Buying property in North Wales
Welcome Research has shown that moving house can be one of the most stressful events you are likely to encounter in your lifetime, often being ranked alongside divorce and even bereavement. The good news is that is doesn’t have to be that way. The bad news is that the only person able to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible is you.
The key to a successful move is to be super organised and to plan ahead. Something as big as moving a whole family and the contents of their entire home on one single day does not happen on its own – and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. But there are basic steps that you can follow in order to keep the stress to a minimum. Being well informed is the key to success when moving house, with delegation coming a close second! Firstly you need to come up with a detailed plan of attack, and try to split as many jobs as possible between yourself and your partner. If everybody knows which tasks they are responsible for from the beginning it will cause less arguments further down the line. There is external help available too. Many
removals companies for example will undertake the packing for you, and a local storage company can house furniture until you can find another home for it. Technology can also make life easier, try www.iammoving.com for a one stop shop when changing your address. Above all, try to enjoy the experience. It may seem daunting at the outset, but try to keep the reasons behind the move in focus. You might be moving up the property ladder which is a celebration in itself, or relocating to a different area in order to start a new job, be nearer family or to move in with your partner. Either way your new home is a new beginning. So, once you are all packed up and have survived moving day itself then you can get on with your new life. So good luck and remember to keep positive!
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Grant Hamilton EDITOR
Kate Hamilton ART DIRECTOR
Simon Marriott MARKETING MANAGER
The Home Buyers’ Guide is an independent, regional magazine that is printed bi-annually by KSG Publishing, the publishers of North Wales Magazine. It is available to pick up, free of charge, from a wide range of estate agents throughout Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Wrexham, Gwynedd and the Isle of Anglesey.
07 The buying process
27 Planning ahead
11 Finding finance
31 Get packing
15 Buying together
33 Storage needs
17 Costs to budget for
19 Selling your current property
37 Moving day
21 Finding your dream home
41 You’re in!
25 Choosing a solicitor
45 Change of address
Disclaimer: All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part (electronically or in print) without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited. Every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of published content, and any views or opinions presented are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Home Buyers’ Guide. The publishers assume no responsibility for any damage, loss or injury arising from participation in, or as a result of, any information, offer or advertisement contained within the magazine. The Home Buyers’ Guide does not endorse any of the advertisements featured. All words and images remain the property of their respective owners and all copyrights are observed. The Home Buyers’ Guide and North Wales Magazine are not associated with any newspaper group. Privacy Notice: You can read KSG Publishing’s full privacy notice at www. northwalesmagazine.com For further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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RICHARD WILLIAMS Your local independent builders merchant
Moving house or buying your first home? Richard Williams builders merchants have everything you need to renovate or extend your new property. Whether it’s updating an internal door, installing a whole new patio or decking area or just replacing a fence panel, we stock a great range of quality products to get the job done. We have branches in Llandudno Junction and Ruthin and offer a delivery service across North Wales.
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// E: SALES@RWDL.COM
THE BUYING PROCESS Buying a house actually comes down to a series of different actions. And it is vital that they happen in a certain order, otherwise you could hold up the process for both yourself and everybody else in your chain.
1) Do the maths Before you even start browsing Rightmove, it is essential that you get all of your financial ducks in a row. You will need a deposit before you can do anything – the days of 100% mortgages are long gone – and the bigger the deposit, then the better the mortgage rate. Once you have saved a suitable deposit, 5% of the property price being the bear minimum, then you will need to get a mortgage agreed in principle. Only then are you allowed to start shopping! You will also need to budget for other fees and taxes, such as stamp duty, a solicitor, the survey, the searches and removals.
2) Sell your own home If you have a house to sell then it is vital that you have an offer accepted on it before you go looking at other properties. If you go on viewings when you aren’t actually in a position to proceed then you will simply be wasting your own time, as well as the vendors and the estate agents. You also run the risk of being severely disappointed if you find the property of your dreams, only to not be able to buy it.
