Moving house? Prepare yourself...
After 15 happy years living in Harrow, my partner and I decided to relocate to the north. Running a company based in the North West, the four hour journey and staying in a hotel three nights a week had finally lost its appeal for my other half, so our home was put up for sale and the adventure began...
According to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, which was devised in 1967 to analyse the 43 most stressful life events, moving house rated as '20' life change units. To put that into perspective, number one on the list with 100 life change units is the death of a spouse. So with those numbers, moving house should be an absolute breeze!
Let me tell you, it was not a breeze. If I was a drama queen, I would probably describe it as being a category five hurricane (catastrophic damage will occur). I'm not sure that we could have prepared any better for the move but to save your sanity, let me share with you some of the things to look out for:
Choosing your Estate Agent
There are various elements to bear in mind when picking who will sell your home.
1) How well does the agent know the area?
2) What is their sale rate history?
3) You should be looking for at least three Estate Agency valuations. Is their valuation realistic? What is their view of the market at the moment?
4) What commission rate do they charge?
5) Will they conduct all the viewings for you?
6) Getting a recommendation from someone you know will be a big bonus but testimonials could also steer you in the right direction too
7) Are you looking for a regular estate agent with a local office or would one of the online companies be sufficient? The latter offer great cost savings but there may be more work for you to do with viewings etc
8) Have a look at the photographs of the properties they are advertising. Having great quality images of your home can make a huge difference so make sure you're happy with the quality of the images even if you have to pay more for upgraded photography
Choosing your legal team
As above, getting a personal recommendation for your legal representative will pay dividends and even if this isn't possible, your Estate Agent will be able to recommend local conveyancers that they have dealt with previously. Note to self: there will be at least two legal teams dealing with the sale/purchase of your property and they work at their own pace. There are reams of forms to be completed and lots of jargon to wade through and everything takes longer than it really needs to. Ours was a very straight forward sale with no chain for which we were advised that the process should take between 8-12 weeks. 16 weeks later, the sale was complete...
Have a clear out in advance
Removal companies are not cheap, so getting them to move things that you no longer need or use anymore is a complete waste of time and money. Taking some time to go through all your rooms (and especially the loft and garage) and segregate the stuff you don't plan to take with you will be time well spent. This will also give you enough time to sell, give away or donate your unwanted items. eBay, Gumtree and your local charity shops are great channels to dispose of these items. And if you have furniture you no longer require, the British Heart Foundation can arrange collection for you. We had several trips to the household recycling centre too but don't forget that in some areas, you will be required to book these trips in advance because of Covid restrictions. If you don't have the right transport to do this, you can also involve your local council or a licensed rubbish collection service - both of which will charge depending on the size of items to be collected and will require booking in advance.
Choose your removal company wisely
We had four removal companies quote for our move and their prices differed greatly; between £2500 and £4800 for the same service for a three bedroom property. Depending on how involved you want to be, you can choose from a variety of options:
1) Basic move service where you do all your own packing, disassembly of furniture etc
2) Move service with packing - the removal firm will come the day before / day of your move and pack the contents of all your drawers, cupboards, wardrobes etc
3) Some companies will also include the disassembly and reassembly of furniture which is too big to move built up
Some removal firms may be very fast and efficient and get move day done and dusted in extra quick time, but they might also cause damage to your furniture because of the speed they're moving at.
You might also want to confirm whether you will be moving out and in on the same day. Especially for longer distance moves, most removal firms will load on day one and deliver on day two but you might want to check this out before booking. If move day is only one day, it gets it over and done with quicker but it makes for a VERY long day. A two day move also gives you the opportunity to make sure that your new home is suitably clean before your belongings move in.
Prepare yourself a checklist
This should include all the things you need to do prior to the move, during the move and after the move and will differ greatly from one household to the next. If you're super organised, adding deadlines to your list will be really advantageous. You might want to include a list of all household contacts who will need to be notified of your move (e.g. financial institutions, health contacts, utilities etc). Getting your mail redirected with the Post Office is an absolute must but if you have a list of everyone who needs to be informed of the move and how they require you to do this, you can check ahead of time how much notice they require (you may incur additional costs if you don't stick to the notice period). This will also make notification much easier as you can simply fly down the list quick-time when your move dates are confirmed.
Expect that things will go wrong
No matter how well prepared you are, things can (and will) go wrong. You can't plan ahead for everything, so you may have to accept that there will be glitches along the way and just roll with the punches when they occur.
Moving home in the middle of a global pandemic, a national lockdown, four days before Christmas and in the pouring rain - now that's what I call an adventure!