Prepare for your home move – 30 top tips

Written by admin on May 19th, 2011

Trethowans’ Property Team act in hundreds of home moves a year and we know first-hand how to help you prepare for a stress-free move.

Our Property Team is uniquely comprised of qualified lawyers – in fact two Solicitors, two Legal Executives, and a senior conveyancing executive. Between us, we have seen almost every issue, every negotiation and we have the experience to get you through your home move promptly, accurately and yet a very competitive price.

We do not believe in offering inexperienced and unqualified conveyancers which many large Estate Agent chains would refer you to – in return for large secret cash-back referral payments!

As a result, the very same Trethowans’ conveyancers who will be looking after your home move – not some aloof marketing person – have prepared the following tips which will assist you to avoid a stressful move, and make it one of your happiest memories:


TIP 1 – Show your house to potential viewers in the best possible light. Maximise both its kerb appeal and attend to the interior – do those jobs you have been putting off. A lick of neutral paint to those scuffs and marks, remove garish wallpapers and clean the carpets. All good examples of where a small bit of effort can pay dividends.

TIP 2 – Instruct your Solicitor before your Estate Agent. The earlier you instruct a Solicitor the better position you will be in both to start promptly, and how prepared you will be. If your Solicitor has time to study your deeds, locate any Local Authority consents for building works you have done and consider any forms they have asked you to complete, they will be able to pre-empt any issues that a buyer might raise rather than letting that happen weeks after the buyer puts an offer in – a waste of time for everyone, especially if the issue is time consuming to fix and your buyer loses patience.

What issues might they be? Many, as it depends on the quality of the Solicitor you used when you bought.

TIP 3 – Choose the right Solicitor. If your only goal is a cheap price, then these Tips are not for you as stress will follow nearly always with cheap conveyancing. If you have very little respect for your move by going cheap, then a cheap conveyancer cannot be expected to have much more either. Lack of communication, unqualified staff, calls diverted to secretaries, and mistakes in paperwork are all commonly reported when price is low.

A sensible approach to selecting a conveyancer would be to make sure the conveyancing Firm is Lexcel accredited, that they offer you your own personal conveyancing ‘Solicitor’ or ‘Legal Executive’ and the very same conveyancing lawyer handles your move start to finish.

Too many Estate Agents driven by commission and large cash back payments will refer you to a very low quality conveyancing outfit, who either are very cheap, or who may end up far more expensive with lots of hidden charges. Often the Estate Agent is well known enough to have a financial stake in the conveyancing firm, and so you really are being used so the Agent can make money, and not with your best interests at heart.

Some Agents are so appalled with the quality of some conveyancers, they will advise their seller not to accept an offer from a buyer using that conveyancing firm.

Really good value Solicitors are those where the Firm can actually offer you additional legal services when your needs arise in the future. You may have spent months involved with your conveyancer, built up a relationship, but only then to find out that this is pretty much all they do, so unlike many other home movers, you have to start with a different law firm if you have the need for additional legal services.

TIP 4 – Choose the right Estate Agent. You should always consider obtaining more than one valuation and three is quite a common place. The quality of Estate Agents varies wildly. Some larger commission employed Agents can have a reputation of winning your business by over-valuing your property – which can mean that buyers show no interest, your property remains on the market too long, and you eventually receive an offer far lower than even the lowest valuation you originally obtained from the other two Agents.

Choosing an Agent who has firm local ties and whose local reputation is important to them should mean you will receive a realistic value which will help you achieve a sale much quicker.

We can recommend one to you, as we see them all in action on a day to day basis, and we know who are good and who are not.

TIP 5 – Prepare your finances. If you are both selling and buying then even before putting your house on the market, you should have a mortgage offer agreed in principle. It also makes you a more attractive buyer when you come to make an offer for a property.

But choosing the right mortgage is crucial, and you should always consider using a mortgage adviser who is both an IFA (an Independent Financial Adviser) and one who considers the ‘whole of the mortgage market’, even those mortgages that lenders will only sell direct to customers, not through mortgage advisers. The mortgage adviser will usually receive common from the mortgage company, so you do not have to pay a fee out of your own money.

We can recommend a mortgage adviser who will consider the ‘whole of the mortgage market’

TIP 6 – Prepare for likely legal issues. This partly overlaps with choosing the right Solicitor (as mentioned above). If you have carried out building work, or electrical/gas works, make sure you have the relevant Local Authority consents, any consents required in your Deeds and that you give them to your Solicitor as soon as possible. If you do not have the consents, DO NOT approach the relevant person to obtain them, but speak to your Solicitor first, as late requests for consents could open a can of worms and frustrate your house move.

TIP 7 – Ask about neighbours, and local development. As a buyer, make sure that you enquire about the neighbours and whether there have been any disputes, and whether there is any likely building works near to the house you want to buy. The earlier you do this, the earlier you avoid any late surprises that might otherwise mean you would have pulled out of the purchase. Your Solicitor’s enquiries will not be focused on your neighbours, but strictly on the legal issues. It is amazing how often buyers fail to ask about the neighbours – and you then have only yourself to blame.

TIP 8 – Consider whether any tax will be due on selling. Does Capital Gains Tax (CGT) apply to you? On the sale of your main residence, you do not normally pay CGT. But if it is a second property then it may well apply and could run into thousands of pounds. Your solicitor can advise you.

TIP 9 – Enough viewings? Have you viewed the house you are buying sufficiently enough to make sure the house is right for you? Have you measured the rooms to make sure the bed or wardrobes can fit in properly?

TIP 10 – Is your own house on the market? If you are relying on the sale proceeds of your own house to fund your purchase, then most Agents will not take you seriously if you propose to make an offer on a house, and your own house is yet under offer or not on the market.

TIP 11 – Don’t be afraid to make an offer below the asking price. If you are selling, then you will almost certainly receive a lower offer than your asking price. You do not have to offer the full asking price on the house you want to buy. Indeed, if you are also selling your own house, your Estate Agent may well be able to negotiate the price on your onwards purchase. It is quite common to offer below the asking price, particularly if you yourself have received a lower offer on your own sale. The Seller can only say no, and then you creep your offer upwards. So always start below the full price.

We would be delighted to offer support and advice during your negotiation stage.

TIP 12 – Avoiding Stamp Duty. Many people think that when a house is priced very close to the threshold for a higher percentage in Stamp Duty, they can split the sale price by pricing the house at below the threshold, and everything above the threshold can be credited to the house contents (as it is believed that house contents do not attract Stamp Duty). Well, there is some truth in this, provided that the house contents qualify – according to Inland Revenue’s definition – as only such items that are fittings (not fixtures which are deemed part of the house) can be valued. Ask your Solicitor for what contents qualify. But remember they can only be valued at market rate (i.e ebay second hand value) which is surprisingly lower than you might think. If you make the valuation to high, or include fixtures, then the Inland Revenue can consider it a fraud, and all parties to the fraud, movers, lawyers and Agents can all be fined, and worst case suffer imprisonment.



TIP 13 – Understand the actual legal process. Trethowans have prepared two downloadable guides, one for a sale and one for a purchase.

Please remember that the legal process is divided into two stages, an exchange of contracts (the point you reach once your finances are in place, the legal papers and your survey is acceptable – and after which you cannot back out) and the date of Completion. Usually these are separated by time, so that once an exchange occurs, you then have a week or two gap to

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