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Moving home - what to remember

Useful tips and key things to think about if you are planning to move, from selling your house to removal firms.

Buying or selling your home is likely to be one of the most stressful things you ever do in life. 

When you decide you want to move, you’ll of course have to find a buyer for your own home. Once you’ve exchanged contracts, you can relax a little but there’s still the matter of firming up your moving plans.

Here are some key things to think about....

Getting your home ready for selling can be a hard task, especially if you’ve lived there for a number of years. Often we ignore the scuff marks on the walls and maybe overlook all those unused possessions  that have piled up. When potential buyers visit, these minor disadvantages could mean the difference between a sale and a fail.

So fix everything you can, make everything clean, tidy and mess free and use the experience as an excuse to purge your life of all the unnecessary tat you have lying around. 

Make sure that every room has a purpose (don’t have your exercise bike in the dining room) and don’t be afraid to add a lick of paint to worn out walls or furniture. 

Possibly the most important thing is to make the front of your house as attractive as possible – it’s the first thing buyers will see. So paint the front door, tidy the porch, trim the hedges and fix the fence to get the buyers in a good mood before they step over the threshold. 

And, if all else fails, stick some vanilla extract and water on a low heat to at least make your home smell more homely!
This is a tedious part of moving, but a comprehensive checklist of people to notify helps the process run as smoothly as possible. 

The most important are banks, credit and store cards, pension and share providers, insurance companies, loan providers, Council Tax, employers, schools, your broadband provider, and your doctor. 

Remember to organise switching off your phone line, internet connection and all your utilities, as well as arranging for them to be connected at the other end. Maybe use this as the perfect time to shop around for best prices using comparison sites such as uswitch or Go Compare.
 
Use the Royal Mail redirection service to automatically forward your post to your new address. You can do this for up to a year and it's especially important these days as identity theft is on the increase.
Get three written quotes from established removal firms, and ideally use personal recommendations. Ensure they are members of either the British Association of Removers (BAR) or the National Guild of Removers and Storers (NGRS), both of which can also recommend firms.
 
Research the firm and request references if you have any concerns as we are talking about both monetary and emotionally valuable items. Most importantly, don’t assume the cheapest is the best. Whilst people see removals as an unskilled job, there’s lots of risk involved. Also remember quotes may not be comparable. Does the quote include VAT? Does it cover insurance of your possessions in transit?
 
Look at paying for getting everything packed professionally. There is a chance insurance won’t cover items you’ve packed yourself. Packing can also be time-consuming and frustrating. Sometimes it's worth paying someone else to do it. 
 
Don’t take for granted that all your furniture will automatically fit into your new property. For larger shaped items, do check the removal company can dismantle it.
 
Do consider cancellation insurance particularly if you are in a chain as a last minute problem may necessitate the need to change the date. 
 
Also don’t forget the simple things such as colour-coding your boxes so you know which room they are intended for.
 
If you decide to move yourself, hire a van from a reputable hire car or van company and always look around the van before collection to check for any scratches or dents. “A man with a van” is another option, but ensure they have a proper address rather than a PO box number and a landline rather than just a mobile phone number.
Storage can be very useful if you've sold your own home and want to enjoy the advantage of being a cash buyer. Do check the Self Storage Association for details on the options near you.
There’s no better time for a clear-out than when moving home. 

Declutter one room at a time, including all cupboards, cabinets and drawers – not forgetting the loft and garage. 
 
Decuttering will save you time and money that could be used to buy things you really need for the new house. By disposing of items you no longer need, your removal quote will be less. Think about items that could be reused rather than sending  them to landfill. Sites like Freecycle and Gumtree are worth a look. 
 
If you can arrange it, clean the carpets in your new house before you move in as it’s much easier than when your furniture is all in place.
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives a rating of how energy efficient a home is and recommends how this could be improved. Each property is given a rating from 1 to 100 and a letter G to A. The higher the number the more energy efficient the property is (A is the most efficient rating and G the least). Any home that is advertised for sale or rent must have an EPC, which costs around £60 to £100.
 
EPCs are valid for ten years. An example EPC is available on gov.uk.
 
To find an accredited energy assessor in England, Wales and Northern Ireland use the Department for Communities and Local Government website.
There are plenty of ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home. 

A few, such as double glazing, or fitting solar panels, can be expensive; cheaper options involve looking more deeply into where energy loss occurs within your own property.
 
Here are some ideas that may help you reduce your bills:
  • Consider getting a smart meter fitted to measure how much gas and electricity you're using. You'll be able to see how much it's costing you on a handy in-home display.
  • Install solar panel electricity systems, (also known as solar photovoltaic’s) to capture the sun’s energy using photovoltaic cells and convert it into electricity. These cells will even generate some electricity on a cloudy day. Take expert advice so you will know how long it will take to get your money back on this long-term investment.
  • Switch energy supplier to ensure you always have the best tariff from your supplier. Shop around every now and then for a better deal.
  • Upgrade your boiler as an old, inefficient boiler can substantially add to your energy bills.
  • Insulate your loft and cavity walls which will keep more of your home’s heat inside.
  • Install double glazing, another very efficient way of stopping heat loss.
  • Buy a water-saving shower head which will reduce both how much water and how much energy you use.
  • Use LED energy bulbs. Many have a rated life of up to 50,000 hours, which is approximately 50 times longer than a typical incandescent and 20-25 times longer than a traditional halogen bulb (although they are of course more expensive).
  • Use the timer to control the heating and lower the thermostat whenever necessary.
  • Don’t waste energy, so turn off lights, make sure taps aren’t running or dripping, only fill the kettle with as much water as you need and don’t over-charge your electronic devices.
You might be someone who qualifies for a grant to help you improve your home’s efficiency. Find out more by going to the Energy Saving Trust's website.
Fact files, which include instruction leaflets and service information for the heating system and appliances you’re leaving, can be a big help to the people who move into your old property. Compile one for the people who are moving into your home and ask for one to be put together for your new property.
 
A fact file should also include details of rubbish collection dates, recycling schemes, doctors, dentists and other useful services. And assuming you know yourself, useful information such as where the stopcock is located. 

The fact file you provide should eliminate the need for endless phone calls and emails but it’s also worth including your phone number just in case the new residents need to contact you.
Where possible ensure you are child and pet free on the day and get back any keys you have entrusted to family, friends or trades people. Consider changing the locks in your new home as clearly you do not know who has a set of keys.
 
Do arrange for permission for the removal van to park outside the property if necessary.   

If you’re renting, check the itinerary very carefully and always get your new version countersigned by the agent or landlord. Even the smallest crack in the paintwork can become a big crack during the time you live there and you don’t want to lose your deposit.
 
Introduce yourself to neighbours as soon as possible after moving in. It’s a friendly gesture and will normally mean they are more helpful about giving you some advice about the area.

Thinking of moving home?

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