Fills the gaps other insurance leaves behind
Make the Move
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home
You’ve made the decision - you want to move property, or buy your first home.
Now the minefield of information you need to know gets opened.
So where do you start?
Buying a new property can sometimes
be a long and complicated process and
even if you have been through it before
it can still be a bit daunting.
The good news is that if you have a good
understanding of the process and some key tips
on how to plan your move, you can avoid the
common mistakes that often make the process
more stressful than it needs to be.
There are a lot of things that need to be done
when you’re planning to buy a new home. Our
simple 10 step plan provides handy tools and
checklists to help you through each stage of
the buying process.
The 10 step plan to buying a new home
1. Work out how much can you afford and a realistic budget
2. Find out how much you can borrow and arrange your mortgage in principle
3. Choose where you want to live and arrange viewings of properties in the area
4. Make an offer on the property you choose
5. Get your mortgage offer agreed by your lender
6. Have a survey and valuation made on the property
7. Hire a solicitor to manage the sale for you and exchange contracts
8. Get ready for your move
9. Finalise the contract with the solicitor
10. Moving day!
Now let’s look at some of the steps in more detail...
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 2
Step 1. How much can I afford and what is a realistic budget?
The first stage in planning your move is to have a good
understanding of what your current outgoings are so you can
get a clear idea of how any new mortgage costs will fit into
your existing budget. It’s a good idea to do a budget planner
for your existing expenditure and then do a forecast of what all
your new outgoings will be when you move home.
You should make an estimate of what your new council tax will be and ensure
you have enough money to cover the one off fees that you will incur. We’ll
explain more about these later. If you’re thinking of buying a flat or leasehold
property you should also include any service charges or ground rent in your
No-one has a crystal ball to work out what the economy is going to do in the
future. However, could you still afford the monthly repayment if the interest
rate on your mortgage goes up by 1%? It is worth working this out in advance
rather than running the risk of not being able to afford your new home over the
Pulling together a budget
Simply add up your total post tax income from all sources and then deduct
expenses such as:
• Mortgage or rent
• Petrol/Public transport fares
• Cost of the weekly food shop
• TV – cable/satellite
• Loan/credit card repayments
Try using our budget planner to guide you through.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 3
Don’t get forget to budget for one off costs
A common mistake that people make when budgeting for their
move is to forget to take into account the one off costs you will
incur in the process. In addition to having the cash available to
pay your deposit you will also need to have funds available to
cover these costs.
Here’s a list of most of the one off costs you need to consider and why you
need to pay them:
Estate Agents Fees
It’s only if you have a property to sell that you’ll need to budget for these costs.
Estate Agents fees can be charged either as a fixed fee agreed in advance or
as a small percentage of the price you eventually sell your property for. You
should always ask for a detailed breakdown of what services are included in the
fees you agree to pay.
Mortgage Arrangement Fees
Some lenders charge fees to cover the costs of setting up the mortgage. If this
applies it will be drawn to your attention at the time you choose your mortgage.
Sometimes this fee is paid in advance or it can be added into the costs of your
mortgage which you pay back in your monthly repayments. Remember, if it is
added to the amount you borrow then you will pay interest on this fee during
the term of your mortgage. A broker fee may also be payable to your mortgage
advisor in return for their services. You should ask your advisor if a fee is
payable in advance of them completing any work for you.
Lender’s Valuation Fee
This is a charge made by the lender to value the property you intend to
buy to ensure that it is worth what they are lending you. This valuation is
commissioned by the lender and they choose who will do the valuation on your
behalf, even though you are liable for the costs.
When choosing your mortgage you should always ask what charges apply.
Sometimes lenders offer free valuations as an incentive for you to take out your
mortgage with them.
When you have made an offer on a property and it has been accepted then it is
strongly advised that you arrange for an independent survey to be completed.
The legal work involved in buying a house is known as conveyancing, which
a solicitor will do on your behalf. There is no standard cost for conveyancing
services so it is a good idea to shop around for the best rate. You will also
have to pay for the legal work done by your lender’s solicitor. If you opt to use
the same solicitor as your lender this can save you money but you should still
compare the costs to other providers.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 4
Don’t get forget to budget for one off costs
These are checks made by your solicitor on your behalf and are usually
included in their charges. These searches check that there are no potential
planning problems such as planning permission on neighbouring properties or
plans for new roads nearby. These charges will usually be itemised under the
“Other fees and disbursements” section of your solicitor’s invoice.