3) Start researching Now that you are in a position to move you can start researching your ideal home. It is likely that you already have a location in mind, but often our dream area and our budget don’t actually marry up, so it’s always worth extending your search radius. Also line up properties to view that aren’t necessarily what you think you want but that fit in your budget – sometimes a property will surprise you.
4) Go on viewings Now is the time to line up as many viewings as possible from all the properties around your budget and in your search area. It is vital that you don’t write anything off before you have seen it in the flesh! What looks great on paper may turn out to be disappointing, and something that seemed nondescript online could actually tick all of your boxes…
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5) Put in an offer When you have decided on a property, now is the time to put in an offer. Don’t be afraid to be cheeky either – the worst that a vendor can say is no! More than likely however, they will come back with a counter offer and you will meet in the middle, but it will depend on the strength of the market at the time. The estate agent will be able to advise you on what they think the vendor is likely to accept.
6) Commission a survey Once your offer has been accepted then you will need to commission a survey. If you are getting a mortgage then your mortgage provider will arrange this, if you are purchasing in cash then you will need to arrange it yourself. You will have a choice of a basic mortgage valuation, a homebuyers report and a full structural survey – the property will dictate which is most suitable.
7) Commission a solicitor You need a conveyancing solicitor to buy and sell any property in the UK. Your estate agent will have some that they can recommend, as will your family and friends. It is always a good idea to use one that comes highly recommended, as the speed of your solicitor results in how quickly you will be able to move. Even good solicitors will need a phone call from you once a week just to give them a gentle chase up…
8) Finalise your mortgage Get in touch with your mortgage provider now and let them know that you have had an offer accepted and the exact amount that you are purchasing for. You will now need to formally complete the mortgage application.
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9) All systems go Once you have the results from the survey, and both yourselves and your mortgage provider are happy with them, then its all systems go! You could be in your new home from as little as four weeks from this point in, so you need to be proactive. While your solicitor is busy working away behind the scenes on your searches and legal stuff, you need to be having a major sort out! Get rid of as much stuff as you can at this point – there is no need to pay to have it moved just to throw it away once you get to your new place.
10) Find a removals firm You need to decide whether you are going to get a professional removals firm or rope in your mates and do it yourselves. Ultimately it will depend on how large your property is and how much stuff you have to move. A removals firm is always recommended however, as they have all of the necessary insurance and are used to doing it day in and day out. Always get three quotes before you commission a firm, and find out exactly what it includes – packing, for example, is usually extra.
13) Change of address Start notifying everyone of your change of address, and take all relevant meter readings too.
11) Get insured You will need to have both buildings and life insurance in place as part of your mortgage contract – and contents insurance is worth having too. There are plenty of online price comparison sites, but make sure that your mortgage provider is happy with them before you sign on the dotted line…
14) Collect the keys The big itself is the day that you complete on the legal process, meaning that you get to collect the keys! If this is your first home, then you might not be moving in today, instead deciding to give it a thorough clean and a lick of paint before you install your furniture. For most people in a chain however, it all needs to happen today, so you need to get loading the van first thing! You will get a call from your solicitor to say that it has all gone through (usually around 3pm) and that your new home is now ready to move into. n
12) Exchange contracts You will by now have sent your deposit to your solicitor, and they will exchange contracts with your vendor’s solicitor. There is no going back once contracts are exchanged, and it usually signals that the big move will take place a week later – although it is possible to exchange and complete on the same day if you are in a rush. At this point you need to confirm your removals firm for moving day.
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FINDING FINANCE The majority of people getting on, or moving up, the property ladder will need a mortgage. The obvious first port of call when looking for finance is your bank – but do your research thoroughly first as your existing bank might not offer the most cost effective products.
You don’t have to be a customer with a particular bank in order to qualify for their mortgage products, so at the very least shop around all of the high street banks and building societies in order to find the best rate.
on the high street, so can save you a huge amount of money. They can also help people in more unusual circumstances – so even if a bank says no to your mortgage application, don’t give up hope!
