Moving home is an exciting time: starting a new chapter, full of surprises. But it can also be a little daunting; so many unknowns, and potential obstacles. Here, we bring our decades of experience to give you our expert answers to the most common five questions we get, here are Wainwrights. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, just pop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be really happy to help you.
1. Should we extend or should we move?
If your family is growing in number, or size, or both, you may start feeling a little squeezed in your home. Perhaps your children are outgrowing their bedrooms, and you’re struggling to find a place for their toys, belongings and even their friends. Maybe you’ve lost a dedicated workspace, guest room or office, in favour of giving your children their own rooms. At some point, you may ask yourselves, “Should we extend, or move?”
Of course, not all homes can be extended. Some have already been stretched to their limit, leaving you no choice but to cope with what you have, or sell and move.
But some homes offer the opportunity to extend upwards or outwards, and a garden large enough to fit a garden office can help you find that extra space you need.
Your discussions about whether to stay or go will centre on costs, feasibility, timescales and return on your investment. Additional factors like how emotionally attached you are to your house, the type of house you live in and area planning restrictions will further add to the complexity of your decision.
The costs and feasibility of extending your home can vary hugely, depending on the type and size of the extension, whether it’s one story or two, and the construction of the extension. For example a rear extension, usually to extend the kitchen or add a family space, can cost from just £15,000 for a conservatory-style extension, right up to £100,000 and beyond for a more designer-style structure with bi-fold doors, for example.
Converting part of the house that’s already there, like your garage, can be a relatively low cost option, provided the footings are deep enough and the garage has been built to comply with Building Regulations. From just £10,000 for the simplest garage conversion, this can be one of the most cost-effective ways of adding an extra room to your home. However, some people really can’t manage without a garage, so plan in advance where you are going to put all your possessions if not in your garage.
If it’s just a pleasant sitting area you need, then an add-on conservatory can be the answer. Often these don’t even require planning permission, and costing from just £15,000, they are one of the most popular choices for people looking to extend their home.
2. What if we can’t find anything we like?
This is a natural concern, especially if you love your home, but it’s just become too small for you and your family. If extending is not an option, and you’ve decided to move house, your next challenge is finding a home that you love just as much as your current house, but with more space.
A strategy that has worked for many of our clients here at Wainwrights, is to draw up two lists: one of ‘must-haves’, and the other of ‘nice-to-haves’. Yours could look like this:
- Large garden
- Walkable to school
- Utility room
- Built-in cupboards
These lists will really help to guide your viewing decisions, and make sure you focus on the really important elements. So for example, if you find a house with all your ‘must-have’ list ticked, but only a couple of your ‘nice-to-have’ ticks, you can make an informed decision about whether to go ahead and put in an offer, and maybe improve the house in the future, so it meets more of your needs.
3. Can we afford to move?
Moving house can be expensive. Like any big decisions, there is usually a trade-off between the costs of time, effort and money, and the opportunity costs: how much better your life will be in your new home, if you move.
Let’s look at the costs of moving, so you can prepare a budget, then you won’t get any nasty surprises:
As an example, let’s say you’re selling at £300,000 and buying at £450,000. Here’s what you’ll pay on average to sell your current home, buy your new one and move from the old to the new.
|Conveyancing fee (selling)||£380|
|Conveyancing fee (buying)||£430|
|Energy Performance Certificate||£60|
|Estate Agency fees (1%) (including vat)||£3600|
|Stamp Duty (see table below)||£12,500|
|Total moving costs||£17,860|
Stamp Duty bands
|Purchase price bands (£)||Percentage rate (%)|
|Up to 125,000||0%|
|125,001 to 250,000||2%|
|250,001 to 925,000||5%|
|925,001 to 1,500,000||10%|
Of course, the moving costs only tell part of the story. There’s still the emotional benefit of moving to a home that fits you and your family. The feeling of wellbeing to be in a house with enough space, the right number of rooms, and features like a garage or a sunny patio, that will improve the quality of your life immeasurably.
4. How long do homes like ours take to sell?
Selling a house can take time, so it’s useful to plan well in advance of your intended moving date. Perhaps you have a definite date in mind, for a job move or school term date, for example. But even if you would just like to move as soon as possible, it’s helpful to have a rough idea of timescale, so you can plan effectively.
There are three stages of selling your home:
- Preparing to put your home on the market
- Waiting for an offer
- Conveyancing, or the legal sales process.
Stage One: Preparing to put your home on the market
This is two-fold: the amount of time it takes to prepare your home for photography and viewings, and then the time needed by your estate agent to arrange your photography, create your brochure, and launch your property to market. We tend to work to a twenty-one day schedule to take a home to market, plus any delays caused by the weather and availability.
