63 Money-Saving Tips for Homebuyers and Sellers in 2021

The costs of buying, owning and selling a home have never been higher. These tips will help save you money and avoid unnecessary costs.

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Buying a home

  1. Negotiate the purchase price. Many buyers are reluctant to negotiate, but even in a seller's market, buying for the lowest possible price is the single biggest potential saving. The estate agent will handle the negotiation so there is no reason to feel awkward.
  2. Save the largest deposit you can. A larger deposit will give you access to lower mortgage interest rates.

Mortgages

  1. Choose a mortgage with lower fees. If your priority is to cut the immediate costs of moving, choose a mortgage with lower or even zero application and survey fees. However, this may mean a higher interest rate.
  2. Choose a mortgage with the lowest interest rate. You could accept higher fees in favour of a lower interest rate. You may then be able to add the cost of the application and valuation fees to the loan.
  3. Fix your mortgage interest rate for as long as possible. Some property pundits are predicting a new era of increased interest rates. Some lenders offer fixed terms as long as 10 years.
  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 with incentives. Lenders sometimes offer incentives including covering the cost of mortgage application fees and legal fees.

Surveys

  1. Compare survey fees. If you are buying a non-standard or older property, a more expensive Building Survey would be recommended. The cheaper HomeBuyer Report will be fine for all other types of property.
  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 with a slow solicitor. The cost of delays or an aborted purchase will be far more costly. Choose a proactive and communicative solicitor. See: Finding the best conveyancer or solicitor - How do I choose?
  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 2021?
  3. Check the solicitor's contract for hidden fees. Some firms charge additional fees that don't appear in the quote. The final legal 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 slow and uncommunicative solicitor makes this more likely. See: Speed up the conveyancing process - how to take control
  5. Choose a no sale, no fee solicitor - many solicitors still don't offer no sale, no fee - make sure yours does.
  6. Choose conveyancing with a search guarantee. Conveyancing searches cost around £300. Some firms offer free replacement searches if your initial purchase falls through.
  7. Cash buyers may not need searches. Conveyancing searches are primarily for the benefit of the lender. If you are a cash buyer, ask your solicitor if you can forgo searches.
  8. Ask the solicitor to throw in a free will.
  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. 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. It is still possible to bag a bargain be found, just make sure you check the property out thoroughly before bidding. See: Buying a home at auction - What do I need to know?
  2. Challenge the Council Tax band. The property you are buying may be in the wrong Council Tax band. See: Am I paying more Council Tax than I should be?
  3. Single occupier Council Tax. If you are living on your own, make sure you claim 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. You will need to obtain buildings insurance between exchange and completion. Lender recommended policies are sold as last-minute solutions and are not usually competitive.
  6. Request a 5% deposit. Unless you ask, the standard buyer deposit of 10% of the purchase price will be assumed. Most sellers will be happy to reduce this to 5%.
  7. Beware of leasehold houses. Homebuyers 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. Make sure the agent takes the property off the market. If they don't, the risk of gazumping increases. 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. Selling through an online agent could save you £1000s in agency fees. Don't dismiss the high street, however - there are pros and cons of each. See: Should I use an online estate agent - what are the risks?
  3. Negotiate with the estate agent. Most agents will negotiate their commission.
  4. Choosing a solicitor (see buying section solicitor tips also). When selling, instruct a no sale, no fee solicitor who will carry out the preparatory legal work before you find a buyer. This will really speed things along when you do. See: When is the best time to instruct a solicitor?
  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

  1. Consider a DIY move. The average cost of a removal company handling your move is £1,500.
  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 the cheapest petrol. If you are renting a van and moving a long way, plan your stops at the cheapest petrol stations.
  6. Compare removals firms. If you are using a removals firm, removals comparison sites will help you find the best deal.
  7. Ask for a discount. Discounts are often available for OAPs, armed forces, key workers and students.
  8. Ask the removals company to visit you. This way they can calculate exactly the size and number of removals vans and packing you will need.
  9. Book removals well in advance. Considerable discounts are available if you book ahead. Get the completion date agreed as early as possible and contact the removal company ASAP.
  10. Disassemble furniture in advance. The removals service will charge for this service.
  11. Compare storage costs.
  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 overseas 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 tend to get broken when moving. Shop around for the best home mover insurance.
  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.
  4. Fully review your monthly expenditure. Review all of your monthly outgoings, cancel unneeded direct debits and think about where you could make cuts.

Other savings

  1. Move on a Friday. 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 of 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.

Your next step

If you are buying, selling, remortgaging or transferring equity in a home, we can help you find an expert conveyancing solicitor.

We work with a panel of specialist conveyancing solicitors to deliver a stress-free moving experience.

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  • CQS-accredited panel solicitors
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Helen Goddard, Legal researcher

Author:
Helen Goddard, Legal researcher