Top Tips For a Smooth Move - By Sheelagh Wright Author of the blog HIMMEANDOURTHREEBLOG
If you have been following our progress, you’ll know that we are old hands at this moving lark by now (you can read more about our previous house moves here). That being said, moving is always a stressful business and there are no guarantees that it gets easier the more you do it. Here are my top tips on how to make the process go as smoothly as possible if you are planning a move.
1. Choose your estate agent and solicitor wisely
Get at least two and ideally three valuations for your home from different estate agents. Do your research before you decide who to list your home with. What is the average house price in your area? Have any of your neighbours sold recently and do you know what price similar properties to yours have achieved?
Don’t just assume that asking prices equal sale prices and be prepared to accept a lower offer if you need a quick sale. Meet the person who will conduct the viewings. If you have a good rapport with them, the chances are buyers will too.
When selecting a solicitor, ask around for recommendations. You want someone efficient who will be thorough without holding up proceedings with unnecessary queries and correspondence. Ask them for a list of their fees up front and ideally choose someone local to you as you may need to have files and legal papers hand delivered or visit them in person to sign documents. It is worth noting that in most cases you and the person on the other side of the sale cannot use the same solicitor as this would be a conflict of interest.
2. Tackle the snag list
Do you have lots of little jobs to do that might put buyers off; Leaking tap in the bathroom? Unsightly stain on the living room carpet? Paper peeling behind the sofa? (Maybe that’s just in our house).
You may not need to redecorate every room but do go through the house from front to back and top to bottom with a critical eye and make a list of the little jobs you have been putting off. Bring a friend along who will be brutally honest if necessary. There may be things that you no longer notice but that potential buyers will spot as soon as they come through the door. If a survey reveals that there is major work to be done, such as damp-proofing or removal of asbestos, you may need to negotiate a reduction in price unless you are prepared to do the work prior to completion.3. De-clutter
In the run up to the move, we did sixteen dump runs and filled two skips. We sent so much to the local charity shop that they had to start refusing to take donations so we started filling the local clothes recycling bins.
Before you even put your house on the market, begin the clear out. You don’t want to strip your house bare but buyers need to be able to imagine living there so it needs to be something of a blank canvas.
If you have children, do a toy blitz when they are at school or nursery or even when they are in bed. (I know, this is the last time you will feel like doing a clear out but it will be short-term pain for long term gain). If you clear out toys along with your children, trust me, they will ‘re-discover’ things they haven’t played with in years and nothing will get thrown out. Keep it as tidy as possible for viewings. There were occasions when I filled the car boot with laundry and craft supplies just because I had no-where else to hide them.
Things will get hectic in the run up to a move so pace yourself. It can be tempting to wait until you have a moving date to start packing but it will take you much longer than you think to sort through your belongings. Start with things you know you need to bring but don’t use every day. Do you have a set of ‘best china?’ Wrap it and box it up. Are you moving in the summer? Pack up heavy winter clothes etc.
It’s pretty disgraceful to think of the amount of ‘stuff’ we accumulated over ten years. We even found boxes in the garage containing wedding gifts and other items from our previous move that had never made it inside the house. Note to self- I must regularly de-clutter and reign in my husband’s shopping habit so it never gets to this stage again!
4. Make some moving money
We recycled and gave a large amount of goods to charity but we also sold some high-value items. I listed prams, clothes, furniture and even a jungle gym on gumtree and eBay. We also did a couple of car boot sales where the kids did most of the hard work of pricing and selling and they got to keep the profits towards items for their new bedrooms. Our total from selling online covered the cost of hiring a removals company so it was well worth the effort. It is also very satisfying to think that other families will get joy from the things that we no longer use. It does require time and patience, but that’s all the more reason to start de-cluttering early on.
5. Get taken to the cleaners
In the last couple of days before the move, it may be worth considering bringing laundry to be cleaned/ ironed. It is certainly worth bringing any large items such as curtains or rugs to the dry cleaners. Drop them off a few days before you move and you can pick up the freshly cleaned items once you are settled in and display them in your new home.
