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What to check before saying ‘Yes!’ to your new home

When you consider a new property, there’s loads to be thinking about, from the fixtures and furnishings to where you’ll eat your breakfast in the morning. In some cases, it’s so easy to visualise yourself in your new home, you miss out on some of the practical problems. In this post, the team at Really Moving show us the “five ‘S’s” to look out for, to make sure your new home doesn’t let you down!

Security

When choosing a new place to live, especially if it’s an area you’re unfamiliar with, you’re going to want to feel safe. Considering the safety aspects of the property will allow you to make an educated decision. You can look at sites like police.uk and see what crimes have been committed in the area (be sure to check your existing postcode too, just in case it seems shocking – you may find your own area had quite a few issues without you knowing!).

If there have been issues near the property, then it’s worth being very careful about security, and assessing the property on a visit.

What is access to the property like? Is there a garden gate to the front, or an easy way to get onto a flat roof? What does the garden back on to?

These don’t have to be deal-breakers, but knowing about access points will make it easier for you to secure your new home. It will also help when getting home insurance, and ensuring you get a great rate.

If you do think the property requires more security, look into what changes you could make, from simple fixes like sensor lights and a visible security system, to improving locks or making fences taller.

bright decluttered organised sitting room with couch

Storage

The holy grail of housing – what’s the storage like? If you’re lucky, the property will have built in storage, but if not, look for opportunities to maximise usable space. Window seats with an empty bench, ottomans that can hold blankets, under cupboard areas that could hold shelves or drawers.

Don’t forget to check whether there is a shed (and if it’s included) along with what the loft space is like and if it’s easily accessible and properly insulated.

The best thing you can do when buying a new home is to clear all your clutter in advance of your move. This stops you paying more money to move (and possibly store) your items, only for them to take up space in your new home.

Most people will want to decorate their new home in a different way to their previous one, or if it’s your first property, you’ll have the chance to co-ordinate and decorate as you like. In many cases, your older items don’t fit with the new aesthetic. If you know you’re planning to completely start over in your new home, don’t bother bringing all your old items with you.

If you’re upsizing, you may be surprised at how much space you have for all your items, but if you’re moving to a small flat, or downsizing from a bigger home, be sure to invest in furniture that doubles up as storage.

Structure

A Chartered Surveyor will able to tell you how structurally sound the property is. Issues like damp or subsidence can have a long term impact on how liveable your property is, and how its value will change over time. You can also take the opportunity to consider any structural changes you might like to make to the property, and what’s possible.

If you’re considering buying an older property that will need some TLC to turn into your dream home, a Building Survey is probably your best option. These are for older properties, or ones that have had significant work done to them, or you will do work to in the future.

An in-depth survey also gives you negotiating power with the seller – if you will need to spend money to fix elements of the property before you move in, you could use the survey to ask for a reduction in price. Your survey will often also tell you how much those improvements might cost.

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Saving

Speaking of costs, do you know how much your property will cost you long term? No, we don’t mean the mortgage payments. By checking the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of your future home, you’ll be able to see how energy efficient the property is, and how you can save money on your bills. The EPC will tell you what improvements could be made to make the home more energy efficient, from big changes like solar panels, to the small ones like energy-saving lightbulbs. An EPC needs to be updated every 10 years, so make sure your seller’s one is up to date, so there are no nasty surprises down the line.

Space

When it comes to what makes a home, space and light are key. But don’t forget that even the smallest space has the opportunity to be improved – painting a room a lighter colour, introducing hidden storage spaces and not over-filling the area with clutter can make a big difference. That’s why we always recommend clearing as much as you can before you move, so you can decide how to make the most of the space your new home affords.

By looking into whether your future home could be extended, and whether there are any planning permission issues, you’ve effectively planned for the future and added value to your new home already. Space is always a good thing, and so looking at your potential new property with an understanding eye, and being willing to do the work and make compromises will set you up in a home you can enjoy for years to come.

If you need help decluttering your home before you move, you can find your nearest APDO professional organiser here.

If you are considering buying a new home in 2019, reallymoving.com are a moving home comparison site, providing instant quotes for conveyancing, surveys and removals, along with helpful guides and tips to make moving home stress-free.

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Staging your home for sale

Selling your home can be an emotional and long process. Professional organiser Zoe Berry of Life / Edit shares her home staging tips in this blog post, to help make the process as stress free as possible.