Stage Two: Waiting for an offer
According to the Rightmove House Price Index, the average time to sell a house is between eight and ten weeks. Houses tend to sell more quickly in the first half of each year, especially around late Spring, and slow down towards the end of the year, with the slowest sale months being December and January.
Stage Three: Conveyancing
In the UK it takes on average around ten weeks from offer to completion (handing over your keys). Remember though that this time frame does not take into account the delays caused by surveys, particularly if you have an old or listed building, and also the heavy demand caused by property chains, where you are often left waiting for events below you in the chain. Planning for a conveyancing time period of around eight to twelve weeks is usually about right.
The total time for these three stages adds up to around five months. So if you’re planning to move house in the summer holidays, you’ll need to be talking to your estate agent in March and April. Of course, you may sell quicker, but planning this far ahead will leave you ready for the curved balls that will inevitably be thrown your way, and ensure you feel calm and prepared.
5. How do we choose the right estate agent to sell our home?
The majority of sellers choose three estate agents to ‘interview’, to get a balanced view of their property’s value, as well as to discover the various agency fees and range of services.
Broadly speaking, there are three main types of estate agents: the ‘DIY’ agent, the local independent, and the corporate agent. Once you’ve decided which would be best for you and your family, you’ll be in a better position to choose an estate agent from that category.
The DIY agent – also known as ‘call centre’ agent. These agents don’t have a traditional office on the high street. Instead, they may be based somewhere centrally in the country, with a network of field agents to service their clients. They may also operate from a serviced office or even from their own home.
Typically, the DIY agents offer a range of fees, with options of up-front fees, on-sale fees, and a mixture of both. So you may have the choice of paying say, £800 up front and nothing upon a successful sale, or only £100 up front, and half a percent of the eventual sale price on completion. With a DIY agent, you can usually expect a menu of extras, including your sale board, floor plan, your EPC and a featured listing on Rightmove. Viewings are also not usually offered, so you will need to be confident in showing your own home, and available for viewings when requested.
Corporate estate agents – those large companies owned by a group or publicly traded, may seem like a secure choice of estate agent to sell your home. They will have a solid, proven track record, a history to online reviews, an established brand that buyers may recognise, a large workforce, a modern and comprehensive website, a generous marketing budget and an extensive network of suppliers and resources available to them. However, you need to balance these factors against perhaps a less personal approach, a more rigid service, the feeling that you’re just a number, and no direct chain of communication and accountability. Of course, not all corporate estate agents are like this; just as equally some high street shops and cafes are better at customer service than others. By conducting your own research locally, you should be able to build up a picture of the calibre of your local corporate estate agents and the service they offer.
Local independent estate agents – what these agents may lack in big-budget marketing, they often make up for in their personal service approach. With a really good local agent, you should feel like a treasured client whose name and situation everyone in the office knows immediately. You’ll often be able to speak to the owner directly, and that level of accountability can be comforting, especially if things don’t quite go as planned. Extra touches, like having the owner’s mobile number, being able to contact them out of hours, and the feeling that your agent is always prepared to do whatever it takes to help you, can be invaluable when you are selling your home, and putting your next chapter in someone else’s hands.
There are 15,000 agents in the UK, and selecting the right one can be like finding the proverbial needle. How on earth do you choose the agent that is right for you, particularly if it’s more than a decade since you last sold a house?
Here are some pointers to help you prioritise your selection criteria, and sort the wheat from the chaff:
Commission – and no, this doesn’t mean choosing the agent with the lowest commission rate, or the one that allows his fee to be negotiated to below his proposal. One tactic is to select an agent who values his commission, and this may mean choosing one who charges above the area average, and who doesn’t discount it. After all, you will be putting your trust in him to negotiate on your behalf with a buyer, so you need to know he won’t crumble at the first sign of pressure.
High-level accountability – if something goes wrong in your local branch, you need to know that you can take the issue up the chain, to the most senior person available.
Up-to-the-minute marketing techniques – the brochure, photography and online marketing created by an agent all need to be of the highest quality, stand out when compared with the competition, successfully target the right type of buyer for your home.
The right attitude – your agent needs to be completely on your side. They need to display enthusiasm for your home, and a belief that they can sell it for the price you want. If you trust him and like him, you’re definitely on the right track.
Knowing what to expect when you’re planning to sell your home can make the whole process so much easier. And knowing you have a trusted adviser on your side along the journey can be incredibly reassuring. If you’re in an area covered by one of our wonderful Wainwrights’ team, we’d love to be your guide. Either way, if you have a question about any aspect of moving home, just pop us an email at email@example.com and we’ll be really happy to help you.