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Did you know that the busiest day of the year for moving home is usually the last Friday in August? Good luck if that’s you, sister. That, coupled with the unexpected pandemic side effect of itchy feet, means that thousands of us have moved house in the past year, with many are still in the (sometimes) hellish process of doing so.

So, it’s perfect timing for our friends at Lightfoots, solicitors serving Oxon, Berks and Bucks, to point out the pitfalls when making the move, and save you buckets of cash… and stress.

In any round-up of stressful life events, moving home is always high on the list! Whilst we can’t help you navigate your sofa out of your front door or find that pesky tin opener following the move, we can advise you of some ways to reduce the overall stress of the process. Here goes…

1/ Choose the right conveyancer 

Find a conveyancer you can contact directly rather than going through to a general “conveyancing team” so you know you’re not being passed from person to person. Ask your conveyancer about their current workload and notify them at the outset of any time constraints to check they can realistically meet your deadlines. Using a conveyancer who has local knowledge of the area is helpful as they won’t be raising unnecessary additional enquiries which can cause delays.If your conveyancer has been recommended by your estate agent, find out whether there is a referral fee involved. Sometimes, the agents “recommendation” is purely based on them receiving a fee and not based on merit. 

2/ Get your paperwork in order

The dreaded job of sorting through paperwork after having stuffed it into a drawer out of sight for goodness know how long is probably the last thing you want to do. Well, get sorting early as this will save you and your conveyancer a lot of time in the long run. Documents you will be required to provide include:-

ID  – You will be asked to provide your passport or driving license (or other photo ID) and also proof of address such as a utility bill or bank statement dated within the last three months. Proof of Funds  – If you are purchasing, you will be required to prove where your funds are coming from and where they have been over at least a three month period. When selling, you will be asked to complete a Property Information Form which includes details of any building works, boiler installations, electricity works etc. By locating these documents at the outset, you will save additional enquiries needing to be raised which in turn will speed up the conveyancing process. The most commonly requested documents include: New Home Warranty documentationPlanning Permissions and Building Regulation Completion Certificates Boiler Building Regulation Compliance Certificate (Gas Safe/HETASS etc.) Windows and Doors Building Regulation Compliance Certificates (FENSA/CERTASS etc.)Electrical Works Building Regulation Compliance Certificates (NICEIC/ELECSA/NAPIT etc.) Any Guarantees or Warranties for works such as damp proofing, works to the roof, woodworm treatment etc.  

3/ Be Realistic

How long the process will take is dependent upon a lot of things (many entirely out of your control) including the length of the chain, whether you need a mortgage and whether you are purchasing a freehold or leasehold property, to name a few. Your conveyancer should be able to give you a general idea of timings at the outset, but it is hard to say until further into the process once all documentation has been received and reviewed.  

The typical conveyancing process usually takes between 8-10 weeks. However, this can be shorter or longer depending on the properties. Issues that can arise include search delays, holiday absences or issues with mortgages being offered. As tempting as it is we would always advise that you don’t book removals or set plans in stone until contracts have been exchanged, as this only puts more stress and pressure on you and can in some instances prove costly!

4/ Get a Survey

The one thing about this job that never fails to shock us is when clients don’t have a survey carried out on the property they are purchasing. It is probably one of the biggest investments you will ever make, so make sure you are investing in something that will not cost you more than you budgeted for. 

An important thing to note is that a Mortgage Valuation is NOT a Survey. At best the lender will send in a valuer to take a brief look around the property and, put crudely, to make sure it is still standing and has the right amount of bedrooms in it… Some lenders just send somebody to drive past it (known as a “drive-by”) to make sure it exists! And more recently it is common for many high street lenders to carry out “Desktop Valuations” which they do from the comfort of their office! 

A survey can vary in complexity and cost so it is important to speak to a few surveyors to find out the best survey for the property you are purchasing and to compare quotes. We have had clients who have discovered works costing tens of thousands of pounds being needed to a property that were not visible upon initial inspection and which were not discovered by the mortgage valuer. By spending a few hundred pounds at the outset, you can save thousands in the future. One further warning though – check your chosen surveyors own liability clause to ensure they are adequately insured and professional findings supported by a warranty so you have suitable recourse to them if their survey proves defective or inadequate.

5/ Agree your preferred communication

If you prefer your updates by email then let your conveyancer know. Equally if you are someone that only periodically reads your emails and would prefer to receive papers in the post or an update via a weekly catch up call then again, make sure that is clear. We don’t want to send you emails if you won’t read them, but equally daily phone calls can be disruptive and time consuming for all so if a call works best for you then agree a regular time slot to get a comprehensive update.

Good luck!

Thinking of making the move?

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