Things I wish I had known before moving house
The stamp duty holiday and people being stuck at home during lockdown saw a property boom over the summer.
A recent survey by property website Zoopla asked people what they wish they had known before moving home
Zoopla quizzed more than 2,600 active buyers and sellers and found not checking in with the neighbours and not checking broadband strength are home buyers’ biggest regrets.
Corinne Card, 39, is a mother of two who lives in Westdene, Brighton. She moved to the area from Birmingham several years ago with her husband Jon.
Corinne explained that overall, her experience of moving to Brighton was fairly straightforward, thanks to the groundwork she did before starting the move.
“The process of purchasing our home in Brighton was pretty smooth”, she said. “We were happy with the deposit we paid and used a mortgage broker to find us the best deal. Looking back, we were in a fortunate position, as a first-time buyer was purchasing our previous house in Birmingham, which meant we avoided being in a property chain.”
The first-time buyer of Corinne’s home in Birmingham meant her family was spared from some of the stress that impacts many homeowners.
With the average property transaction taking 14 weeks to complete*, moving home is an emotional rollercoaster for nearly two-thirds of Brits according to recent Zoopla data, with 62 per cent saying that they found their previous moves more stressful than they had anticipated. This stress was compounded by the dreaded property chain, with just 11 per cent of respondents saying that their experience went smoothly and a further 18 per cent saying that they lost or nearly lost their property purchase as a result.
While Corinne didn’t suffer as a result of the property chain, the ease of her family’s move and subsequent happiness with their new property was aided by a decision to check in on her new neighbours while searching for her new home.
“I can’t stress how important it is to take the time to speak to your neighbours and check things like broadband speed before purchasing your home, as it can have such an impact on your life. It can be nerve-wracking going and introducing yourself, but it will pay off in the long run,” she added.
“We made sure to investigate these things before we put in an offer. We had dodged a bullet previously when we had our sights on a different house but were put off the after seeing our would-be neighbours arguing.”
Corinne’s decision to check on potential new neighbours also comes up in Zoopla’s research. In terms of specific details to check before buying a property, 46 per cent of respondents wished they had been more rigorous with their research before purchasing. With harmonious living high on everyone’s wish list 16 per cent wish they had spoken to the neighbours before purchasing the property, while 15 per cent say they wish they checked broadband speeds and strength of the mobile phone signal in the area (11per cent), factors that have become even more important with more people than ever working from home.
A chat with potential new neighbours may seem daunting, but for Corinne, this simple check meant that her family was steered to a more appropriate property for their relocation.
With neighbours called on and broadband speed checked, are there any other handy hints that Corinne recommends?
“Once we’d found our dream property, the most stressful part of moving home was the removals process. We hired a van to try and keep costs down, but the van wasn’t big enough and, in hindsight, it was a false economy,” explained the mum of two.
“Trying to box up our possessions while keeping an eye on our children was extremely stressful and it also didn’t help that we were moving in the month of December when the weather was extremely cold. It definitely would have been worth investing in a removals company and would have made the whole process a lot less stressful.”
Corinne says that one final tip is to try and build a relationship with the seller, which can help when things go wrong.
“There was a delay in exchanging the keys for our property, but thankfully we had spoken to the seller and invested in building a relationship with him,” she said. “This meant that the
problem was quickly resolved.”
With her family relocated from the Midlands to the South Coast, is Corinne happy she made the move?
“Since moving to Brighton, there have also been some things that have pleasantly surprised us. For example, the transport links from Westdene into Brighton city centre and London are really good and a lot better than we thought they would be.”
* https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/conveyancers-need-not-fear-home-buying-shake-up - Results based on 2,600 active buyers and sellers surveyed between 4/08/2020 and 20/08/2020
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