59 Money-Saving Tips for Homebuyers and Sellers in 2023
The costs of buying and selling a home have never been higher. Our comprehensive money saving guide is full of invaluable insights and practical advice for home buyers and sellers. From negotiating tactics and tax breaks to avoiding hidden costs, we'll show you how to stretch every pound.
In this article:
Buying a home
1. Know what the property is really worth
With recent interest rate hikes, the gap between sellers' expectations and actual market values has widened. Estate agents face the challenge of balancing seller expectations against buyer affordability and lender down valuations. As the era of perpetually rising house prices winds down, it's more important than ever to accurately assess the true value of the property.
What's your home worth?
The UK's average sold price is currently £291,385.
Updated December 2023
Find sold property prices across the UK. Search by county, town or postcode.Find latest sold properties
2. Negotiate the lowest purchase price
Negotiating can be uncomfortable, but buying a property for the lowest possible price may be the single biggest saving you can make. Once you have agreed a price, you may still be able to negotiate a reduction if, for example the survey identifies costly problems that you weren't initially aware of
3. Save the largest deposit you can
Saving a larger deposit can significantly reduce your long-term mortgage costs. With a bigger down payment, you'll not only lower your monthly mortgage payments, but you'll also qualify for more competitive interest rates. With Bank of England interest rates now at 5.00% (5 December, 2023), better savings returns are available whilst you save.
4. Decide on the right type of mortgage
The Bank of England's current base rate is 5.00% (5 December, 2023)
Choosing the right mortgage is probably the largest possible saving you can make over the term of the mortgage. With so many different mortgage products available (variable rate, tracker, discounted, capped, variable and offset) choosing the right one is complicated, especially when interest rates seem unstable.
Every buyer's circumstances are different, some may be more focussed on cutting initial moving costs, others may be want to reduce monthly repayments.
If you are thinking about remortgaging or comparing mortgages, use our mortgage calculator to calculate repayments, check affordability, calculate total lifetime cost, see the impact of interest rate changes and calculate the benefits of making overpayments.
Compare mortgage rates and calculate monthly and lifetime costs.Calculate Mortgage Repayments
5. Choose a mortgage with lower fees
To minimise upfront moving costs, opt for a mortgage with low or zero application and survey fees. Be aware, however, that this initial saving will be recouped by the lender, with interest, over the mortgage term with a higher interest rate.
6. Opt for an interest only mortgages
An interest-only mortgage means much lower monthly payments compared to a repayment mortgage, as you only pay off the interest accrued each month, not the principal amount borrowed. However, it is important to have a plan in place to pay off the principal at the end of the loan term to avoid a large lump-sum payment.
7. Choose a mortgage with the lowest interest rate
Paying the lowest interest rates over the term of the mortgage can make a huge difference over the term of the loan.
The following illustration shows the impact that a 1% interest rate difference can make on a £300,000 repayment mortgage over a 25-year period:
|5% interest rate||4% interest rate|
|Total repayment over loan||£526,131||£475,053|
A 1 % reduction in interest rate on an averagely priced UK property could save you over £50,000!
8. Fix your interest rate
With interest rate unpredictability, choosing between a tracker, a two-year fix, a five-year fix or even a ten-year fix seems like a gamble because it is. Before choosing a mortgage type, read as much as you can about interest rate predictions.
9. Offset your mortgage
Offset mortgages are linked to a savings account, and instead of earning interest on your savings, the money in that account is used to offset the mortgage balance. This means you're only charged interest on the difference between your mortgage and your savings.
Offset mortgages can offer significant tax advantages, especially for higher rate taxpayers, as you reduce your mortgage interest payments instead of earning taxable interest on your savings.
10. Choose a mortgage with daily interest
Some lenders calculate interest on the remaining balance every day, rather than monthly or annually. Daily interest means that every repayment you make immediately reduces the outstanding balance, which in turn reduces the amount of interest you owe. Over the course of the mortgage, these incremental savings add up, saving you a significant amount in interest payments.
