10 house-buying stress busters

Moving home is ranked as one of life’s most stressful events after bereavement and divorce, but if you’re planning to buy this spring there are steps you can take on the path to picking up the keys that will help keep anxiety at bay.

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1. Get your mortgage sorted in advance

Gross mortgage lending figures were up 9% in March on the previous month, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. But this is from a low base and getting money out of banks and building societies is still no easy feat.

So, before you begin searching for a property, make sure you can borrow the sum you need first – and at an interest rate you can afford. It's worth getting an 'Agreement in Principle' from a mortgage lender to show how much it is willing to lend you. An AIP is no 'guarantee' but it's a good indication that an offer won't fall through at a later stage because you can't borrow the amount you want. It also demonstrates to the seller that you're a serious buyer.

You can search for the best mortgage deal by using MoneySupermarket's comparison tables. For example, among the best buys for those with a chunky 40% deposit is a two-year fixed-rate from HSBC at 1.79% (reverting to a current rate of 3.94%). The deal comes with a £1,999 arrangement fee and early repayment charges for the duration of the fix.

Alternatively, for first-time buyers or those with a smaller 10% deposit, there is a two-year fix with Chelsea Building Society at 3.69% (reverting to a current rate of 5.79%). This deal comes with a £1,545 fee and, again, early repayment charges for the length of the fix.

2. Do your sums (realistically)

The costs of buying can amount to a staggering sum if you’re not prepared, as there is an array of costs on top of a property’s price-tag. So note down, and overestimate, all the costs that you expect to incur to avoid any bill shocks.

These include surveyor and solicitor fees, alongside sums for arranging a mortgage and removal fees. Together these can amount to an eye-watering sum, and remember you’ll probably want to spend some money on the new place once you’ve moved in.

3. Choose your solicitor carefully

The legal side can be complicated, so you’ll need to instruct a solicitor or property lawyer to do this work for you. Ask friends to recommend one they’ve used before, as having someone you trust to do a good job, efficiently and answer any questions you have, will smooth the path to completion.

4. Get a thorough survey done

This doesn’t need to be a full structural survey, unless you feel this necessary, but a comprehensive homebuyer’s report can give you peace of mind that the property is a sound buy and you can pursue your new home knowing there are no serious defects. Once this is done, you know one of the major buying hurdles is out of the way, as many surveys show up damp, rot, or even bigger problems like subsidence that put buyers off.

5. De-clutter your current home


Moving home is an ideal opportunity to sift through all your things and get rid of anything you haven’t used for years. After all, you don’t want to go to the trouble of moving anything you’ll only put away in a drawer never to be used – or even throw it away when you get there. This includes clothes, kitchen equipment, books – everything! There are plenty of charities that’ll be very grateful for your unwanted items, or you can have a car boot sale or sell them on eBay.

6. Start collecting boxes

You may be surprised how much stuff you have to shift when moving day arrives, so preparing for this is essential. Unless you’re using a removals company that will provide packing materials and do the work for you, gathering boxes from outside supermarkets, for example, or buying packs from storage companies is sensible – alongside picking up bubble wrap and packing tape.

Then, you can start boxing items you want to keep but don’t use regularly in preparation for moving day, such as china, ornaments and pictures. If you’re packing everything yourself, do it room by room and give yourself enough time to avoid a last-minute panic.

7. Book removals early

You want to make sure you’re prepared for the day of completion, and removals companies get booked up well in advance – especially in the traditional spring moving season. Alternatively, you can hire a van and do it yourself, but this can be back aching and time consuming.

Label every box with its contents and the room it's intended for before the removal men arrive, so they should hopefully then put everything where it should be in the new property. Write and place detailed lists of contents on the top of every box to further reduce stress.

8. Save money by switching to better service providers

Moving home is a great opportunity to save money by switching to cheaper energy and broadband providers. You should also make sure that you are fully covered on your buildings and contents insurance and that there are no gaps in cover when you are actually in transit between the two properties. At the same time, make sure you are on the cheapest and most comprehensive home insurance deal for your circumstances at our home insurance channel.

And with the cost of water rising from April 1 this year, check if you wouldn’t be better off with a water meter when you get to your new property, by reading Mark Hooson’s article.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Along the way, draft in friends and family to help pack and sort clutter, and if needed, use food and drink as an incentive to get them to help. If you’ve got kids, they may be anxious too, and not want to move, so treat it as an adventure and get them to pack their own ‘special box’ for the big day to take to their new home.

10. Go with the flow

No matter how organised you are, the house moving process can throw up unexpected hurdles. This could be forthcoming works on a leasehold property, for example, that you hadn’t budgeted for, or a completion date that keeps being put back. So it’s vital to be flexible, and keep a cool head.

Allow some wriggle room to ensure that you’re able to adjust and feel calm. This will also help when you finally step into the property, as it will take time to settle in. But by this stage you’ve done the hard bit, so give it time, and eventually you’ll be able to put your feet up.


Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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