6. Have a packing room
If at all possible, have a packing room. If you have a room such as a dining room or spare bedroom, use it as a packing room and every time you fill a box, put it in there. If it can be close to the front/ back door, so much the better as it will make things quicker and easier on moving day.
Most people move to get more space so, if a spare room isn’t available, try to cordon off part of a room, use a garage or shed or even the cupboard under the stairs-just keep all your packed boxes together and out of the way. It means you are not tripping over boxes in every room of the house and simplifies things on moving day.7. Be systematic
It really helps when you are unpacking at the other end if you have labelled each box with its contents as you pack. You can pay professional movers to do your packing for you but unless you are moving to another country, you can easily devise a system that works and implement it yourself.
I labelled all boxes clearly with either A (to go inside the house and be unpacked immediately), B (to be stored inside) and C (to be stored outside in the garage). The boxes were then labelled depending on where they were to go in the house and numbered so I knew how many boxes I had in total. I listed each item I put into each box on a notepad so I could check them off and give clear instructions to the removals guys.
For example A1 Kitchen was the box containing mugs and tea bags, cutlery, plates and at least two wine glasses!8. Book a professional removals company
If you don’t have much to move and you have a mate with a van who is willing to help you, you might get away without hiring a professional. If you have more than one bed, one sofa and a wardrobe to shift, however, I’d highly recommend not going it alone.
If you are taking light fixtures or other fittings, you made need an electrician to remove those and make good the fitting that is left. Do your research when it comes to removals companies and book one with a good reputation and proven experience. Good removals firms get booked up quickly, particularly on Fridays and Saturdays so book them as soon as possible.
I realise that my labelling system and de-cluttering efforts may be giving the impression of being super-organised (or border-line insane) but I have no reason to be smug. Cards on the table here- my best laid plans went to pot with a poor choice in removals services. For reasons outside our control, our moving date moved many times before we did and I couldn’t confirm a definite date. There were six people in our chain and, by the time we did confirm, everyone else in the chain had booked their slot.
I ended up going with a company that gave lots of assurances and looked great on their website but turned up on the day with a tiny van that was totally unsuitable for our purposes. They got very hot and bothered doing lots of runs backwards and forwards and it meant we were late moving out and had to enlist the help of friends and family to get the job done.9. Be courteous
Make a home owners file. There are things such as gas safety certificates, building control approvals, deeds of ownership etc that you will need to provide through your solicitors. To add to this, as you clear out, gather a file of warranties and instructions for items you are leaving e.g. cooker, boiler, alarm system. Leave these in a file with notes about how to work the heating, what day the bins go out and any other relevant information that might help the new owners to settle in.
This isn’t just being altruistic. It avoids any unnecessary contact after exchange with frustrated purchasers. I always leave a bottle of bubbly and a couple of glasses with a new home card too. The house will never look as good empty as it did when the new owners last viewed it so these little touches will make it feel like home.10. Synchronise watches
Speak to both the buyer of your house and the vendor’s estate agent to agree a time when you can begin moving into your new property and when you will be expected to give vacant possession.
Legally, as soon as funds have been transferred to pay for a house, the new owner has the right to demand that you leave immediately. I have lots of friends who have had new owners breathing down their necks and trying to move furniture in while they were still moving out.
This is another reason to make sure you have a good relationship with your estate agent and solicitor. Ours were able to negotiate an early moving in time and a late move out time for us on the basis that we are a family of five (with all the detritus that this brings) moving into a house owned by a bachelor and selling to a couple with no kids. Simply put, we had a lot more “stuff” to move than the other parties involved in the sale and we needed all the latitude we could get in the end.
When all is said and done, you can never guarantee a ‘smooth move’ but hopefully these steps will give you a head start. My last piece of advise is simple. When you get into your new home, don’t be tempted to try to unpack everything immediately. I tried to do that and my next post gives the gory details of how that did NOT work out. Sit down (on the floor if you have to), unpack box A1 Kitchen if you can find it, remove a wine glass and pour yourself a glass of whatever alcohol you can find. You have earned it!
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