67 money saving tips for buying, selling and moving home

The following is a comprehensive list of ways in which you can save serious money when buying, selling or moving home.

Piggy bank in front of house

Before you do anything else

  1. UPDATED: Is now the right time to move? - Moving home is a long-term commitment. However, with Brexit uncertainty affecting house prices in the short term, you should ask yourself "Is now is the best time"?
  2. Get a cashback credit card - Tandem Bank are offering a cashback card with 0.5% cashback. Put everything from agent's fees to conveyancing fees through it. Use the card to avoid going overdrawn during the move and avoid bank charges. Compare cashback cards here.
  3. Start a spreadsheet - get organised and keep track of all quotes and expenditure in a central place.

Buying a home

  1. Negotiate hard on the purchase price - many people are reluctant to do this but in a buyer's market this is probably the single biggest potential saving. There is no need to be coy about it and, if you are using an agent, they will take care of the negotiation.
  2. Max out your Help to Buy ISA - first time buyers can benefit from a maximum £3,000 bonus from the Government towards the purchase price. See: HM Government: Help to Buy
  3. Cobble together the largest deposit you can - doing so will give you access to potentially lower mortgage interest rates.

Mortgages

  1. Choose a mortgage with low fees - if your priority is to cut the immediate costs of moving, choose a mortgage with lower of even zero application and survey fees. This may mean a slightly higher interest rate but sometimes you can add the cost of application and valuation fees to the loan.
  2. Choose a mortgage with the lowest rate - comparing mortgages has never been easier, try: Money saving expert: Mortgage Best Buys.
  3. Fix your mortgage interest rate for as long as possible - most property pundits are predicting a new era of increased interest rates starting in 2019. Some lenders offer fixed terms as long as 10 years. Read more about post-Brexit interest rate predictions.
  4. Choose a mortgage with daily interest - mortgages where the interest is calculated yearly means you are paying interest on a part of the mortgage that you have paid off.
  5. Choose a mortgage that covers the stamp duty costs - lenders sometimes offer sweeteners including covering the cost of mortgage application fees, legal fees or even or stamp duty.

Surveys

  1. Compare survey fees - if you are buying a non-standard or older property, a more expensive Building Survey would be recommended. Otherwise a cheaper HomeBuyer Report will be fine. Either way, you can easily compare survey fees: See: Really Moving's survey comparison site.
  2. Renegotiate following an adverse survey - if the survey finds problems that will cost money to rectify, get quotes for the work and renegotiate the buying price accordingly. See: What should I do following a bad home survey report?
  3. Consider using the lender's surveyor - the lender's surveyor will visit the property to carry out a valuation. It is often cheaper to upgrade to a HomeBuyer Report rather than choosing an independent surveyor,

Legal Fees

  1. Find the best value conveyancing solicitor - cheapest might not be the best option if you end up as one of a hundred cases being handled by a paralegal in a conveyancing factory. 'Value' is the byword here - you want a proactive and communicative solicitor for a fair price. Get a conveyancing quote here.
  2. Choose a fixed fee conveyancer - many firms still work on an hourly basis.This is a sure-fire way to rack up excessive legal fees. Ask for a fixed fee guarantee. See: How much should conveyancing fees cost in 2019?
  3. Check the solicitors contract for hidden fees - some firms layer on the additional fees when you come to complete. The final bill can end up being 2 or 3 times greater than the initial quote. See: Buying a home? The hidden costs you may not know about
  4. Choose a proactive solicitor - 1/3 of purchases fall through. A ploddy and uncommunicative solicitor makes this more likely. See: Speed up the conveyancing process - how to take control
  5. Choose a no move no fee solicitor - many solicitors still do not offer this - make sure yours does.
  6. Choose conveyancing with a search guarantee - conveyancing searches cost around £300 - some firms will waive this cost if your seller, or even you, decide to pull out.
  7. Ask the solicitor to throw in a free will - some will do this - it doesn't cost them much to prepare but has enormous value to the home buyer.
  8. Cash buyers don't need searches - conveyancing searches are primarily for the benefit of your lender. If you are a cash buyer you can opt out of these and save approx £300.
  9. Right to assign - as a new leaseholder you will have to wait 2 years before you can extend the lease. If you intend to extend the lease, getting the seller to start the process and assign the benefit during the conveyancing process could save you tens of thousands.
  10. Make sure the fixtures and fittings to be included are in writing - Don't rely on a verbal agreement. Listing everything included in the contract of sale will ensure that everything you expected to be left in the house is there when you move in.

