Safe as houses?

PUBLISHED: 13:34 14 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:00 20 February 2013

Peter Still

Peter Still

Moving house? Follow our tips from the experts and make it as stress-free an experience as possible

Most people will have read that moving home can be one of the most stressful things to go through. If you haven't moved house before, it is important to keep stress to a minimum, in order to make the process as pain free as possible.

Firstly, before you start looking for a property, find out how much you can borrow. You should speak to a number of lenders to see how they can assist you. Alternatively, you can utilise the services of an independent financial advisor (IFA), who will be able to effectively reduce your leg-work and find a deal that will suit your circumstances. Make sure you get an option that works for you long term.

Once you have determined how much you can borrow, make a checklist of what you require from your new home and how important each of the factors is, so that when viewing you can decide which you may be prepared to compromise on. Sadly, compromise is a necessary part of the process.

Once you have made an offer on a property and it is accepted, you will need to instruct a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to deal with the property purchase. If possible, always go by personal recommendation. Most firms will provide a written estimate first.

Often on the telephone you will be able to get the feel for the firm with regard to efficiency and friendliness. Also check out the firm's website, which will give you a better an idea and feel for the firm.

You must make arrangements with your mortgage lender for them to carry out the necessary valuation survey and issue the appropriate offer.

It is also recommended that you have a full RICS Homebuyers Report prepared by a qualified surveyor. This will cost more than a mortgage valuation (around £450) but it's money well spent. When you buy a property, it is 'sold as seen' and it's up to you to discover any defects by means of inspection and surveys.

Remember, a house is the single biggest purchase that most of us make in our lifetime; if you find a fault, you may be able to negotiate a lower price or get the seller to put it right. Your solicitor will then deal with all the necessary legal formalities.

You may need to book a removal firm and if so, get several quotations. If you are considering doing the move yourself, ensure that your transport is large enough for your belongings and that you have enough help!

It is worth having a clear out at this stage - discard any unwanted items or send them to a charity shop. Also think whether you are going to need to book time off work and look for potential dates when you may be available.

Do be realistic about this and do discuss this with your solicitor as any moving dates will need to be agreed with everyone in the chain. This is important especially if you are renting and need to give notice to your landlord.

Once contracts are exchanged you can then notify utility companies of your move, arrange to have your post redirected and pack a 'survival kit' - a bag with emergency items such as a change of clothes, toiletries and toilet rolls.

On moving day, make sure that you have key personal possessions to hand - your driving licences, passports, jewellery and money. Finally, at the end of the day, order a takeaway and open a bottle of wine to celebrate!

Specialising in conveyancing, Peter Still deals with all aspects of buying and selling residential property and has more than 20 years' experience advising and assisting clients in their property matters. Having first qualified as a legal executive in 1986, Peter then qualified as a solicitor in 1995, joining Whitehead Monckton the following year. He is also Secretary of Whitstable Round Table.

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