you may have a new profession, your outgoings could have increased, or you may have had recent credit problems, etc.
Equally, nothing may have changed for you financially, but your lender may have changed their criteria. In recent years lenders have had to carry out more stringent tests and checks on applications as a result of the 2008 “credit crunch”.
Even if you took out your first mortgage without any hassle, you could still face restrictions the second time around.
- You might not be able to borrow more money
If the lender has tightened their affordability rules then you might not be able to borrow the amount the amount you need. You may need to consider using another lender instead.
- You could end up borrowing at a poor rate of interest
If you can port and are able to borrow more money, don’t forget that you’re tied to a lender already so you’ll have little choice other than to choose the rate your lender offers you. This may not be particularly competitive and could be far from the cheapest available, leaving you stuck paying a higher rate of interest on the extra borrowing.
Moving Home and Getting a New Mortgage
There are a number of options available to you should you need an entirely new mortgage when moving home. However, it’s important that you find out whether you would face an early repayment charge if you chose to leave your current mortgage product before the introductory period ends.
You Could Change Lenders
If you can’t port with your current lender, or they don’t have an alternative deal that’s suitable, then you can look elsewhere.
You Could Switch to a Different Type of Mortgage Product
It’s sometimes worth sticking with the same type of mortgage if that’s what works best for you. However, personal circumstances change. You may find that a different type of rate or term now suits you better. A mortgage adviser will listen to your situation, explain your options and help you come to a decision you’re confident in.
You Could Choose a Different Interest Rate
You don’t have to stick with the same interest rate product when you take out a new mortgage, only if you port your existing one. You can choose from any available products that the lender has to offer for any new borrowing. These could be fixed, variable, tracker, discount, etc. Your mortgage broker will help you choose one that best suits you and your personal situation.
Find out more about the different types of mortgages in our Mortgage Types Explained guide.
Tips for Moving House and Searching for a New Home
It’s always worth consulting at least one estate agent when you’re looking to buy a property. They should be experts on the housing market in their areas who can keep you updated about any suitable properties and help you liaise with sellers when you start making offers.
The more specific you can be with your estate agents, the better. Don’t be afraid to tell them exactly what you want and ask lots of questions about the properties they present to you. You should never feel like your settling – you’re choosing somewhere to live after all. It’s the place you’ll wake up every day and go to bed every evening.
So, beyond the number of bedrooms and price range, here are a few other things to ask your estate agents about:
- Are the public transport links good - including links to shops, schools and the social scene?
- Are there any upcoming property developments in the area?
- Are the local schools good?
Inside the House
- What’s the average cost of utility bills?
- Does the house have full central heating and how old is the system?
- Is the property insulated - is the loft insulated/is there cavity wall insulation?
Outside the House
- Does the house have a burglar alarm fitted?
- Do the doors and windows have sturdy locks?
- Does the roof sag and are there any cracks in the walls? These can be signs of subsidence
First impressions are very important. You’re likely to have made 80% of your decision on whether to buy on the very first visit. But don’t be too hasty – it’s not 100%. Even minor factors such as the weather affect the way a property can come across on a particular day.
Go for a second viewing. You don’t need to pressure yourself more than necessary when moving home. If you’re unsure, go back and have a second look.
It’s worth going back even after you’ve had an offer accepted on a home and you’ve received a surveyor’s report, as a second viewing is a great opportunity to assess the extent of any problems.
Selling Your Current Home
Finding a new property is normally the fun bit. It’s extremely easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all - just make sure you give equal attention to selling your property. After all, you want to get a good price for it to cover as much of the cost of your new home as possible.
Below are a few important elements involved in selling your property.
Your Home's Best Features
Take a look at the questions we recommended you ask when buying a property again. If you’re selling a property with some good answers to those questions, make sure you mention them in your advertisement or tell the estate agent managing the sale about them. Your estate agent can make those features really clear to prospective buyers of your home.
Although you want someone to pay a decent sum for your property, you don’t want to price people out and make it harder to sell. The best way to ensure you put it on the market for a reasonable amount is to have a valuation and ask your estate agent about the local market, so you can see how your home compares. You can also ask how to improve your home and boost the value by applying each of the questions we recommended earlier. For an even more accurate value estimate, we recommend having at least 3 valuations from different estate agencies. You can then use the average figure, rather than rely on a singular opinion.
Advertising Your Home
You can advertise your property yourself or have your estate agent do it. There’s no legal requirement to use their advertising services but it’s a smart move if they’ve got an encouraging reputation. Just be aware that estate agents will charge you to advertise and it’s normally priced as a percentage of your final sale price – usually around 1.5%.
Online property advertisers are also becoming a popular option for sellers. However, it’s worth noting that you’ll likely have to arrange viewings yourself and pay fees upfront, regardless of whether you end up selling via that website or not.
Show Your Property in Its Best Light
You’re more likely to sell your home quickly and for a good price if it’s looking its best when people come to view it.
Here are our top tips:
- Declutter to make each room feel as spacious as possible
- Go beyond spring cleaning and check for things like spent bulbs, messy shelves and curtains hanging off rails
- Mow the lawn, weed the flowerbeds and trim edges in the garden so it looks well-cared for - this is especially important in properties with a front garden as it’ll form part of a potential buyer’s first impression when they view your home
- Complete any DIY jobs that were previously abandoned - fix that broken tile, fill in some chipped plaster and touch up that worn paintwork
- Add finishing touches, like flowers in the window, matching towels in the bathroom and neatly arranged cushions on sofas. These all give buyers an idea of what their home could look like - ever heard of the term “show home”?
- Address any big projects early. You could give your home a complete repaint, replace rotten windows, re-grout tiles, treat wooden floors, etc.