And it’s not all about rates either – some are far more flexible than others when it comes to eligibility criteria and size of deposit required, not to mention the length of time that they will allow the mortgage to run for.
The downside of course is that mortgage brokers charge a fee, but this isn’t usually as much as you might expect – and you tend to recoup the fee over the long term with the amount of money saved on the mortgage product itself. And, in some cases, the broker actually gets paid by the mortgage provider – meaning that their expertise hasn’t cost you a penny.
It is also seriously worth considering getting a mortgage broker. They have access to a huge range of products that simply aren’t available
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Wherever you source your mortgage however, there are some things to be aware of. Firstly fees – all mortgages charge them, but some want paying upfront while others can be added onto the cost of the loan. This can often be a deciding factor if you’d rather have a sofa in the first few weeks of moving in! You also need to consider tie-ins, especially if you plump for a fixed rate in the first instance. Would you rather have the peace of mind for the next ten years knowing that your mortgage rate won’t rise, or would you rather have the flexibility of being able to move house? Check what the ERP’s (early redemption penalties) are if you were to close your mortgage before the end of the allotted time. Of course, some mortgages are portable, meaning that you can still secure the fixed rate but simply port the product to your new home if you decided to move… Also consider flexibility. You may prefer a mortgage that allows you to overpay, underpay or take payment holidays, meaning that you can then change your mortgage payments to suit your needs. Finally, if you are willing to consider a newbuild property, then there is additional help at hand. The government’s Help to Buy scheme provides a shared equity loan to buyers of new-build homes of 20% which
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has to be repaid within 25 years. The main advantage of this scheme is that you can apply for mortgages with a 75% loan-to-value (LTV) in order to secure a better rate. You will still need a 5% deposit as a minimum, but Help to Buy works differently to a normal mortgage. Firstly, it’s only available on properties priced below £300,000 – in Wales anyway, the values differ throughout in the UK. The mortgage you get is for 75% of the LTV of the property. 20% is taken from an equity loan, with the final 5% taken from your deposit. You don’t pay any interest or fees on the 20% for the first five years and then, in the sixth year, you’ll be charged 1.75%. After that, the fee rises by inflation based on the Retail Prices Index (RPI) plus 1% each year. n
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BUYING TOGETHER When you are trying to get on the first rung of the property ladder, it can often be a good idea to pool your resources in order to make your money go further. However, like any serious partnership, you will have to have everything in writing. Usually people either purchase property either on their own, or with their spouse. However, if you are buying with a friend or other family member then the benefits can be the same – the only difference will be in your Will. Married couples tend to purchase property as ‘Joint Tenants’ meaning that each coowner owns the whole of the property and neither owner has a specific or identifiable share. If you sell the property, you are each entitled to half of the sale proceeds, regardless of how much you each contributed to the purchase price or to the mortgage repayments. Neither of you is entitled to sell your share of the property. If one of you dies, then the surviving coowner will automatically own the whole of the property, regardless of any wishes that
you have made in your Will stating otherwise. This is known as the ‘Right of Survivorship’ and is ideal for married couples – but it isn’t suitable for friends buying together. So, if you are pooling your resources with a mate, then you need to make sure that you purchase as ‘Tenants in Common’. This means that each co-owner owns a specific share of the property, which is usually 50% each but it is possible to hold unequal shares. As you each own a separate share in the property you are both entitled to leave your individual share to whoever you please in your Will. If you do not have a Will when you die, your share will pass to your next of kin, making it ideal for friends or business partners who wish to purchase a home together. n