Land Registry Fees
The Land Registry is a government department which holds records of the
owners of properties registered in England and Wales. When a property
changes hands there is a fee for transferring the register to the new owner. A
fee is charged for completing this service which also varies depending on the
value of your property. You solicitor will manage this for you and again this will
be itemised in the charges.
Stamp duty is a tax levied by the Government on all properties over £125,000.
The percentage payable is related to the value of your home at the time you
buy it. If you want to find out exactly how much stamp duty you will be liable
to pay see the HMRC website for more details www.hmrc.gov.uk/sdlt/intro/
rates-thresholds.htm You cannot borrow the amount you need to pay in
stamp duty as part of your mortgage so you need to make sure you have these
funds available in cash before you make a binding offer on a property.
Removal Fees and other costs
Most people hire a removal company to transfer all their belongings to the
new property. This will need to be booked as soon as you have a moving
date. Get a few quotes from some local companies to find the one which
suits you best. It’s also worth checking that the firm you go with has
insurance that covers any breakages whilst your belongings are in transit
as they will not be covered by your contents insurance.
Other costs you may not have thought of are any disconnection and
reconnection fees you may incur from utility companies (Gas, Electric,
Telephone and Sky) and the cost of any mail redirection. These should all
be taken into account.
Estate Agents may charge additional
marketing fees for advertising your
property in newspapers, which is not
included in their selling fee.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 5
Step 2. How much can I borrow and how do I arrange a mortgage in principle?
Most people believe that when going for a mortgage they will
be able to borrow 3 ½ times a single salary and 3 times a joint
salary. However, in reality how much you can borrow depends
entirely on your personal circumstances. Whilst the lending
decision is mostly made based on your income and current
outgoings other factors such as your credit rating and how
much deposit you can put down relative to the amount you
want to borrow will also be considered.
In the current climate, most lenders would like you to put down at least a
20% deposit of the total cost of the property you want to buy. A further factor
lenders take into account is how long you have been in employment with your
current company and whether or not you are self employed.
Any mortgage application you make will be “scored” by the lender to see how
closely you match their criteria of who they want to lend to. Each lender has
their own criteria that they score against, however all lenders will reference
credit reference agencies to check that your credit rating is adequate. Your
“credit rating” is calculated by these agencies and is based on your history of
borrowing and repayment. It also takes into account any other financial assets
or liabilities you may have and whether or not you have any County Court
Judgements made against your name. If you have a low credit rating you will
be considered a higher risk and could therefore be offered a less favourable
interest rate or not offered a mortgage at all.
There are many reasons why you could have a low credit rating and although
a credit reference agency won’t tell you exactly how they calculate your score
you can find out what your score is and how you can improve it. Our useful
contacts section provides details of these agencies and how to contact them.
It is worth checking your credit rating in advance of making a mortgage
application as if you are turned down for credit this can further damage your
If you want to get a very rough idea of what you can borrow, what the monthly
repayments will be and at what interest rate online comparison tools can
be a good place to start. Based on the details you enter about yourself, the
aggregator will provide a list of mortgage deals for you to consider and usually
formats the information in a way that enables you to compare products on
a like for like basis. Once you have your list and worked out what you think
looks best you can then approach a lender directly or if you feel you need more
advice go to a Mortgage Advisor or Independent Financial Advisor.
If you have a low credit
rating you will be considered a higher
risk and could therefore be offered a
less favourable interest rate.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 6
What type of mortgage should I go for?
When you take out a mortgage you agree to borrow a fixed
sum of money (referred to as the ‘Capital’) on which the bank
charges you interest. You are liable to pay back both the
capital and the interest over the term of the mortgage. The
choice between a Repayment and Interest only mortgage is
really a choice about how you pay back what you owe.
This type of mortgage pays off the interest and the ‘Capital’ over the term of
the mortgage so at the end of the mortgage term, your home is fully paid off
with nothing being owed to your banks or building society.
With this type of mortgage, you only repay the lender the interest portion
of the loan so the repayments are cheaper. But the drawback is that at the
end of the loan period, you still owe the original amount you borrowed at the
start. To make sure you have the money to repay your lender, you will need to
invest some money over the term of the mortgage and be confident that those
investments will deliver enough return to pay back the loan. Here are examples
of the various investments you could use to build up your funds:
This is a form of savings with life assurance included. They are not generally
available for new sales now, but if you have one already, you could use the
amount you get at the end of the policy to offset against your mortgage.
Pensions are tax efficient as you will receive tax relief on the payments you
make to your policy. The fund you build up within your pension can be used
on retirement to ‘buy’ a lump sum from the pension provider. This can then
be used to repay your mortgage. In addition, you will also receive a monthly
income from the pension policy. You have to meet certain criteria for a pension
policy, and make sure that you will be old enough to take the lump sum from it
when you will need to have repaid your mortgage – generally, the youngest age
you can take benefits is 55.