Selling your house is well known to be one of life’s most stressful experiences, so anything you can do to ease the process must be a good thing. Home staging is something which is a standard part of the home selling process in some places (like north America) but here in the UK we are only just learning what a difference it can make both in terms of the speed of sale and profit you can make from your home. It’s amazing to think that buyers form an opinion in your home in around 10 seconds of walking in the door, so with that in context it’s incredibly important to make the right first impression. I recently staged a home for sale in Dundee and with a few tweaks and a keen eye, the property achieved 10% more than the pre-staging evaluation, and I only spent approx. 1% of the sale price on the changes.

Here are my top tips for getting the most out of your property when you are selling:

Start with your kerb appeal

There’s no point spending ages making the inside of your house look desirable if the outside isn’t up to the same standard.  It’s important to make your home as eye-catching as possible from as soon as potential buyers first see it. So tidy up plants and lawns, give the front door a lick of paint and make sure your door furniture is looking super shiny.

Declutter and depersonalise

The most important thing you can do to showcase your home to its best standard is to declutter, as many people simply cannot see past someone else’s possessions. It is important that buyers can imagine themselves living in your house which is more difficult if your surfaces are full of your family photos and mementos. One or two carefully chosen pictures and ornaments are great – you don’t want it to look stark, of course.  Cast your eye around and check that your surfaces and floorspaces are clear.

Check your flooring

What state are your carpets in? Are they patterned and dated? Or have they worn and need to be replaced? What about your wooden floors? Do they need to be re-varnished? Remember the more jobs people mentally tot up in their heads when looking round a property, the more likely they are to be put off from making an offer.

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Is your décor up to date?

When selling your home it’s best to consider a neutral palate. That crazy feature wallpaper might be your taste, but to appeal to the widest possible cross section of people it’s best to go sophisticated. A subtle background means that people can imagine their belongings in your home more easily. Make sure that curtains and blinds are in good condition and fit properly. Long curtains can make windows feel larger and blinds can be a good option for replacing dated curtains as low cost.

Check each room one at a time

Hall

Buy a new doormat for your porch and clear all the usual shoes, coats and bikes away. A top tip for the hall is to hang a mirror on the wall to bounce light around.

Sitting room

Really look at your furniture placement. Yes, that might be where you have always had that chair but could it be repositioned to show the room off more? Make sure your sofas are in good condition and brighten them up with some new cushions. Clear magazines and books off shelves and from under coffee table and put back only what looks good: a few mags on the table and some carefully chosen pieces on the shelves.

APDO - staging your home for sale decluttering organising kitchen

Dining Room

Consider how your dining table looks with no one seated at it. A runner and a bowl of fruit or some flowers make it look inviting. Make sure you show the room size off as much as possible. If this means playing about with the positioning of furniture then do!

Bathrooms

When decluttering and depersonalising, all the same rules apply to your bathroom as elsewhere in your home . For a bathroom it’s also key to clear away any ‘functional’ items such as cleaning products, toilet brushes, weighing scales and toothpaste and toothbrushes. Update even a tired looking bathroom with fresh new towels, well-chosen toiletries and fix anything that needs updating such as grout/sealant etc. This way you show the buyer the potential of your bathroom without breaking the bank.

Bedrooms

Make sure you bed is in the right position to show buyers the proportions of your bedroom. Declutter and stage the room channelling  ‘nice hotel room’ i.e. make sure the bedding is clean, ironed and the bed made well. Make sure your bedside tables and dressing tables are clear, with just a few photos and carefully chosen possessions on show which compliment the décor.

Kids’ stuff

Children’s toys should be sifted through and, although you can’t disappear all of them, a large amount should be put away for when buyers are viewing.

APDO staging your home for sale organising decluttering playroom

Appeal to all the senses

Make sure you home is warm enough, clean and as bright and cheerful as you can make it. If it’s a dull day and your house is dark, make sure you have replaced lightbulbs. If you have a pet you need to eliminate any associated odours by washing upholstery, cleaning carpets and using air fresheners and giving the house a good airing.

And finally

You are trying to make your home seem uncluttered, have plenty of storage but also loved and lived in. It’s a fine balance and it’s a difficult one to achieve when it is your own home – which is why you might consider employing a professional organiser who specialises in home staging. It will be totally worth it when your house sale goes through. Happy selling!

If Zoe’s post has inspired you to stage your home for sale you can find more information about your local professional organiser here.

forgotten moving house costs

5 forgotten costs of moving home

Moving house can be an expensive and stressful experience, that much is a given. But with 40% of buyers overspending on associated moving costs, it’s important to organise your finances by putting aside enough to help your home buying along, as well as making sure you’re getting a good deal.