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WHAT YOU NEED TO PAY There are numerous costs associated with buying a new home that you need to budget for, but they will vary from individual to individual – and property to property. Usually the biggest cost consideration is stamp duty but, in April 2018, UK Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) was replaced in Wales by Land Transaction Tax (LTT). This means that we pay a different rate to the rest of the UK, and the price that you do need to pay depends purely on the purchase price of the property. Portion of property price LTT rate £0 - £180,000 0% £180,001 - £250,000 3.5% £250,001 - £400,000 5% £400,001 - £750,000 7.5% £750,001 - £1.5 million 10% £1.5 million (and above) 12% So, for example, someone buying a home for £280,000 would pay no tax on the value of the property up to £180,000, 3.5% tax on the property value between £180,001 and £250,000 and 5% on the property value between £250,001 and £280,000. In this case, the total LTT liability would be £3,950. Please note that those of you buying a second home (be it for pleasure or investment) will need to pay an additional 3% LTT to the figures quoted in the above table. If in doubt there are plenty of online calculators that do the LTT maths for you, try www.which.co.uk as a first port of call. In addition to LTT and your deposit, the other upfront costs that need to be taken into consideration are: x Solicitor: Expect to pay from £750 to £1,250 depending on the purchase price x Mortgage valuation fee: Usually around £200. See if you can add it onto the cost of your loan x Survey: On average, costs start from £400 for a homebuyers report. A full structural survey will cost more x Search fees: These can cost up to £300 on top of your standard legal fees x Mortgage fees: Will be a percentage of your borrowing, but you might be able to add it to your loan x Estate agent (if you are selling): Usually around 1% in North Wales x Removals: From £350 for a local move for a one-bed flat, to over £1,000 x Other (mail redirection, cleaning, CHAPS fees etc): This could all add up to an additional £150
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YOUR PROPERTY Usually when you want to buy a new house you have to sell your old one first. However, what should be an easy feat, can often be time consuming and downright frustrating. Once you have agreed to sell you are in for a six to 12 week wait. But the bad news is that it could take months to even find a buyer in the first place… So, what can you do to help speed the process up? First and foremost you need to have your property ‘show home ready’. This means that you need to make it as appealing to potential buyers as possible by getting those odd jobs done and decluttering…
suggests that you don’t have enough storage. So declutter inside cupboards AND out – and show that you have room for everything. Then you need to get onto those DIY jobs. You know the ones: that leaky gutter that has been dripping for the past 12 months; those sticky finger marks on the kitchen wall; the skirting board that the dog had for lunch and the weeds on the drive. If you’ve been meaning to do them then that means that they need doing – so do them now or risk putting buyers off.
The advantage of decluttering is that you always want buyers to be able to see the actual space available, and your personal items can detract from that. Plus, clutter is a distraction when buyers are viewing – you want them looking at the size of your garden not your gnome collection…
Finally, make your space as appealing as possible. This means stumping up for fresh flowers, sticking on a pot of delicious smelling coffee and placing desirable publications on the coffee table – we’ve heard that North Wales Magazine is especially good for this!!
Focus on your storage space. Potential buyers need somewhere to keep their hoover, suitcase and even Christmas decorations – and if you have stuff lying out all over the place then it
Seriously, you are selling a lifestyle as much as a property – so think about how your buyers want to live, and then dress your home accordingly. n
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FINDING YOUR DREAM HOME We hate to be party poopers but, in reality, your dream home doesn’t exist – and we aren’t necessarily taking Cribs mansions either.