This is a tax-efficient savings policy – all the interest you get paid from it is tax
free. So over a number of years, your savings can grow to give you an amount
to repay your mortgage. The interest you will receive can go down or up,
depending on the economy. Having made the decision how you want to pay,
the next stage is to compare the types of mortgage available.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 7
There are many different types of mortgage available on the
market and it’s important that you understand fully what you’re
signing up to. These are the main types:
This means that the rate of interest you pay will remain ‘fixed’ for an agreed
amount of time usually a number of years. Terms of 2, 5 or 10 are most
common. This type of mortgage is great if you want certainty of what you’re
going pay each month to help you budget. However, if general interest rates
drop you will not benefit from this reduction. At the end of the initial term the
interest rate is fixed for the mortgage will revert to the lenders standard variable
interest rate. It’s often at this stage people review their mortgage deal against
what is available at the time.
With this type of mortgage your payments can go up or down throughout the
term of the loan. If the mortgage rate changes, your repayment will change. If
you opt for this type of mortgage you should make sure that
you have sufficient budget to take into account any increase that may occur
in the future.
This is a type of variable rate mortgage but the interest rate is linked to the
Bank of England base rate. The interest rate you are charged is usually 1 to 2%
above the Bank of England base rate. As the Bank of England rate changes
your mortgage rate will increase or decrease in line with that change.
This is a type of variable rate mortgage where a ‘Cap’ is set at the outset which
is an agreement with the lender that your mortgage rate will never exceed an
agreed percentage rate. This means you can benefit from any rate reduction
that occurs throughout the term of your mortgage whilst having the comfort
that you always know what the maximum budget you will need to set aside for
your mortgage repayments.
These mortgages give you back a cash lump sum at the beginning of the
mortgage. Although the cash may help you cover some of the fees you
incur when you are moving house, you should compare the costs of these
mortgages with other deals available.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 8
These types of mortgages combine a traditional mortgage loan with any
deposit accounts such as savings or current accounts you may have. An offset
mortgage works on the basis that for the calculation and charging of interest,
the outstanding mortgage debt is offset against any savings or money you have
in your current account. So if you had a mortgage of a £100,000 for example,
savings of £9,000, and £1,000 in a current account for the purpose of calculating
interest the £100,000 is offset to the £10,000 worth of savings. This means, you
would only be charged interest on £90,000 of your mortgage borrowing.
Irrespective of which route you take you should ensure that before you
commit to making an application that you know the following:
• All the costs associated with the mortgage – interest rates, application
fees, broker fees and the costs of valuations
• Whether or not the costs are payable up front or are added to the loan
• What the penalties are if you repay the loan early
• What rate of interest applies after any introductory offer period
• Is the mortgage portable if you decide to move again
• If there are any charges if you decide after making a mortgage
application not to proceed
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 9
Getting a Mortgage Agreement in Principle
Once you have chosen the lender and the mortgage you would
like to go with, the next stage is to get a Mortgage Agreement
in Principle from them. You will go through an application form
to establish whether the lender is prepared to lend you the
mortgage you have asked for.
You will be asked for details of your employment and your income and
outgoings. If you have a current mortgage you will also be asked for
details of that too. The lender will give you a yes or no decision based on this
information but you need to remember that this is an Agreement in Principle
and not a binding mortgage offer. This cannot be completed until you have
decided on the property you want to buy and the lender has valued it to be
confident it is worth the money they are lending to you.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 10
Step 3. Choosing your home and viewing properties
Before you get down to looking at specific properties you
should really think long and hard about the type of area and
neighbourhood you want to live in.
The location of a property is one of the biggest factors in how much its worth
and how easy it will be to sell in the future so it’s important to get this right. If
you’ve lived in an area all your life you’ll already have a good idea of where the
best places to buy are. However, if you’re thinking of relocating it’s really worth
having a drive around the various areas you’re considering at different times
on different days to get a better feeling of what it would be like to live there. It’s
worth trying to do the journey to work in the morning from your chosen area
to see what it’s like at rush hour. It’s also worth walking around the area at
different times of day to see what the neighbourhood is like and check out how
comfortable you feel.
If you want to know whether you’re moving to an up and coming area, a good
indicator is something called ‘Gentrification’. This is when an area has an
abundance of cafes, bars and trendy design shops. Another good sign is if new
homes or flats are being built in an area by property developers.
www.upmystreet.com and www.zoopla.co.uk are just two of the websites
on the internet that contain a wide range of information about local house
prices and trends, schools, crime rates and much more. The local government
site www.direct.gov.uk can also give you information about schools, local
activities, transport links etc which can also help you with your decision.