11. Consider buying at auction
Buying a property at auction offers a quicker, more reliable process compared to the traditional market, as sellers are usually motivated to sell quickly, and potentially at a discounted rate. Auctions opportunities often feature unique, flawed, repossessed, or probate properties. Auctions can be an opportunity for buyers to snap up a bargain.
12. Challenge the Council Tax band
If your exiting home is in the wrong Council Tax band, you could be eligible for a backdated rebate from as far back as 1993. When buying a home, you could ask your surveyor for their thoughts as to whether you should challenge the band when you move in.
13. Single occupier Council Tax
If you are living on your own, make sure you claim the 25% discount on your Council Tax bill - your local authority won't apply the discount by default.
14. Get buildings insurance quotes early on
Many buyers are taken by surprise when their conveyancing solicitor asks them for the details of their buildings insurance, which must be in place on exchange contracts. As solicitors have a habit of raising this at the last moment, buyers can be hurried into accepting then first quote.
Most insurers wil give you a quote up to 30 days in advance, giving you more time to shop around.
15. Don't use your lender's reconmended buildings insurance
Avoid using your lender's recommended buildings insurance. Lenders capitalise on buyers who wait until the last minute to arrange insurance, offering options that are often less competitive and may include hidden referral fees.
16. Ask the seller to accept a 5% deposit
While a 10% deposit is the default deposit payable on exchange of contracts, most sellers are willing to accept a reduced deposit of 5% if asked.
17. Beware of leasehold houses
Leasehold houses, although comparatively rare (when compared to flats) have become more common in recent years. Homebuyers are getting caught out by costly clauses on leasehold houses, including spiralling ground rents and service charges.
18. Ask the seller to takes the property off the market
Asking the seller to take their property off the market after accepting your offer will reduce the risk of being 'gazumped,' where another buyer outbids you before you exchange contracts. Taking the property off the market demonstrates the seller's commitment to your offer and allows you to proceed with conveyancing and financial arrangements with greater confidence.
19. Get a survey and renegotiate
According to RICS, buyers who didn't get a survey faced on average £5,750 worth of unexpected repairs after they moved in. 20% of these buyers ended had to spend over £12,000 to make their new home fit to live in.
If you are buying a non-standard or older property, a more expensive Building Survey (£500 - £1,000) would be recommended. The cheaper HomeBuyer Report (£300 - £500) will be fine for all other types of property.
Crucially, if the survey finds problems that will cost money to rectify, you can use the survey as the basis to renegotiate the buying price.
20. Consider using the mortgage lender's surveyor
If you are buying with a mortgage, the lender's surveyor will need to visit the property to carry out a valuation. It is often cheaper to upgrade to a HomeBuyer Report rather than choosing an independent surveyor.
Selling a home
21. Maximise your home's value with strategic improvements
Instead of undertaking major renovations like a loft extension, focus on cost-effective and impactful upgrades. Simple changes such as decluttering, opting for a neutral color palette, sprucing up the garden, or repainting the front door can significantly enhance curb appeal and secure a higher asking price.
22. Consider an online or hybrid estate agent
Explore online or hybrid estate agents as a cost-saving alternative. While high-street agents offer specific benefits, choosing an online agent could save you thousands in fees. Weigh the pros and cons of each option to make the best choice for your situation.
23. Negotiate fees with the estate agent
Negotiating estate agent fees can result in significant savings when selling your home. Don't hesitate to ask for a reduced commission rate, it's a competitive market, and many agents are willing to be flexible on their commission to secure your business.
24. Find the best value conveyancing solicitor
Choose a cost-effective, proactive conveyancing solicitor, rather than simply the cheapest. A slow solicitor can result in delays or even an aborted sale or purchase, which can be far more expensive in the long run.
25. Choose a solicitor who can act for your lender
If you are buying with a mortgage, your solicitor must also complete the legal work for your lender. If they're not an approved panel member of your lender, they'll need to outsource part of the conveyancing process to a solicitor who is. This can lead to significant delays before your purchase can complete.
Quittance's solicitor panel can work with 99% of UK lenders, including major lenders like Lloyds Bank and Nationwide Building Society, to smaller niche lenders like OakNorth, so you can complete your purchase without delay.
