The sale is complete, you have the keys in your hand and the moving van has delivered your household contents to your new property. All that is left is for you to unpack and turn your new house into a home.
Here are a few tips to help you settle and make the labour-intensive process a smooth and easy as possible:
Many hands make light work
Dividing the work among friends and family who are willing to lend a hand and get involved will make things move along much faster. Delegate the work out by providing a list of tasks to each person. It is best to focus on the larger jobs first, such as moving and placing furniture and then working down to the items that you would be able tackle on your own if need be. If possible, get at least one room set up as quickly as possible so that helpers have a place to put their feet up and take a well-deserved break during the process.
Put safety first
It takes a few days to feel settled in a new property and often even everyday sounds can be strange or unnerving. Making sure you and your family feel safe in the new environment will help everyone feel settled sooner. Ensure all the doors and windows close and lock properly. Also, make sure that each family member has a set of keys to the property. If you think it’s best to change any of the locks, schedule a locksmith and change the codes to any coded entry points, such as automated garage doors and security systems.
Get to grips with the electrics
Ensure you know where the fuse box or circuit breaker is and how it works. Have a look at the boiler and heating and familiarise yourself how it turns on and off and how to set it.
Also, remember that often electric cables are hidden behind walls, so before making any holes in the wall to hang something, make sure you know what is behind it. It is possible to buy cable detectors from DIY shops.
Update all your details
Don’t wait until the last minute to get your paperwork done and update your details. Redirect your mail online with Royal Mail, notify utility providers and the council. Also, fill out a change of address with your bank and employee and ensure that all the relevant service providers, clubs and creditors have your new address on record. Changing addresses also means re-applying for the electoral role. Remember also to make the time to change the address on your driver’s license.
Don’t pressure yourself to do all of this in one go, but the sooner you get them done, the more settled you will feel.
Make the place yours
Changing the colour of the walls and putting up your personal items and photos will make the house feel like a home and can make the rest of the unpacking a much more pleasant experience.
Take time to breathe
There’s no deadline or rush, it doesn’t have to all be done at once. Take some time out to have a family dinner, watch a movie or go on a social outing. Or just relax, step outside to meet the neighbours and take time to enjoy your new surroundings.
To make your home appeal to the widest range of buyers, identify its strengths and weaknesses. Here are some of the most common property weaknesses and how you can turn them into strengths …
Weakness:The windows are outdated.
Hanging new curtains is an easy way to update your property. Install a simple metal rod and hang a neutral curtain with metal rings.
Weakness:Your kitchen needs an update.
Purchase new white goods for your kitchen to avoid the cost of a complete renovation. When you’re updating, think stainless steel as these appliances are popular and modern.
Weakness:There are small, ‘awkward’ spaces in your home.
Hang a large mirror. Mirrors can make any space seem larger, so they’re especially important in an entryway or narrow hallway.
Weakness: Your house looks old.
A fresh coat of paint and a top-to-bottom clean can work wonders to turn a rustic property into a character-filled dream. Highlight the period features of your property so the house becomes historic, not just ‘old’.
Weakness:There’s no furniture in your property.
Have furniture in every room to demonstrate what it could be used for.
Moving to a new house can be a stressful time, particularly if a sale falls through. Don’t worry if this happens as there are often ways to get it back on track. Guild Members talk about the potential pitfalls to avoid during your negotiations and give tips to help your sale move forward.
If something unexpected comes up in a survey, it may be a big enough problem to make the sale fall through.
Becky Evans from Mark Evans & Co said: “In our experience, most house sales fall through due to survey reports. Unexpected work picked up on a survey may cause some purchasers to walk away from a sale. We would recommend that sellers sort out any paperwork for work carried out and organise certificates to provide to your surveyor and purchaser.
“If there is work that needs to be carried out, it can be more beneficial to rectify it before going on the market, because if your sale falls through, you will still have to pay solicitor fees and may still end up paying for the work. Purchasers should fully read their survey report and ask their surveyor to explain anything they don’t understand. If surveyors have not seen any paperwork or evidence of work, they have to assume it hasn’t been done and it can therefore seem like a larger problem than it is,” she warns.
Liam Sullivan from Drivers and Norris has some advice. “Some of the more common reasons for losing a sale can be avoided if you ask the seller if they are aware of any major works having been done on the property,” he said. “Or, if alterations have been made, do they have any documentation which signs it off, either from The Council or Building Regulations?”
A chain can fall apart for many reasons, and sometimes people can get bored of waiting and find a house elsewhere.
“When you agree a sale, you expect it to go through to completion. However, this is a time when you are not in control of events. You must rely on your buyer, and maybe even their buyer, and so on until the chain is complete. Any one of these people can and do change their minds occasionally. It is often nothing to do with your property,” explains Zoe Hayle from Marshalls Penzance.
The results of a single break can be huge, too. “A sale falling through at the bottom of a chain of sales can potentially jeopardise all of the others, so one break can mean three, four or more sales falling through,” says Justin Flanagan from Charles Eden.
How can you try to stop a chain from falling through?
Becky Evans from Mark Evans & Co has some advice: “Our biggest advice to purchasers and vendors is that you may have to compromise during your sale. Also, picking the right estate agent can literally keep your sale together; our contract chaser is invaluable and on many occasions, sales would have not gone through without her.”
During a negotiation
Negotiations can be a tricky time, and you can find yourself dealing with surprising demands. It is worth being flexible, and remember that small details should not be a make-or-break on your deal.