Things to consider:
• How far away from family and friends will you be?
• Is it close to schools you want your children to go to? Will you be in the
catchment area for these schools?
• Is public transport essential to you for commuting – if so, how far away
from stations/buses can you be?
• How close to shops and amenities do you want to be?
• Will you have enough car parking spaces?
• What council tax band will you be in?
• Is there easy access to healthcare?
– Hospitals, GPs etc
• What is the level of crime in the area? Getting a copy of the local
newspapers will give you a good idea of this.
• What is the neighbourhood like? Are the other houses in the street in
good condition? If they’re poorly maintained or the area generally looks
a bit shabby this could bring down the value of your property.
Once you’ve narrowed down the search a bit more it’s worth speaking to
people who actually live there and ask for their honest opinions of the best and
worst points of the area.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 11
Now the search begins! Looking for your ideal property
A good place to start looking is online property sites. These
sites will give you access to a range of estate agents with
properties that are currently on the market in the area you want
to move to.
Property sites that are currently very popular are www.rightmove.co.uk,
www.primelocation.com, www.findaproperty.com, and www.zoopla.co.uk.
Not all the properties available in a particular area will be advertised on these
sites. Some independent estate agents may not advertise with these sites so
it’s still worth visiting local estate agents offices and looking in the property
pages in the local newspapers.
If you’re not in a hurry to move and fancy buying a brand new property,
another place to look is house building companies. You will usually only be
able to visit a show home on the development and you have to be prepared
to buy your home “off plan”. Buying a house before it’s even been built can
be a little too nerve racking for some people.
Auction properties are normally redevelopment projects, repossessions or
estate sales where the property has been vacant for some time. Unless you
have experience it’s probably best to leave it to the experts. This is the reason
why many of the properties sold at auction are to builders and property
developers. If you want to explore this route you can get some
further guidelines on buying at auction from www.uknetguide.co.uk.
Leasehold or Freehold?
When choosing which properties to go for you should always check whether
or not the property is sold as Freehold or Leasehold. Freehold means that you
own the land on which the property is built. Leasehold on the other hand does
not include the land on which the property is built – instead you pay a ground
rent to the owner of the land – the freeholder. You only have the right to
occupy the property for the length of time left on the lease. It is common for
Flats to be sold on a leasehold basis. It is always worth checking the amount
of time left on the lease for any leasehold property as this will affect the value
of the property.
Another source of properties for sale is property auctions. Although buying a
home at auction can be cheaper than buying through other traditional routes
it is also much riskier as you will be unable to get the property surveyed
before you start bidding. You will also be required to have the full mortgage
offer agreed in advance and you will have to get your solicitor to do some
work in advance to ensure that there are no legal issues with the property you
propose bidding on.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 12
Getting the best from viewings
Once you have made a shortlist of properties you’re interested
in you should contact the estate agent to arrange a time for
you to view. When you visit the property you should make
notes about the property against the following criteria:
How closely does the property meet your wish list? What is the general state
of repair and general decoration of the property? What fixtures and fittings are
included in the sale? Fixtures and fittings include kitchen appliances, carpets
and curtains. What is the state of repair of the rest of the houses in the street?
Does this suggest the area is thriving or going down hill?
Heating, power and plumbing
Is the property centrally heated? If it is how old is the system? When was the
last time the boiler was serviced? Is the roof well insulated? If you go in the
loft and turn off the light you shouldn’t be able to see any patches of daylight
through the roof. Is the house fully double glazed? How old is it? Are the
pipes and the boiler lagged? How old is the plumbing? How old are the plug
sockets and light switches? Old fashioned switches may suggest that the
house needs rewiring.
The best house hunters write notes
on each property they view and
compare them. This enables you to
get a good sense of what you can get
for your money.
Potential problem areas
Look out for evidence of subsidence. From the outside of the house you should
look for big cracks in the walls, a bent chimney stack or an uneven roofline.
From the inside look for big cracks in walls or ceilings and also try shutting the
internal doors. Doors that stick or don’t hang correctly could
also suggest subsidence.
A musty smell when you enter the property could indicate that it has a damp
problem. Look for mould, or discolouration to paint or wallpaper. Flaking wallpaper
or paint could also be due to damp. From the outside you should also
check for missing roof tiles or cracks in the brickwork which could also
let in damp.