If you have been sensible and got your lists of ‘must haves’ and ‘desirables’ then you know what you want – but you still need to be prepared to compromise, as there is no such thing as the ideal home. The house that you saw yesterday had the perfect layout but was on a busy road. The house before that was in a lovely peaceful location but had a north facing garden. The house that you are due to view tomorrow looks like it ticks all of the accommodation boxes, but it’s ten miles further out of town than you’d rather be. You get the picture…
So what can you do? Well, the first step is to be realistic. Know that you aren’t going to get everything, and decide on what you are (and what you aren’t) prepared to compromise on. For example, off street parking could be make or break for one family, while a second bathroom is more important to another… The second step is to see how you can stretch your budget in order to get as many things on your wish list as possible. Buying a new-build home is one way. This could save you 20% on the cost of your
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mortgage to start with (see page 12 for more information), and it means that your ongoing maintenance costs will be as low as physically possible. The majority of your fixtures and fittings will also be included, and housebuilders often throw in incentives such as free legal fees that can all help to make your money go as far as physically possible. On the other end of the spectrum you could buy a renovation project. Purchasing a bit of a wreck means that you should have grabbed yourself a bit of a bargain – but bargains always need work. The advantage to this of course is that you can do it up at your leisure as funds allow – Rome wasn’t built in a day afterall – and many things you can do yourself in your free time. The third way to stretch your funds is to consider another area. Let’s face it, North Wales isn’t that big a place – so if you ended
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up in the next town along the coast would it really matter? For some people, the answer is yes – but this is where you decide on what is important to you… are you going to plump for postcode or practicality? The final way to make the most out of your money is to realise untapped potential. Let’s just say that you wanted a four-bedroom home but you really like the three-bed down the road… At this point you need to ask yourself whether you could extend or even undertake a loft conversion. This might sound dramatic, but it is often preferable to choose the property in your dream location and then do as much to it as you can in order to make it suit your lifestyle. The other advantage to adding space at a later date is that you can often remortgage a couple of years down the line in order to finance the project, meaning that you can spread the cost to get the space that you really want…n
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CHOOSING YOUR SOLICITOR It is physically impossible to buy or sell a property in the UK without a solicitor, so this is one service that you much budget for at the outset.
However, we are sorry to say that not all solicitors are created equal, and many seem to take an absolute age in order to progress your transaction while others are completely on the ball.
Solicitors can either charge a fixed fee, by the hour or a percentage of the property price – so make sure you understand how they will be invoicing so that you can compare like quotes with like.
But how do you know whether a solicitor falls into the efficient or ineffective category? The answer is that you don’t until it’s too late, as it’s not really practical to change solicitors half way though the conveyancing process.
Also make sure that you allow for VAT, and get costings for bank transfers and ‘disbursements’, which is really just a posh word for extras such as postage… However, price isn’t really a good indicator either, as some of the most efficient solicitors in the country also happen to be the most cost effective. Enquire about email, and how much they are willing to discuss over it – it is obviously far quicker and cheaper to deal online as much as possible as opposed to having lengthy meetings in plush offices. So, in a nutshell, if you are looking for a good solicitor then you need to ask around. Your estate agent will be able to recommend a couple for you – as they don’t like dealing with the slow ones either! Your family and friends will also be able to point you in the right direction, as a previous positive experience is the best recommendation that you can get… n
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In order to make your big day go as smoothly as possible it is essential that you plan ahead. The more that you do upfront will ensure that moving day itself is as stress free as it’s possible to get. The first thing that you need to do is have a jolly good clear out. Now is the time to get rid of those clothes that no longer fit and the toys that the kids have grown out of – not to mention all of those unwanted Christmas presents! Try to sell as much as possible, either on Facebook, eBay or at a car boot sale. If you are getting rid of baby items then the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) hold very successful sales here in North Wales. And, if you have a vast amount of stuff to get rid of, then you could always consider hosting your own garage sale and promoting it on social media… For those things that don’t sell, donate to charity. There is a huge choice of charity shops in the region which will take anything from clothes to
books and bric-à-brac. Even larger items can be given to a good cause, with many charities actually coming to collect unwanted furniture and beds free of charge. Try to recycle anything that is left – even if it means giving it away on Freecycle or Facebook. Nine times out of ten the recipient will come to collect the item, so it’s a pretty hassle free option, as is sticking it out on the street with a “free to good home” sign. Finally, take any remaining items to the tip – but hopefully these will be few and far between by this point. Now it’s time to tidy up all those cupboards that you’ve been meaning to tackle for years.
