Moving tips

Moving house checklist for buyers




Buying a house? Our Move checklist covers everything you need from the moment your offer is accepted, to the day you move in.

1. Confirm your mortgage

Even if you have a mortgage agreement in principal, it’s not binding – so don’t waste a second in submitting your official mortgage application to your chosen lender. The Mortgage Market Review (MMR) which landed in 2014, made the whole process a lot stricter, so some applications can take up to six weeks to come through.

Check out these 5 questions to ask yourself before applying for a mortgage.

How do you find the right mortgage deal?

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2. Instruct a conveyancer

It’s important you get this job done as soon as possible to account for unforeseeable delays in the purchase process.

If you don’t already have a conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer in mind, you can compare hundreds of options with Zoopla’s partner, The Move Assistant. Search by price, distance or level of service. All firms on the site are regulated by either the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

What is a conveyancer and what do they do? Find out with our step-by-step guide.

3. Commission a survey

So long as your mortgage has been officially agreed, now’s the time to commission a survey on the property. This could be a Condition Report, Homebuyer Report or Building Survey. Always use a RICS-accredited surveyor.

Remember that a mortgage valuation is not the same as a survey – it’s only for the lender to check the property is adequate security for the sum you want to borrow. And second, you might not need a survey at all, for example if are buying a new-build home which comes with an NHBC Buildmark 10-year warranty.

What type of survey do you need? 

4. Kick off the clear out

Next on your moving home checklist has to be the clear out. Start with the parts of your home you use the least – garage, loft and spare bedrooms for example – and list anything you don’t need on eBay. Especially when you’re moving house, cash is a lot more useful than junk.

5. Establish an estimated moving day

Next on your ‘moving checklist for buyers’ is to get a provisional completion date (ie, when you will actually move) from your estate agent. The whole chain will need to be in place first and exchange dates will then follow suit.

6. Think about removals

Now think about (and budget for) removals. Bear in mind that mid-week slots are likely to be cheaper than weekend ones.

If you’re doing the move yourself, think about packing supplies – everything from boxes to bubble wrap and dust covers – as well as van hire and potential storage. But, in either case, don’t book anything until your completion date is confirmed or you could lose money.

7. Plan ahead and order early

Consider the jobs that will need doing well in advance. Sofas and beds can take six weeks to arrive from the date of order, for example. And you’ll need at least 30 days to switch broadband to your new address.

Find out if you’ll need a resident parking permit or even a parking bay suspension (so you can pull up right outside the property) on Move Day. Either can take the relevant local authority up to 10 working days to process.

You may also want to redirect your post, measure windows so you can order blinds or curtains in advance or even book in a deep-clean service.

Buying a new sofa? Ask yourself these 5 questions first

8. Source the right tradespeople

If you’re buying a doer-upper, find a tradesman in your area. Give yourself plenty of time as the best ones can get booked up.

9. Finalise the completion date

Now get a final completion date when you can move into your new home. Before completion can take place, all parties in the chain will need their legal work sorted and mortgages agreed.

Once you have a Move date finalised, book it in with your chosen removal company. Just like with holidays or flights, usually the earlier you book, the cheaper the deal.

10. Exchange contracts

Now you’ve reached exchange you'll need to pay a deposit of 10% of the property value (or 5% if you're taking a 95% mortgage) to your solicitor.  This is when the purchase becomes legally binding, so if you back out the money will be lost. You could even be sued by the seller.

As you become responsible for the property as soon as contracts are exchanged, you’ll need to get buildings insurance in place from the start of that day, or preferably even before.

11. Complete and Move

The day you complete is the day you must pay the balance on the home you are buying (which usually comes from the mortgage lender), as well as outstanding fees such as stamp duty and the cost of legal work.

But, Mark Hayward, director at the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) warns that, as this process applies to the whole chain and all transfers must be cleared funds, you might not get into your new home as soon as you hoped. “Sometimes people don’t get the keys until 4pm on Move Day which can really throw things. It’s worth having a contingency in place in case this happens.”

12. Get the locks changed

Once you’ve moved in, get all locks changed as a matter of priority. You’ve got your hands on the keys but there's no guarantee that half of the town hasn't either.

13. Sort bills and utilities

The most important job now is to log details of your new address with your car insurer, or your cover could be invalidated. You’ll also need to update your VC5 book but this is easy (and usually free) to do online.

Next, get on the electoral role at your new address. You won’t be able to vote otherwise and it can damage your credit score. And register with the local authority so you can start to pay council tax.

Where does your council tax go? Find out here.

But some jobs can actually put pounds back in your pocket. If you switch energy supplier to the cheapest deal for example, you can lop more than £600 a year off your bills. It’s easy to compare energy deals on uSwitch.

Find out what you need to know about moving home and your energy supply.

Do the same for home insurance too – now your circumstances have changed you could be in line for a better deal without having to forfeit any cover.

You won’t have a choice in your water supplier, but find out which one it is at Ofwat’s website and call up with details of your move date.

Finally, make sure your TV licence is transferred to your new address and that you’ve informed all contacts, from banks to schools.

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14. Put your feet up

Once you’re in and secure in your new home, most of the hard work is done. So, amid the rest of the ongoing chores, don’t forget to schedule in some time to relax with a bottle of wine and a takeaway.

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