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12 Ways to slash the cost of moving house

12 Ways to slash the cost of moving house

Moving house is always expensive, but there are ways to make the process cheaper. Here are twelve ways to cut your moving costs

It’s never been cheap to move home, but there are plenty of ways you can greatly reduce the costs. However, beware the potential pitfalls!

Choose DIY removal rather than a removals firm

Hiring a van and enlisting a couple of mates to help rather than hiring a professional removals firm can certainly seem tempting. Just be aware what you’re letting yourself in for.

Removal firms have the experience—and physical strength!—to overcome the challenges of heavy, bulky furniture, such as manoeuvring a sofa or bookcase around a compact corner. 

Housebuilders’ incentives 

Choose a newly-built home to cash in on incentives like payment of (or towards) the deposit, stamp duty and legal fees. Turf, carpets, flooring and kitchen appliances may be thrown in.

Newly built house - costs of moving house

Buying a new build can come with some savings

The housebuilder may also help offload your existing home, by offering a part-exchange or appointing an estate agent and helping with fees. 

Get the valuation right

One simple way to avoid losing out when moving home is to get as accurate a property valuation as possible. This means asking several estate agents to provide a suggested asking price, which can be done for free and without any obligation to use them. It can be surprising how much valuations can vary.

"By getting several opinions you are more likely to find out the most realistic asking price"

Some agents—especially the less prestigious ones that are part of a big chain—may undervalue the property’s value in order to encourage a quick sale. Other agents may flatter you with a high asking price just to get your business, only to advise you to lower the price when the resulting interest in your property is low. By getting several opinions from different agents you are more likely to find out the most realistic asking price.

Don’t buy expensive packaging materials

There’s no need to buy lots of brand new boxes for your move. Most supermarkets and many shops are only too happy to give you boxes for free, which would otherwise simply be recycled. You just have to ask. And it’s a good idea to build up a pile of old magazines and newspapers you can use to wrap around your more delicate belongings. 

Declutter beforehand

Most of us accumulate many possessions over time that we never use. Reducing the number of items you have to move in good time beforehand means spending less on the move when the time comes. 

Ditch your solicitor for a licensed conveyancer 

It is widely assumed that you need a solicitor for your house purchase or sale. However, a licensed conveyancer is a cheaper option. They specialise in property law, and can also represent both buyer and seller, which can speed up the process.

Price your property in a lower stamp duty band

Stamp duty rates vary considerably—currently from between five per cent and 12 per cent. Hitting a higher stamp duty band can be costly. But if you lower the value of your property to come within a lower band it can save a lot, and you can increase the value of the property contents that are included in the sale, which are known as “chattels”, to help balance things out.

"Hitting a higher stamp duty band can be costly"

These are items like white goods, curtains, carpets and furniture. However, you mustn’t exaggerate the value of these, as too high a figure could trigger the HRMC to look into it, and you could end up paying more stamp duty. Fixtures and fittings, such as the boiler or power points, can’t be included here. 

Don’t move at peak times

The day you choose to move home can really affect the cost of moving. Generally, moving from Sunday to Thursday will be cheaper than moving on Friday and Saturday, as removal firms experience most demand on those latter two days.

Man moving boxes from van - cost of moving house

Shop around to find the best removal company

Do be sure to ask for several quotes from removal companies. Ideally they should come and take a look at the property first, for free, in order to give you a very accurate quote. 

The time of year you move affects the price

Likewise, the month you move affects the cost. Summer is the most popular time to move, and therefore tends to be the most expensive, as the weather is most reliable, days are long and the lengthy school holidays mean there’s plenty of time to get children settled.

With spring tending to be peak time for people to focus on viewings and moving home, it follows that demand for removal companies will increase a few weeks later. 

Ensure you’re not overcharged by your solicitor 

Obtain quotes for the conveyancing from several solicitors, and check exactly what is included. You may be offered an all-in-one fee, but check what is included. Does it include all letters and postage, the property search, Land Registry and bank fees, and VAT? Ask what the cost would be if the sale were to fall through. 

Shop around for buildings insurance 

Many people have their buildings insurance with their mortgage provider, often because they think they are required to do so. But that’s not the case, and shopping around may result in savings. If you are using a mortgage broker, again, they may encourage you to take out buildings insurance through them, but you do not have to do this. 

Avoid using an estate agent 

Opting for a private property sale, selling directly to the buyer instead of using an estate agent, can result in big cash savings. It can also allow you to reduce the asking price and therefore be more competitive.  

"Opting for a private property sale can result in big cash savings…But it’ll almost certainly be more work"

But it’ll almost certainly be more work: not least DIY marketing, for example leafleting, arranging advertising in publications and registering on online property portals. You will have to organise all property viewings yourself, too. 

You’re more likely to flourish with a private sale as a vendor when there’s a buoyant market with keen buyers and quick sales. But bear in mind that by not using an agent you risk not quickly tapping into their network of potential buyers, exploiting their negotiating skills and their expertise at anticipating hurdles, time-wasters and a host of other factors that could hinder a sale. 

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