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There’s no point transferring all that old filing in a carrier bag – sort it now so that it’s easier to move and is one less thing to worry about once you are settled. You also need to get eating! Run down everything in your freezer as your appliance won’t be able to be plugged in for 24 hours after the move, so your homemade lasagne simply won’t survive. Likewise, stop replacing store cupboard items as it’s just more to move on the day. You need to start packing as early as possible if you are doing it yourself. You can find plenty of packing tips on page 31 but, in the first instance, you can at least start by filling up your suitcases with your out of season clothes that you know you won’t be needing any time soon. It’s also a good idea to organise to have your post redirected at this stage, as this can take
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the immediate stress out of changing all of those necessary addresses. And it won’t hurt to start cleaning now either! You should always leave your old home as you are expecting to find your new one, and this can’t all be done on moving day itself. So, get into the habit of wiping out every cupboard as and when you have emptied it… Finally, arrange for the kids to spend the day with friends or family. Older children may be able to help however so keep them with you, but little ones will only get under your feet. The same can be said for any pets that you have, so make alternative arrangements for them too, especially if they are of a nervous disposition. If this is the case then arrange accommodation for them for a good few days before the move, or rather, before they begin to realise that anything is up. You don’t want to be waiting to lock up on moving day with the cat hiding up the chimney! n
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GET PACKING! If you are packing yourself, try to have a detailed system. Firstly, make sure that all of the boxes are labelled on the side as opposed to the top, otherwise you won’t be any the wiser of their contents when they are stacked on top of each other. Try to label each box with the name of the room and a number, eg Kitchen (1). Then set aside a dedicated notebook and use the same room and number as a headline, listing below everything that’s contained in the box. This might sound like a laborious task but it is one that will be worth its weight it gold three weeks down the line when packing seems like a distant memory and you can’t find the remote control. Use your suitcases to their advantage, and fill them with all of the clothes from your drawers and shelves. For hanging clothes, simply group a few hangers together and then put a bin bag over them – tie handles are the best so that you can make the entire group completely watertight and secure should something slip off a hanger! Take photos of all of the back of your TV, Sky box and DVD player to help guide you when you come to set it back up at the other end! And don’t just jumble cables into a box as you’ll regret it when you have to untangle them – instead tape them together at different intervals to stop them getting muddled up. If you are taking any furniture apart, put all of the relevant nuts and bolts in a food bag and label them according to which piece of furniture they belong to. You might think that you’ll remember which screw goes where – but the likelihood is that you won’t! Most removals firms also offer a full packing service, something that can be invaluable should you be short of time. However, if you do go down this route don’t think that you’re off the hook completely! If you want things to end up in certain rooms at the new place then you will need to be on hand in order to delegate accordingly – you don’t want to move in to your new home to find 117 boxes labelled miscellaneous! n
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STORAGE It might be that you are downsizing or moving to a house that needs complete renovation. Alternatively your new home might just simply not have enough of it but, whatever the reason, there are numerous ones why you might need some storage on either a short- or long-term basis.
There are plenty of storage options on the market, but it is important to do your research and find out which one is right for you – and your belongings! If you are just after a short-term storage solution then your removals company might be able to help, as many offer both storage and removals services. There are also numerous storage-only facilities throughout North Wales which offer a wide range of secure units to rent. The advantage over of these purpose-built units over renting some garage space off your mates is numerous. Firstly they are clean, as you don’t want your sofa getting covering in dust and spiders examining the contents of your boxes. Secondly they are heated, which is especially important if you are renting for the long-term,
as there is nothing worse than unpacking boxes of damp belongings. Thirdly they are secure. Unfortunately there is a lot of petty theft in North Wales, and the peace of mind that a fully alarmed and CCTV monitored unit can provide is immense – especially if you are storing things of sentimental value. Purpose-built storage units also provide easy accessibility. They usually have an undercover area in which to load and unload, meaning that even the great North Walian weather won’t dampen your belongings. They also tend to have trolleys to hand, meaning that you won’t put your back out ferrying everything to and from the van… Finally, they are properly insured. This means that if the worst did happen, then you would be adequately covered for your loss. n
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REMOVALS Once you have decluttered your home and got it into an organised state, it’s time to think about removals. It is possible to do this on your own, but moving day is almost always about time and so this can be quite a stressful undertaking.