The Cost of Moving House
Moving home is not only stressful - it’s expensive.
Here are some stats to give you a better idea of what you’re likely to spend:
- The estimated cost of moving house in 2018 was £8,885.66, based on the average UK property price in 2018. This includes any necessary fees you have to pay to move home.
- The cost of buying property is approximately £3,000 - £3,500. This includes costs such as: Stamp Duty, deposit, property surveyors, conveyancing, valuation fees, etc.
- The cost of selling is approximately £4,000 - £4,500. This includes: estate agents’ fees, conveyancing, EPC, etc.
- Moving costs are approximated around £1,000 - £1,500. This includes: hiring a removal company, postal redirection, etc.
How can you save money? You can’t cut certain expenses completely but you can reduce them by comparing providers. We recommend obtaining at least 3 quotes per service.
It’s important to be aware of any additional hidden costs you might have to pay, e.g. HM Land Registry fee, electronic transfer fees, property fraud fee, mortgage arrangement fee, storage fee, phone line and broadband setup costs, etc. The amount you pay will likely depend on the services you use.
John Charcol can help you organise everything, from finding a removals company to setting up bills, with our free concierge service.
Managing the Chain
The property chain refers to the number of properties involved in a sale. For you, moving home will likely involve selling one property to move into another one. That’s 2 properties. But the people from whom you’re buying your property will likely be moving into a new place themselves and the people buying your property will be moving from somewhere - and so on. You’ve got yourselves, your buyers, their buyers, the people selling you their property and the people they’re buying from – that’s a lot of buying and selling contracts that need to change hands. To make matters even more complicated, all these transactions need to complete on the same day.
There's Good News and Bad News
The bad news? Stress and nail biting is inevitable when moving home. The good news - most of the head spinning contract stuff will be taken care of by your solicitor.
Here’s how you can stay on top of everything and remain informed throughout the process:
- Don’t be afraid to chase people up – if you haven’t heard anything from your conveyancer for a while, give them a call to find out what’s going on
- Learn as much as you can about everyone’s diaries. There’s not too much you can do about other people’s commitments, but knowing when they’re unavailable helps you manage your own expectations, e.g. if you know that someone’s conveyancer is on holiday you’ll be aware of a delay
- Put clauses in your selling contracts. This puts the pressure on others in the chain and lets them know that they need to stay on top of things. No one wants to be the weakest link
- Fix the big problems as soon as you can. Hopefully, your survey will give your property a good review, but if there are big things to be fixed, it could cause someone to pull out and destroy the chain
- Have a backup plan – only take your property off the market once your buyer has a Decision in Principle, as this makes it less likely they’ll back out. Similarly, keep an eye on other properties you could move on quickly should your purchase fall through
Moving House Checklist
You don’t have to do everything at once when you move home. There are different stages. We’ve outlined below what you need to do as you approach your moving date below.
6 weeks before you move you should:
- Obtain quotes on removal costs
- Make an inventory of your possessions
- Decide what you’re keeping and arrange to get rid of the things you don’t want anymore
- Start to clean out cupboards and gather belongings by room
- Collect packing materials like boxes and bubble wrap
- Check parking restrictions for any removal vehicles at your new property
4 weeks before:
- Finalise the exchange of contracts and moving date with your lawyer
- Book a removals company
- Find storage facilities if you need them
- Organise for your new property to be cleaned before you move in
- Start physically packing non-essentials
- Contact utility suppliers to tell them the date you’re moving out- it’s worth downloading any important documents in case you won’t have the internet immediately set up in your new home
1 – 2 weeks before:
- Settle all bills and contact companies to let them know you’re moving - e.g. your phone provider, bank, subscriptions, etc.
- Contact postal redirection services
- Pack everything, label the boxes and make a list so you know everything in each box
- Take apart furniture and be careful to put screws and bolts into labelled bags and keep them in a secure place, or stick them to the furniture they belong to
- Make a box filled with the essentials you’ll need access on the day you move in, e.g. kettle, toilet tissue, bedding, plates, pyjamas, etc.
- Organise all important documents where you can easily find them
- Take a final meter reading and pass it onto the suppliers
- Collect keys to your new property
On the day you move:
- Leave all sets of keys with the estate agents you’re selling through
- Check all windows are secure and utilities are switched off
- Locate meters and take readings in your new home
- Move furniture into the house first to prevent moving it all around again
- If you’re not paying for cleaners to do a deep clean of the property, then carry out an initial clear yourself before you start unpacking
- Flatten some cardboard boxes and lay them down to protect the flooring before unpacking
- Unpack by room
- Check all the utilities are running
- Make sure you have keys to every door, window and cupboard and find out what day your bins are collected
- Send back old the resident’s post – you can do this by writing “return to sender” on the envelopes
- Account for every item in your inventory
Change of Address When Moving House
You need to inform pretty much everyone when you change address.
Some examples include:
Personal, Work and Educational
- Family and friends
- Your employer
- Schools, colleges, universities
Government Bodies and Organisations
- DWP – depending on your circumstances
- HMRC – depending on your circumstances
- Electoral roll
- TV licensing
- Local authority - for your final Council Tax statement
- Insurance providers - e.g. car, home, mobile phone, pet, life, health, etc.
- Pension services
- Student Loans services
- Utility suppliers - e.g. water, gas, electricity, etc.
- Bills, phone, broadband, TV, mobile, etc.
- Services - e.g. cleaners, gardeners, etc.
Finding a Mortgage
We can find you a mortgage, so you can move up the property ladder and into a bigger, better home. See Moving Home Mortgages for more information on what we offer. Or call us on 0344 346 3672.