Reallymoving aims to make moving home easier, and make those costs transparent, helping you to get quotes for surveys, conveyancing and removals. Once you’ve saved up the deposit, here are their 5 top areas you’ll likely need funds for and whether you can get a better deal:

Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty Land Tax is paid when a property is bought. The amount you pay is based on the price of the property, and is fixed by the government as follows:

Purchase price bands (£) Percentage rate (%)
Up to 125,000 0%
125,001 to 250,000 2%
250,001 to 925,000 5%
925,001 to 1,500,000 10%
Above 1,500,000 12%

Changes to Stamp Duty in the 2017 autumn budget mean that first time buyers are now exempt from paying Stamp Duty on properties up to £300,000, and will not pay any on the first £300,000 of a property worth up to £500,000.

How is a first time buyer defined? You can never have owned residential property before, either in the UK or abroad. If you are buying with a partner you both have to be first time buyers.

If you are buying a second home, or a buy to let property, a 3% increase on Stamp Duty has been introduced.

You must pay your Stamp Duty within 30 days of completing on your new property, and it can be paid through your conveyancing solicitor.

Conveyancing Fees

A conveyancing solicitor, or licensed conveyancer, will be able to formalise your sale, dealing with transferring money, paying fees and organising the transfer of the deeds. Conveyancing costs will include the time of your conveyancer, but also ‘disbursements’- these are fees associated with your purchase, that the conveyancer pays on your behalf. These include things like local searches of the property, paying estate agent fees, land registration fees and if you need to pay it, Stamp Duty.

You can work out an approximate cost of conveyancing using our moving cost calculator, as it will depend on whether you’re buying, selling, or both.

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Surveys

Getting a survey is one of the most important things you can do when buying a property, and remember, a survey is NOT a valuation. A mortgage lender will offer a valuation to assess how much they are willing to lend you. A survey however, carried out by a Chartered Surveyor, will check the quality of the house, from the foundations to the wiring, and make sure your investment is solid. A survey will tell you what issues may arise and how much it might cost to fix, giving you room to bargain when buying.

There are two main options: a HomeBuyer’s Report and Building Survey. A Building Survey is more in depth, recommended for older properties, those that have had a lot of work done to them, or ones you intend to do a lot of work on. A HomeBuyer’s Report has been recommended by RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) as a good, in depth option for most other homes. You can chat to your surveyor about which one suits your property.

Removals/Storage

You want to choose a great value removals team who can be depended on to turn up, but there are a few ways to manage costs and make sure you get the best deal. Choose a removals team who will survey your property – they can see how big the home is, if there’s any issues with access and parking, and can assess how much stuff you have and how long it will take to move. This means a more accurate quote and no nasty surprises.

Get rid of as much stuff as you can – throw away those old children’s toys and clothes from years ago, or even better, donate and sell stuff! Removals are charged based on the amount of stuff to move – the less you have, the cheaper it is. Engaging an APDO declutterer and organiser could help you reign in your belongings and help you identify what’s truly needed in the next phase.

Think about which items need to be disassembled in advance, and give your removals team notice that this is needed. Make sure you know exactly when you’re picking up the keys. Delays in conveyancing on the day can keep a removals team waiting around for hours, which you’ll be charged for.

Also work out if taking advantage of a packing service is better for you. A professional team know what they’re doing and can work efficiently, meaning safer items and less stress for you.

If there isn’t any crossover between leaving your old home and moving into your new one, paying for storage will be necessary. Look for companies that have great security at their units and maybe pick a removals company that can offer this along with their main services – it may work out cheaper for you. Consider if you need access to your items between moving days and if so, what times of day or the week you’d want to get in. As a rule of thumb, storage is more expensive the more flexible access you require.

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Insurance

When getting a mortgage, you will be required to purchase buildings insurance, starting from the day of exchange. Confirm with your existing insurers if you can transfer your home and contents policy to the new premise or if there are any admin charges to set up a new policy. Decide if you want to pay these policy costs upfront for the year or make monthly direct debits to manage cashflow during this period of heightened expenditure.

Most removals companies will have removals cover, but check their small print so you know the process for making claims, and whether this still applies if you have packed the boxes yourself. Be sure to make a list of any furniture/large items as well as your boxes (or better yet, number them as well as naming them with the contents, so you can tick them off on arrival). Be sure to compare removals companies’ rates and reviews, so you know you’re getting the best deal.

Planning for these supplementary costs can make your moving experience much more manageable; do your research well in advance so that you know likely timeframes when each cost will hit your bank balance. Always compare services to make sure you’re getting the best deal and avoid any unexpected extras.

Best of luck in your new home!