If you do decide to move everything yourself then rope in as many friends and family to help as possible, as many hands make lighter work. This probably won’t be an option if you are relocating to a new area, but they can at least help you to load up the van. You will need to organise hire of the van at least two weeks before moving day, and try to be generous when choosing the size. There is nothing more stressful than having to do more loads than necessary, and this simply won’t be possible if you are moving more than an hour away. Also ensure that you are insured to drive the hired vehicle, and you will need to arrange insurance for your belongings while they are in transit. You might also need to contact your local council to remove any relevant parking
restrictions – at both addresses. An easier, although more expensive, option is to hire a specialist removals company. They do this every day of the week and so will ultimately be far quicker at loading and unloading than you and your friends. Try to get at least three quotes before you choose a firm and, as they will come round to your property to check out the amount that needs moving, it will be easy to gauge their professionalism. Any specialist removals firm will already have all of the relevant insurance so that you know your possessions are protected, but make sure that the quote you get is a fixed price and that it includes VAT. It’s also a good idea to make sure that it is a member of a recognised trade organisation, such as the British Association of Removers. n
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MOVING DAY So, here it is – moving day has arrived! Hopefully you are as organised as it’s possible to be at this stage, but you’ve still got a pretty busy day ahead.
Make sure that you have packed an overnight bag so that you don’t need to be rummaging through suitcases to find your nightwear at the end of what will be a very hectic day. Likewise, make sure that you have packed all of your clothes, bar what you will be wearing for the move. You will also need a bag to hand that contains all of your valuables, such as passports and jewellery, as well as your cheque book if that’s how you are planning to pay the removals firm. Also have your estate agents and solicitors phone numbers to hand. Think of this stage as planning to go on holiday, suitcase packed, flight bag ready and travel clothes laid out! You will also need a couple of essential boxes. Label these very carefully, perhaps even in a different colour, and try to take these in the car with you as opposed to sending them off in the removals van. The first box should contain all of your kitchen essentials, such as a plate, bowl and set of cutlery for each member of the
family, the kettle, tea and coffee and some loo roll. This way, with the aid of a takeaway, you should be able to survive the first 24 hours without having to dash to the supermarket. The second box should contain a pillow and sleeping bag for each of you, as well as some sheets or something to make some temporary curtains with if they haven’t been left behind. Sometimes, especially if you are relocating to a new area or are at the bottom of a long chain, the removals team don’t leave until pretty late, and making up beds at this time of night can be stressful. While the van is being loaded up you will need to clean the property through so, again, make sure that the hoover and the cleaning box are left out
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until the end. Try to do time consuming tasks, such as bathrooms, windows and the oven, in advance so at this stage all you really need to do is wipe down the window sills and skirting boards, hoover, mop and clean the kitchen. Follow the removal men round and do each room as they empty it. Try to leave all of the instructions for the boiler, oven etc to hand so that the new
owners can begin to operate them immediately if they wish to, and do a final check of the house. Open every cupboard and every drawer in every room to make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything, and don’t forget to double check the loft, shed and garage.