This is harder to check for but lots of small holes in banisters, door frames and
floor boards could indicate woodworm.
Root damage to foundations
If there are any very large trees close to the property this can cause problems
which a survey should identify.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 13
Step 4. Making an offer
Although the Estate Agent will have detailed what the sellers
asking price is you should not make the mistake of assuming
this is what you have to pay for the house you choose.
Ultimately, a house is only worth what someone is prepared to
pay for it and there are many factors that can affect what price
the seller will settle for.
It’s worth doing some research on how much comparable homes in the area
have sold for. Although the value can differ if there have been extensions
or renovations completed this information provides a useful benchmark on
what houses in the area you’re going for can command. Websites such as
www.mouseprices.co.uk and www.nethouseprices.co.uk provide data
based on the sold prices for properties registered with the Land Registry.
It’s definitely worth haggling - start by making an offer that is less than the
asking price. The seller can always try to negotiate upwards but you’ll find it
much more difficult to try and reduce an initial offer if you go straight in with the
You should always confirm that any offer is “subject to contract and survey”.
This means that you are not legally bound to proceed until a satisfactory
survey and legal contracts have been completed. Make sure that your offer
is confirmed in writing and details what fixtures and fittings you expect to be
included in the sale.
As soon as you have made an offer which is subject to contract and the seller
has accepted it you should request that the seller takes the house you want
When making an appointment to view a property it’s worth asking the
seller or estate agent the following questions:
• How long has the house been on the market?
• How much interest has been shown?
• Are the sellers looking for a quick sale?
• Have the sellers already found somewhere they want to move to?
• What is the reason the seller is moving?
The answers to these questions will give you a view on how open the
sellers will be to you making an offer which is below the asking price.
to buy off the market. This prevents a situation where another potential buyer
could “gazump” you by offering more than you have whilst you’re getting you
mortgage and the legal contracts sorted.
In Scotland the legal process which applies when buying a house is different to
that for the rest of the UK. Once you have agreed the details of an offer with a
seller you are legally bound to go through with the sale and could be subject to
pay any damages if you decide to pull out. As this is the case it is best to engage
a solicitor to manage the offer process for you when buying a house in Scotland.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 14
Step 5. Get your mortgage offer agreed with your lender
In order to complete the full mortgage application you will need to provide
1. Proof of your identity
This means that when applying for your mortgage the lender will need to see
a copy of your passport, driving licence or birth certificate. They will also ask
you for your National Insurance Number.
2. Proof of your address
Lenders will require you to provide proof of your address (es) for the last 3
years. Utility or council tax bills are acceptable for this purpose.
3. Details of your employment
The address and contact details of your employer. If you’re self employed
they may ask for full details of your accounts so ask in advance of making
your application what kind of evidence they need to see.
Lenders can only make a binding mortgage offer at this stage of the process
as the money they will lend you is secured against the specific property you
will want to buy. Depending on how long it’s taken you to find the perfect
home, the lender who gave you the mortgage offer in principle (step 2) may no
longer offer the mortgage you applied for and there may be better deals on the
market. Once you’ve shopped around to secure the best deal the next stage is
to complete a full mortgage application.
4. Details of your financial situation
You’ll be asked for copies of your recent pay slips as proof of your income.
You’ll also be asked to supply documentation about any outgoings you have
such loans, credit cards and store cards as well as copies of your recent
bank statements. The lender will also ask for a detailed breakdown of any
savings, investments or any other properties you may own.
5. Current mortgage
If you have a mortgage currently, you will be asked for a copy of your latest
mortgage statement and a redemption statement from your current lender.
6. Full details about the home you want to buy
This includes the property details you’ve been given about the home you
want to buy and how much you’ve agreed to offer for it, the choice of the
mortgage product you wish to go for, the valuation/survey requirements,
your mortgage protection insurance requirements, your home insurance
requirements, you solicitor’s/convenyancer’s details
Unlike your application for a mortgage in principle this application will require
more detailed information about the property, the type of survey you want and
the details of a solicitor you will use. They will also require evidence of your
income and outgoings. You will not receive a confirmed mortgage offer until a
valuation of the property you want to buy has been completed by the lender as
they will want to be certain that the house is worth what you want to borrow
from them. This is the next key step in our guide.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 15
Step 6. Have a survey and valuation made on the property
Your lender will get a valuation completed on the property
to check that it is worth what you are paying for it. If the
valuation completed by the lender is less than that which you
have offered to the seller then your mortgage offer may be
withdrawn or be made subject to certain repairs or renovations
being completed. If this happens you should ask the surveyor
who completed the valuation on the lenders behalf to explain
fully why they believe the property isn’t worth what you have
offered. This should give you all the information you need to be
able to renegotiate your offer price with the seller.