Cheryle Wileman from Liverpool Property Solutions says that the key is good communication. “Fixtures and fittings can also cause some fraught negotiations with sellers wanting to take fitted wardrobes etc out of the property,” she explains. “Keeping calm is often the key.”
Allan Carr, Founder of Pulver Carr, agrees that a level head can push a sale through. “I have seen a number of sales almost fall through due to silly reasons such as having to leave a tired old shed, leaving curtains, not wanting to contribute towards an indemnity policy, or not being able to agree on a completion date.
“This is where the quality estate agent mediates between both parties and get them to look at the bigger picture of completing the sales transaction,” he says.”
People changing their mind and pulling out
Situations change all the time. Someone could lose their job, a family member could become ill, or people can simply have second thoughts.
Mike Coles from Debbie Fortune has noticed a range of reasons why minds can be changed. “The seller can change their minds after first accepting the offer and decide to stay put, which is sometimes called ‘gazanging’. The seller may not be able to find another property to move to, or the buyer’s finances are not in place or their mortgage advance is rejected.
“The buyer can be ‘gazumped,’ which is when the seller receives a higher offer from another buyer. The opposite, ‘gazundering’, is when the buyer reduces their offer at the last minute, before contracts are signed,” Mike explains.
As much as a buyer may want to move ahead, they may not be able to. “Despite buyers having AIP finance, there is a changing mortgage market and tougher underwriting depending on the loan to value once an actual application is completed. This can lead to upset unless the buyer has regularly reviewed the arrangements they have made,” points out Justin Flanagan from Charles Eden.
What should you do next?
If a sale falls through, Kelvin Francis from Kelvin Francis says: “Get the property back onto the market without delay and commence a new marketing campaign. In the event of the cause having been a result of the survey, the seller should deal with any faults.”
How can you prevent a sale from falling through?
Don’t forget to check your mortgage status before putting in an offer to ensure that you will be accepted to buy the home.
You should always remember to be patient, especially when waiting for sales to go through. The negotiation stage can be the most frustrating as you want the sale to move ahead quickly, but it is worth taking a step back and letting the negotiations take their course.
The most important thing is to choose an agent who will be able to constantly chase your sale through, no matter if it is in a chain of not. A highly-regarded independent estate agent, like Members of The Guild of Property Professionals, will be experts in sale chasing and can ensure that everything possible is done to stop a sale from falling through.
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What to avoid when buying a property for the first time …
First Time Buyers
Buying a home for the first time can be an emotionally driven experience, especially when you consider the various elements that need to be taken into account. While there are several new and exciting things that go into buying a home, it can be a complicated process to negotiate. Often, it’s easy to focus on the smaller details and lose sight of the larger picture while possibly making mistakes.
Here what you need to avoid along the way…
Not getting a mortgage in principle
Once you have made the decision to buy a property, the temptation to jump into the search with both feet will be overwhelming. However, rushing in before speaking to your bank about the mortgage they are prepared to offer you could lead to disappointment. Imagine you find a house you love, only to learn it is not within your price range when applying for the mortgage. While not a requirement or guarantee, getting a Mortgage in Principle will provide you with a written estimate from a lender, giving an indication of what you can borrow.
It’s possible to apply for a Mortgage in Principle through a mortgage adviser such as L&C or directly with a lender. They will provide you with the reassurance that you are looking at properties within your price range and they will let the seller know you are serious and qualify to buy the property.
Not working out what you can afford
There might be a difference between the mortgage you qualify for and what you can comfortably afford in real terms. It is always advisable that you leave some cushioning in the budget. Look at your finances and make a list of your expenses before determining a budget for a property to gain a clear idea of what you can afford. Don’t stretch your finances too thin, as this will make you vulnerable if unforeseen circumstances rear their head.
Focusing on the flaws
You shouldn’t compromise on your ‘must-haves’ but placing too much focus on the home’s flaws might have you miss the things that really matter. Fixtures can be replaced, rooms can be made open-plan or walls can be added to create your dream home with a property that meets your essential criteria.
Falling in love blindly
On the other end of the spectrum, you shouldn’t overlook a home because of its flaws, but don’t completely ignore them either. The look of a home is one thing, but more serious issues such as structural damage are quite another. Often, once a buyer sees a home that they think is the one, their decisions will be based on the emotional connection rather than the facts. Be fully aware of all the property’s issues before you put in an offer. Ask your Guild agent to explain all a property’s past and current major or structural issues, or seek advice from a surveyor.
Waiting too long
It is crucial to make an informed decision when choosing the right home, but don’t take too long, otherwise, you could lose out to a faster buyer. Once you have found the right home, be decisive and take action to avoid disappointment.
Not thinking about the future
Consider aspects such as the home’s resale potential as well as your future plans. It might seem strange to think about selling the home before you have bought it but much of the home’s potential return on investment is based on decisions you make when buying, not selling.
Factors that will affect the home’s resale value include:
• Type of property
• Number of bedrooms
• Garage or off-street parking.
• Investments in infrastructure, like HS2
Also, consider whether the home will meet your needs in the future. For example, you may not have children now but plan to shortly – this means needing an extra bedroom or ensuring that you purchase near a school with the desired Ofsted rating. Think about whether the home meets your situation now, but also if it can meet your evolving needs.
Are you looking for your first property? Contact one of our Guild agents today. Find your nearest office here.