Our panel solicitors can act for over 100 mortgage lenders
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26. Look for a no sale, no fee solicitor
Choosing a no sale, no fee solicitor to expedite the conveyancing process and minimise risks. This arrangement allows much of the legal groundwork to be done in advance, whether you're buying or selling. By accelerating the process, it decreases the likelihood of the transaction falling through, saving you both time and potential costs.
27. Choose a fixed fee conveyancer
Opt for a fixed-fee conveyancing service to avoid unpredictable costs. Many solicitors still charge by the hour, which means legal fees can quickly escalate.
28. Check the solicitor's contract for hidden fees
Read the solicitor's terms and conditions and check for hidden charges. Extra fees not included in the initial quote can significantly inflate your final bill, sometimes making it two or three times higher.
29. Choose a proactive solicitor
Buying or selling a house is a complex process with a lot of paperwork and inevitable delays. You need your conveyancing solicitor to be highly responsive, proactive and communicative. 1/3 of purchases fall through, often as a result of an overworked or uncommunicative solicitor.
30. Choose conveyancing with free replacement property searches
If you are buying a home, your solicitor will apply for property searches, which cost around £300. Some solicitors offer free replacement searches if your initial purchase falls through.
Conveyancing quotes obtained through Quittance include Search Protection. With Search Protection, if your property transaction does not complete and you need a second set of searches on a different property, the second set is free of charge.
31. Cash buyer? You may not need searches
If you're a cash buyer, you may not need conveyancing searches, which are usually required by lenders. Consult your solicitor to see if you can do without searches and save money.
32. Ask the solicitor to throw in a free will
Consider asking your solicitor to include a free or discounted will with the conveyancing. Many firms offer will-writing services, and bundling this with your conveyancing can save you money.
33. Right to assign
If you're buying a leasehold property, you typically have to wait two years before you're eligible to extend the lease. However, you can bypass this period by having the current owner initiate the extension process before completion. They can then assign the right to extend to you before completion .
Marriage value is the increase in a property's value resulting from the lease extension. Under the Leasehold Reform Housing & Urban Development Act 1993, the freeholder is entitled to 50% of the increase in the value of the property when a < 80-year lease is extended. Leaseholders are usually advised to start the lease extension process when they have 85 years remaining.
If you are buying a property with less than 82 years to run on the lease, thnis approach could save you tens of thousands of pounds.
34. Make sure the fixtures and fittings are listed
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.
35. Don't use the estate agent's conveyancer or surveyor
Estate agents usually receive a referral fee for recommending a solicitor. Referral fees can be anything from £100 to £500, which can inflate your legal bill. Referral fees are not necessarily a problem. Good solicitors pay referral fees too.
If your solicitor is commercially dependent on the agent, then the agent may be able to exert commercial pressure on the solicitor that conflicts with the buyer’s or seller’s interests.
The solicitor may feel under added pressure to cut corners to get a purchase through quickly and keep the agent on side. This might convince the agent to continue referring new clients, but it may not be in the best interests of the buyer or seller.
36. Consider a DIY move
If you're looking to cut costs during your move, consider handling it yourself instead of hiring a removal company, which can average around £2,000. By renting a van, you can significantly reduce this expense.
37. Ask friends and family to help
Enlisting the help of family and friends, an otherwise unthinkable DIY might be more viable.
Calling on friends and family for assistance can make a DIY move more manageable and cost-effective. Their help can turn what might seem like an overwhelming task into a less ardous experience. Factor in token of gratitude, like a meal or a small gift, as a token of your appreciation.
38. Shop around for the cheapest petrol
To cut costs when renting a van for a long-distance move, plan your fuel stops wisely. Use apps or websites to find the cheapest petrol stations along your route and map out your stops accordingly.
39. Beg and borrow packaging
Save boxes in advance, buy bulk bubble wrap online and rent plastic crates for breakables.
Save boxes from previous purchases or ask local shops for their unused boxes. Bulk-buy bubble wrap online for added savings, and consider renting plastic crates for your more delicate items.