Although a surveyor completes the valuation for the lender, this should not
be confused with a full survey. A valuation will not give you any details on any
structural problems there may be with the property that you will need to fix, it
only focuses on whether the price you want to offer is worth the property in its
If you want to be sure there are no major issues with the property you intend
to buy, the only way you can really be sure of this is by commissioning an
independent survey. A survey will identify any major work that might need
doing, things that you as a non-expert would not be able to spot.
Although you may think this is a cost you can’t afford, it is far cheaper to have
a survey than to fix major structural faults once you have bought the property.
A survey should always be completed before exchanging contracts so that any
major faults can be put right before you move in or you can renegotiate the
asking price of the property to take into account the costs of any work which
need to be done.
The estate agent, your solicitor or the lender will all be able to recommend a
surveyor they have used. If you decide to use the same surveyor the lender is
using for the valuation this can often save time and money as your survey can
be done at the same.
Types of Survey
There are two types of independent survey a Home Buyers report or a more
comprehensive Structural Survey (also known as a Building Survey).
Home Buyer’s Report
A Home Buyers report is usually for standard properties in a reasonable
condition up to 150 years old. It will check for major faults and give you the
estimated costs to put things right.
A Structural Survey
A Structural Survey is a more comprehensive survey that is usually used for
older, unusual or listed buildings. These surveys are also advised for properties
that have had extensions or renovations. A Structural Survey may highlight
that further reports are required from specialists so you should be prepared for
these costs too.
If you are buying a newly built home you won’t need a detailed survey
as it should have a NHBC certificate. A National House Building Council
certificate gives a 10 year guarantee, covering any major fault or problem in
your new home.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 16
Step 7. Hire a solicitor to manage the sale for you and exchange contracts
The legal work in buying a house is known as conveyancing,
which can be a complex process both legally and administratively
which is why it is best for a solicitor/conveyancer to do this
on your behalf. Once the survey has been completed and is
satisfactory and you have received your formal mortgage offer
your solicitor will get in touch with the sellers solicitor to draft
It’s your solicitor’s job to highlight anything in these searches and enquiries that
may make you want to pull out of buying the property prior to you exchanging
contracts with the seller.
Once all checks are made and you are happy with the draft of the contract,
your solicitor will need to agree a date for when the sale will be finalised.
This is called the completion date and it is the point at which you take legal
possession of the property. Once all the detail is agreed you will be ready to
exchange the final contracts for signature by you and the seller.
Part of the contract will also include things that are to be left in the house. Here
are some examples of things that could be included: carpets, ceiling and wall
lights, curtains, bedroom furniture, bathroom fittings and garden sheds.
When you exchange contracts you will need to hand over the deposit to the
solicitor. Once the contracts are exchanged and signed both parties are legally
bound to go through with the transaction. If you decided to pull out of the sale
at this stage its very likely you would lose your deposit and you could potentially
be sued for breach of contract.
If you have agreed that the seller would do any repair work on the property as a
condition of the sale it’s important that you check that this has been done as it
will hold up the completion of the contract.
Your solicitor will cover the following things for you:
• Check the title deeds of the property to ensure there are no issues
• Make checks to make sure that any planning permission the current
owner has have got the relevant sign-offs or certificates from the
government planning department
• Check the local authority maintains drains, streets and pavements
• Will draw up the contracts between you and the seller of the property
(liaising with the sellers solicitor)
• Register the change of ownership with the Land Registry
• Request any searches from the local authority of information about
the property and any planned developments within the area which
may affect your property, such as a major road being built or local
business planning expansion and building work
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 17
Step 8. Getting ready for your move
By working with your solicitor whilst they are drafting the
contracts you will have agreed the date when you want to
move in. As your completion date comes closer, there are
various tasks you’ll need to complete and companies you will
need to let know about your change of address.
Key things you need to do as soon as possible
• Book time off work around your confirmed moving in date
• If you’re renting give notice to your landlord
• Book the removal company or hire a van if your family and friends are
helping you move
• Contact utilities companies (Gas, Electricity, Water and Telephone) to give
them notice your moving date
• Contact the Council Tax office and tell them your moving date
• Arrange any insurances that are a condition of your mortgage
• Start Packing!
Top tips on packing
The key thing is – don’t leave it too late! Start packing your things up as early
as possible. Get everything you need – boxes, thick parcel tape, labels, black
bin bags and protective bubble wrap for your fragile possessions.