Just before you shut the front door behind you, you’ll need to take some meter readings – unless you are on a pre paid meter. Gas and electric are the obvious ones, but if you are on a meter for your mains water then this will need to be taken too. Try to phone them through to the suppliers immediately, that way all of your jobs relating to this former property are done, otherwise write them down along with the time and date and try to do it as soon as possible. Finally, check that all of the doors and windows are locked, and take every available set of keys to the estate agent so that they can release them to your buyers on completion – or to your landlord if you are moving out of a rented property. n
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AND YOU’RE IN! Congratulations! You’re inside your new home! Hopefully the previous occupants have left it as clean as you had hoped – but this isn’t always the case unfortunately…
If you were lucky enough to overtake the moving van on the way to your new home, then you should still have your hoover and cleaning products with you from your mad dash around your previous property. Now is the time to do the same at this end, as it’s much easier to clean an empty room. Wipe all of the skirting boards and whizz the hoover round before any furniture goes in – but you can leave the kitchen and bathroom until after the removals men have gone since there isn’t any big furniture going in here. As soon as you’ve put your rubber gloves down, then make up the beds. It’s much easier
to do it now while you still have an ounce of energy left – you’ll thank yourself later. Finally, it’s time to order a takeaway, crack open the bubbly and unwind – at least until tomorrow! The day after the big move, there are a few things that you will need to do before you can start unpacking and making your new house a home. One of the main things is to change your address, but see the next feature on how best to tackle that particular task. The next most important job is to check the property and to ensure everything that was agreed to be included in the sale has
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actually been left behind. You do hear the odd horror story of previous occupiers taking everything down to the door handles and light switches and, while this is extremely rare, it is important to notify your solicitor immediately if you think that something is amiss. And, depending on what property you have bought, another imperative job might be to change the locks. If you have purchased off an owner-occupier then this is probably an unnecessary precaution, but if the property was tenanted or vacant then it’s probably a wise move. While you took the meter readings at your old property on the day of the move, you will now need to take them at your new place. Hopefully the previous owners also did the same and there won’t be any discrepancies in the readings, but it’s best to sort it out at the start just in case.
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Now is also a good time to ring round all of the utilities companies to make sure that you are getting the best deal. It’s very easy to stick with the firm that already supplies the property, but utility companies are always on the look out for new customers so now is the ideal time to make sure that you are paying the best possible rate. It’s also a good idea to introduce yourself to your neighbours right at the beginning. It can be an awkward task to do this once you’ve been there for six months just because you need someone to bring the bins in while you are on holiday. Hopefully, they will come and introduce themselves to you but, if not, take the initiative and give them a friendly knock. They will also be able to tell you which day the recycling gets collected if the previous occupants haven’t left you any information. n
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CHANGING YOUR ADDRESS One of the biggest headaches associated with moving house is changing your address. Everyone from the DVLA to your gym will have to be notified and, unfortunately, there isn’t a quick one-email-changes-them-all system available. You can use a website such as www.iammoving.com for the majority of major companies, but you will still have to contact smaller, independent firms directly – and the bigger boys may still demand notification in writing in any case. A good idea is to print off a pile of standard letters, stating your old and new addresses. Then simply fill in the relevant company name and account number by hand in order to save time.
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Below is a checklist to help you get started: x Landlord (if relevant) x Phone – landline x Phone – mobile x Broadband provider x Cable or satellite provider x Gas supplier x Electric supplier x Water supplier x TV License x Council tax x Buildings insurance x Contents insurance x Life insurance x Health insurance x Travel insurance x Pet insurance x Liability insurance x DVLA (vehicle registration) x DVLA (drivers license) x Car insurance x Car breakdown service x Bank x Building Society x Loans x Credit cards x Store cards x Hire purchase providers x Child trust funds x Pension x HMRC x Your place of work x School x Childcare x Doctor x Dentist x Optician x Vet x Gym
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While you do not have to notify the passport office, don’t forget to update the details in the back of your passport, as this would be essential in an emergency. Likewise, if you are a landlord, you will need to inform all of your tenants of your new contact details, as well as any relevant mortgages and insurance policies along with the body that holds your tenants deposits. Any other investments will also need to be contacted, along with any clubs that you belong to. Also, it is vital to remember to change your address on any online shopping orders that you make – you don’t want Asda going to your former home! Any professional contacts will also need to be notified. Your solicitor will probably be well aware of the situation, but let your accountant and financial advisor know too. It goes without saying that some companies are bound to slip through the net. A good trick is to have your post redirected for at least 12 months, that way even if you only get an annual statement you can change the odd address as and when you get the relevant letter through the post. Finally, don’t forget to inform your family and friends of your full postal address. They’ll need to know where to send those ‘Congratulations on your New Home’ cards after all! n
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