40. Maximise space by packing smartly
Use suitcases to carry clothes and fill saucepans with dry food items. This approach makes the most of the containers you already have and minimises the number of boxes you'll need, saving you both space and money.
41. Insure your possessions
Things tend to get broken when moving. If you are doing it yourself, shop around for the best home mover insurance. Check your existing insurance policies in case you are already covered.
42. Compare removals firms
If you use a removals firm, don't go for the first quote you receive. Use removals comparison websites to shop around and find the most competitive rates. This could save you hundreds of pounds and help you find a company that best suits your specific moving needs.
43. Ask for a discount
Don't hesitate to inquire about discounts when hiring a removals company. Many firms offer reduced rates for senior citizens, armed forces members, key workers, students, or just for those who ask.
44. Ask a local removals company to visit you
Invite a local removals company to carry out an at-home assessment. By doing so, they can more accurately determine the size and number of vans you'll need, as well as the amount of packing materials required, and they can give you a more precise quote.
45. Book removals well in advance
Booking your removal services well in advance can lead to substantial discounts. Once your completion date is confirmed, contact removal companies as soon as possible. This not only helps you to access lower rates, it also ensures availability on your moving day.
46. Disassemble furniture in advance
Disassembling furniture yourself in advance can save you money, as many removal services charge extra for this task.
47. Compare storage costs
Comparing storage costs from different providers can mean significant savings, especially for long-term storage. Prices can vary widely based on the size of the storage unit, location, and additional services like air conditioning and security features.
48. Get the smallest storage unit
Opting for the smallest storage unit possible can be a cost-effective strategy, but it requires careful planning and strategic packing. By placing heavier items at the bottom and stacking lighter items on top, you can maximise the use of vertical space. This allows you to fit more into a smaller area, saving you money on storage costs.
49. Buy your own padlock
Purchasing your own padlock before renting a storage unit can save you money, as storage facilities often mark up the prices of locks. Choose a sturdy combination lock from a hardware store or online.
50. Think about what you need at your new home
Selling items you don't need before your move can reduce both the volume and weight of your belongings, lowering the cost of removal services. By decluttering, you not only make some extra cash but also simplify the moving process.
51. Part-load arrangements
Sharing a shipping container through a part-load arrangement can be a cost-effective way to move your belongings overseas. By splitting the space with someone else, you can significantly cut down on the overall shipping costs.
52. Eat up before you move
Consuming as much of your perishable food items as possible before your move can reduce both waste and the amount of items you'll need to transport.
53. Consider changing utility suppliers
Moving home offers an excellent opportunity to review your utility providers and switch to better deals. From electricity and gas to water and internet services, take the time to compare tariffs. Comparison websites can help you find the best deals based on your new address
54. Fully review your monthly expenditure
Review your direct debits, subscriptions, and recurring payments to identify areas where you can make cuts. You might discover services you no longer use or find less expensive alternatives.
55. Move on a Friday
Choosing to move on a Friday can offer multiple financial and logistical benefits. For those who work Monday-to-Friday, a Friday move minimises the number of workdays missed, allowing for a full weekend to unpack and settle into your new home. This can also reduce childcare costs as you'll have the weekend to juggle responsibilities without needing extra help.
56. Move on any day but a Friday
Many removal companies experience lower demand earlier in the week, and they may offer discounted rates to encourage bookings on these less popular days. This could result in considerable savings compared to the premium prices often charged for weekend moves. If you have flexibility in your schedule and can take a day or two off work, a mid-week move could be the more financially savvy choice.
57. Check parking options at your new home
Ensuring you have suitable parking options at your new home on the day of your move can save you not only stress but also potential fines.
58. Ask the seller if they have any unused parking vouchers
Sellers who are leaving the area may have unused parking permits that they won't need anymore. By asking, you can potentially secure convenient and free parking for yourself and your removals team.
59. Avoid emergency call outs
Knowing the location of the stopcock in your new home can help you avoid costly emergency callouts in case of a plumbing issue. Ask the seller to tell you where the stopcock is located. This could save you time and money, allowing you to quickly shut off the water supply in an emergency situation.
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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.