Closer to the moving day:
• Check what time you can get access to your new home
• Confirm these times with your removal firm
• Speak to neighbours at your old and new house to make sure they leave
parking space for the removal van
• Contact the sellers to check that you know where water cocks, fuses boxes
and gas/electric/water meters are
• Arrange for a parking permit if you need one at your new house
• Ask the seller to clearly label all window, garage, shed keys etc and agree
one place where you’ll be able to find them
• Ask the seller to put all important manuals (central heating, kitchen
appliances etc) in one place
• Start working your way through all the people you need to contact about
your address change
Clearly label all your boxes with:
The room they need to go into at the new property
Whether they are fragile. It may be a good idea to get some ‘Fragile’
stickers to put on the boxes so that they can be clearly seen
If necessary, which way up they should be carried
Your removal company will be able to advise you on how to pack and which things you should pack first.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 18
Key contact checklist
Our checklist should give you a good
idea of most of the people who you
will need to contact when you move.
Its worth arranging with Royal Mail for
any post to be redirected to your new
address just in case you have forgotten
anyone. Details of this can be found at
www.royalmail.com/personal and can
be arranged for 1, 3, 6 or 12 months,
with varying costs depending on the
length of time you choose.
Royal Mail to get your post redirected
Your children’s school or nursery
Phones – landline and mobiles
Credit card companies
Buildings and Contents insurance
Any income protection insurances
DVLA to get your driving licence
updated with your new address
Friend and Family
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 19
Protecting your investment
Buying a new home is the biggest investment you are ever
likely to make so it’s important that you have appropriate
insurance in place to protect it. The key insurances you may
need are detailed below:
Buildings insurance covers you for any damage to the structure of the property
and essentials such as kitchen and bathroom fittings. The level of buildings
insurance cover you need must be enough to cover the cost of rebuilding your
home in the event of severe damage however this is not the same value as
the price you paid for it. The rebuild cost of your home will be included in your
surveyors report or valuation. Some buildings insurance policies include cover
for legal expenses. Although this is not essential it may be worth considering as
it covers the costs of any private legal actions you may need to take to resolve
issues with nuisance neighbours or disputes on right of way. For freehold
properties most lenders will insist on seeing a copy of your buildings insurance
certificate before they will release the mortgage funds so you need to get this in
place to avoid any delays. Make sure you have the buildings insurance in place
from the date you exchange contracts.
Contents insurance covers your personal possessions. This is not an insurance
policy that mortgage lenders insist upon you having but it does make sense
to have cover in place. To calculate how much cover you will need go through
every room in your house and make a list of what’s in there and estimate of
how much it would cost to replace. This should include the costs of replacing
carpets and curtains. This will give you the level of cover you should insure your
contents for. Most contents insurance covers have what is called a single article
limit which is the maximum amount of benefit that they will pay for any single
item. If you have some really valuable items such as jewellery or paintings make
sure you draw this to the insurer’s attention. You can arrange cover for these
items but they will need to be specified separately from your other contents and
sometime you will need to pay an additional premium to cover them.
The level of buildings insurance cover
you need must be enough to cover
the cost of rebuilding your home in the
event of severe damage
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 20
Protecting your investment
Some lenders insist that you have sufficient life insurance in place to pay off
your mortgage in the event of your death. However, even if they don’t you
should consider taking out cover to ensure that your family and dependents are
covered should the worst happen. The main types of life insurance are:
Level Term Insurance
Pays your family a fixed cash sum that remains the same throughout the term
of your policy.
Critical Illness Cover
Pays out a lump sum if you are diagnosed with certain specified illnesses during
the term of your policy. It can be obtained as stand-alone cover or as part of a
life insurance policy.
This type of protection will give you a regular monthly income if you can’t work
as a result of accident, sickness or unemployment.
Mortgage Payment Protection insurance
This type of insurance will cover you if you are made redundant or have an
accident or are ill. It will pay your monthly mortgage payments and insurance
premiums, usually for up to 12 months.
For more information and a quick insurance quote visit:
Mortgage Life Insurance or Decreasing Term Assurance
Designed to pay off your mortgage in the event of your death with the benefit
amount decreasing in line with your outstanding mortgage balance.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 21
Step 9. Finalise the contract with your solicitor
The final step you will complete with your solicitor to finalise
the sale is called completion. As the completion day comes
closer you should keep in close contact with your solicitor
to make sure everything is on track. The following things will
happen at completion stage:
1. Your solicitor will liaise with your mortgage lender and ensure the money
transfers into their holding accounts.