Other savings

  1. Consider buying at auction - If you have yet to find a property, consider attending an auction. Bargains are there to be found, just make sure you check the property out thoroughly before bidding.
  2. Challenge the Council Tax band - you can see if neighbours with similar properties are in a lower band at the Valuation Office Agency.
  3. Single occupier Council Tax - if you are living on your own, make sure you receive the 25% discount on your Council Tax bill.
  4. Get buildings insurance quotes early on - obtaining a quote could flag up issues like an existing flood risk. This would make the property very expensive to insure or possibly even uninsurable.
  5. Don't use the lender's buildings insurance - these policies are sold as last minute solutions and are consequently not usually competitive.
  6. Request a 5% deposit - unless you ask, the standard buyer deposit of 10% of the purchase price will be assumed. But most sellers will be happy to reduce this to 5% if you get your solicitor to request it.
  7. Beware of leasehold houses - increasing numbers of home buyers are getting caught out by costly clauses on leasehold houses. These can include spiralling ground rents and service charges. See: Don't get caught in the leasehold house property trap
  8. Ensure the agent takes the property off the market - if they don't, the chances of you getting gazumped increase. Gazumping costs buyers millions every year. See: How to reduce the chances of being Gazumped

Selling a home

  1. Spend time and money where it adds the most value - if you are about to sell it is probably a bit late to extend into the loft. There are a number of quick, cheap and easy things you can do to help get the best asking price. You could de-clutter, neutralise the colour scheme, tidy the garden, paint the front door etc.
  2. Consider an online or hybrid estate agent - the revolution in estate agency means you can sell through online agents like Purple Bricks for around 1/4 of the price of a traditional agent. Don't dismiss the high street however, there are pros and cons. See: Should I use an online estate agent - what are the risks?
  3. Negotiate hard with the estate agent - if you choose a high street agent, negotiate hard on their commission. Most start at around 1.5% but will reduce this to 1% or lower if you just ask - especially in the current market. This will save nearly £1,500 on the average property.
  4. Choosing a solicitor (see buying section solicitor tips also) - when selling, get a solicitor who will carry out the prep work before you even find a buyer. This will really speed things along when you do. An example would be getting the managing agent information on a flat before the buyer is found. This can shave weeks (or even months) off the conveyancing process.
  5. Don't use the estate agent's conveyancer or surveyor - it will probably be more expensive as the agent will receive referral fees from the solicitor. There is also a potential conflict of interest. See: Should I use the estate agent's recommended solicitor?

Moving home

Removals savings

  1. Consider a DIY move - the average cost of a removal company handling your move is £1,500. Doing it yourself can slash this cost.
  2. Recruit friends and family to help - pull in that favour or bribe them with a takeaway.
  3. Beg and borrow packaging - save boxes in advance, buy bulk bubble wrap online and rent plastic crates for breakables.
  4. Pack smart - fill suitcases with clothes, fill saucepans with dry food etc.
  5. Shop around for cheapest petrol - if you are renting a van and moving a long way, plan your fill ups at petrolprices.com
  6. Compare removals firms - if you are using a removals firm, comparison sites like Getamover will help you find the best deal.
  7. See if you are eligible for removals discounts - these are often available for OAPs, armed forces, key workers and students. If you don't ask, you don't get.
  8. Get the removals company to visit you - this way they can calculate exactly the size and number of removals vans and packing you will need. The cost of a last minute emergency van will be high.
  9. Book removals ahead - considerable discounts are available if you book ahead. Get the completion date agreed as early as possible and make your next call the one you make to the removals company.
  10. Disassemble furniture in advance - rather than relying on the removals service to do it at a cost
  11. Compare storage costs - if you need temporary storage - try Compare the Storage.
  12. Get the smallest storage unit - the secret is planning, packing heavy stuff at the bottom and piling it high.
  13. Buy your own padlock - storage businesses sell padlocks for a considerable markup. Get a good combination lock beforehand.
  14. Think about what you need at your new home - selling things in advance of your move means less to move.
  15. Part-load arrangements - if you are moving a long distance, you may be able to share shipping containers with another person.
  16. Eat up before you move - the more of your food you eat, the less you have to move.

Insurance and other outgoings

  1. Insure your possessions - things get broken when moving. Shop around for the best home mover insurance at Compare the Market.
  2. Check you aren't already insured - many home insurance policies include moving house cover.
  3. Consider changing utility suppliers - this is a good time to review all of your utility providers and tariffs. Try uSwitch.
  4. Fully review your monthly expenditure - while you are at it, review all of your monthly outgoings. Cancel unneeded direct debits such as boiler cover.

Other savings

  1. Move on a Friday - as you will have the whole weekend, moving on a Friday may mean fewer days off work, lower childcare costs etc.
  2. Move on any day but a Friday - if the above is not an issue, many removals companies charge less if you move earlier in the week as demand is lower.
  3. Don't impulse buy in your new home - settle in, work out how you are going to live in the property before buying new furniture, curtains etc.
  4. Look into homeowner grants - believe it or not, grants are still available for things like insulation. See Gov.uk.
  5. Investigate parking options at your new home - the last thing you need is a parking ticket on the day of your move.
  6. Ask the seller if they have any unused parking vouchers - they may have some spares that won't be any use to them when they move.
  7. Avoid emergency call outs - ask the seller where the stopcock is.
  8. Blag some free furniture - Check out local community sites and Freecycle.
  9. Rent out a room - if you have a spare bedroom you could rent it out or try Airbnb.
  10. Contingency plans - in case your move falls through before exchange, make sure you have a contingency plan in place.
Helen Goddard, Legal researcher

About the author

Helen is an award-winning legal researcher and author. She is an experienced court litigation report proofreader and has written extensively on legal matters.

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