2. The outstanding balance that you need to pay for the house (the agreed
purchase price less the deposit) will be paid to the seller by your solicitor.
As the completion day comes closer
you should keep in close contact with
your solicitor to make sure everything
is on track.
3. The legal documents transferring legal ownership of the property (transfer
document and title deeds) are passed to your solicitor. These are usually
held by your mortgage lender until the full mortgage has been repaid.
4. You should have provided your solicitor with all funds needs to pay all
the extra costs that are incurred in moving such as stamp duty and Land
5. Your solicitor pays the additional fees on your behalf
6. Your solicitors completes a set of final accounts detailing all the money
they have handled on your behalf
7. You can collect the keys as the seller has to have vacated your new home.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 22
Step 10. Moving Day!
The big day has arrived and after months of planning you’ll
finally be able to move into your new home. Moving day can be
stressful but hopefully the following tips and hits will help you
ensure that things go as smoothly as possible.
As soon as you wake up
Make sure that your neighbours have remembered that today is your moving
day and have left sufficient space for your removal van in front of your house.
Take your pets to a family or friends before the removal firm arrive. You don’t
want the removal men tripping over your pet or run the risk of losing them as all
your doors are likely to be left open whilst the removal van is being loaded.
Take final meter readings for your gas and electricity and ring these through to
the utilities company.
When the removal men arrive
Explain everything that you are taking with you, what boxes contains things
which are fragile and what is being left behind. As soon as this is done the
best thing to do is keep out of their way as the removal firm will know how the
removal van needs to be packed to ensure everything fits in.
Whilst the removal van is being loaded, take a little time to say goodbye to your
neighbours and give them your new address.
Keep Essentials in Easy Reach
Put together a box of essentials that you’ll need as soon as you move to
your new home. Key things to include:
The kettle, mugs, tea, coffee, milk and sugar.
Your mobile phone charger
Cleaning materials, bin bags and a dust pan and brush
Light bulbs and a torch
Pen and notepad
Leave your address and contact details
on a piece of paper in the kitchen of
what is now your old house asking for
the new tenants to forward on any mail
which isn’t automatically redirected.
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 23
At the new house
Make sure you arrive before the removal men so you can direct
them where you want them to put your belongings. If you’ve
labelled up your boxes when you packed them, this process
becomes much easier to manage.
Check that all the utilities are connected and take meter readings. You should
contact your utilities companies as soon as possible and give them this start
reading as the basis from which you’ll be billed in the future.
Unpack the boxes which go in the kitchen and your bedroom first. These are
the key rooms that you need to be able to use on the day you move in.
Put the kettle on and enjoy your new home!
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 24
helpucover opened its doors in 2007, and since then has
worked tirelessly to help customers make sense of insurance
and get the cover they need. We pride ourselves on our
different approach to insurance – offering simple, flexible
products that our customers can personalise in a way that
suits them best.
helpucover has other guides available which you can
download from www.helpucover.co.uk
Guide to Buying Household Appliances
Our products don’t just provide a cash payment when the worst happens
but also include a range of useful services that you can use to help you get
back on track or adapt to a change in your circumstances.
Our aim at all times is for customers to be empowered by having information
that is easy to understand which helps them make the choices that are right for
them. This is why we have created this guide which we hope you found useful.
Simple Guide to Choosing, Owning and Caring for a Pet
Simple Guide to Buying a Car
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 25
Buying or Selling a Home
Council of Mortgage Lenders – contact for information
Energy Performance Certificate Register – for details
about Energy Performance Certificates
Home Report Scotland – for details about Home
Reports that are only required in Scotland
HM Revenue & Customs – for details about Stamp Duty
Property Search Websites
Find a Property
Credit Reference Agencies
Companies you can contact to find out your credit score
Money Saving Expert
Financial Ombudsman Service
Association of Independent Financial Advisers
Association of Independent Mortgage Intermediaries
National Association of Estate Agents
Guild of Professional Estate Agents
Land Registry House Price Index
Registers of Scotland: Scottish house prices
House Price Index
RICS housing market survey
Other online resources
Up My Street
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 26
HM Land Registry
Registers of Scotland
Land Registers of Northern Ireland
The British Association of Removers
The National Guild of Removers and Storers
Solicitors & Conveyancers
The Law Society
England and Wales – www.lawsociety.org.uk
Northern Ireland – www.lawsoc-ni.org
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers
Council Tax bandings
England and Wales – www.voa.cov.uk
Office for National Statistics
Public Transport links
Environmental, flood and pollution risks
Mobile phone masts
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors
Independent Surveyors Association
A Guide to Moving or Buying your First Home - 27