Buying a house Moving house diaries

Woman taping up moving boxes

Our interviewees all said that the run-up to moving was stressful, but worth it in the end

Buying and selling a house at the same time can be fraught with obstacles. We asked recent home movers what they wish they'd known before starting the process.

The three case studies below feature a mother of two who wanted a bigger house for her growing family, a young couple who used unusual methods to find their dream home, and a retiree who has downsized and relocated from an urban area to the country.

Our interviewees explain the challenges they encountered and how they overcame them, sharing advice so that you can try to avoid the same things happening in your own home move. You can watch our video interviews with them or scroll beneath each video to read written case studies.

Find out more: Buying and selling a property - everything you need to know about moving house

Kelly's story: buying a bigger house to accommodate a growing family 

Kelly originally wanted a detached period property but ended up buying a terraced new-build townhouse. She advises those in a similar position to be more open-minded when viewing properties.

 

Please enable JavaScript to access this content.

Video transcript

After we sold our house back in December last year, it went through quite quickly we never actually officially marketed the property. So as the property market around where we live is so competitive, we weren't able to view any properties that we wanted to buy, until we would have enough for our own house.

We were lucky that the people that were made the offer on our house, the first time buyers they prepared to wait for us and we were patient enough to wait until we found our perfect home. And ended up taking us six months or so to find the house. By that time, the house prices had increased massively where we live, which meant that we needed more money from them to be able to buy the house that we wanted, because that had increased in value.

So, we ended up having another couple come in and offer more money which enabled us to buy the house. So fortunately, we went with them which was really difficult decision because we'd come quite emotionally attached to the first couple. So my tip could be to try and leave the negotiating and the relationship of the buyers and the sellers to the estate agent because I think it would make things cleaner in the long run.

We initially wanted a detached house, with a drive, with lots of parking I went into a [xx] terraced house which was a newly built. So I wish they would be probably more eco-minded from the beginning, and look at houses that didn't fit our strict criteria sooner, because actually the one we found works really well for us as a family.

Our estate agents were quite high pressure I think, because there was shortage of houses at the time when we were looking to buy. They were quite keen to get a fare on that book because I think, and they were constantly saying that we were the ones that were behind who didn't think that we need to send these information immediately and I didn't think we were given that much time to think about the things they were asking from us.

In hindsight I probably take a step back from every phone call I had with them and asked just for a couple of minutes to think about what they were saying, probably call my husband and asked him to help me with this decision rather than just feeling pressurized to say yes or no in a firm straight way.

The most surprising thing when we moved into the house, was the amount of things that take with them when they had left. These were things like were curtain bows, toy backs, mirrors that were fitted at the sinks in the bathroom, and these are things that we had thought were going to be left behind when we had gone to picture the fitting forms with them. We'd negotiated with them to leave some of the white goods, and then we had also agreed verbally to fix a key [xx] front gate and to go through and to cut the grass in the garden which had massively overgrown, but none of those things they did.

So I found that it cost us quite a lot more than we had budgeted to put right the things that weren't when we moved in. This process is definitely been worth it, it was stressful at times there were days we didn't think would exchange leave alone complete. I don't know if this is our dream home is definitely a step in the right direction to buying a dream house and we're really happy here.

Kelly said: 'The property market where we live is so competitive that we weren't able to view any properties until we had an offer on ours, but we managed to sell our house quite quickly and didn't ever officially market it. We were lucky that the people that made the offer on our house were first-time buyers, and they were prepared to wait until we found our perfect home.

'It ended up taking us six months to find the house we wanted to buy. By that time, house prices had increased massively, which meant that we needed more money to be able to buy the house that we wanted.

'Another couple came in and offered more money, so unfortunately we went with them. It was a really difficult decision because we'd become quite emotionally attached to the first couple. My tip would be to try and leave the negotiating and the relationship of the buyers and the sellers to the estate agent, because I think it makes things cleaner in the long run.

'We initially wanted a detached period house with a drive and lots of parking. We ended up buying a terraced house which was a new-build. I wish that we had been more open-minded from the beginning, and looked at houses that didn't fit our strict criteria sooner, because actually the one we found works really well for us as a family.

'Our estate agents were quite high pressure and I didn't feel we were given much time to think about the things they were asking of us. In hindsight I would have taken a step back from every phone call with them and made the decision together with my husband instead of feeling I had to say yes or no straight away.

'The most surprising thing when we moved into the house was the amount of things the sellers had taken with them when they left - things like curtain poles and mirrors that were fitted above the sinks in the bathrooms, which we didn't think to include in the fixtures and fittings forms. The vendors had also verbally agreed to do things like replace a broken key fob and mow the massively overgrown grass, but none of those things happened! So it cost us a lot more than we'd budgeted to put those things right when we moved in.

'This process has definitely been worth it - it was stressful at times and there were days when we didn't think we'd exchange, let alone complete. Although this isn't our dream home, it's definitely a step in the right direction and we're really happy here.'

Find out more: Finding a property to fit your budget - five questions to help you find a suitable home

Sarah's story: downsizing to the country

Sarah took early retirement and downsized to a rural property. She discusses the importance of scoping out a neighbourhood before agreeing a sale, and what she decided to do with the belongings that wouldn't fit in her new, smaller home.

 

Please enable JavaScript to access this content.

Video transcript

I had the opportunity to take early retirement on full pension. To do so I realized I needed to downsize from my previous property and move to a slightly smaller one. I was living in St Albans and I also realized that by moving just three junctions up the and one I was able to get �500 reduction on my cancel tax, so my bill was also going to be reduced by downsizing. I loved the location, I've got sheep at the end of the garden and ducks and hens so it was the rule I wanted, however one of the things I found out after moving in was the things like services was actually two miles away and the road outside is too busy to walk along. I hadn't realized that when I was looking for the road location I thought that was the bus route and the bus would take me into the town where I could get the local services.

When we have the offer made on our property it was about 40000 pound less than we were advertising it, and my initial reaction was I don't want to take such low cost. But when I spoke to the state agent I found that the property that he had been advertising locally, didn't go for as much that was being advertised.

So actually my recommendation to people would be, don't think that what has been advertised is the price the property is going for. I was very excited about the downsizing, I was looking forward to moving to a new property, I was looking forward to moving out into a more rural area, but I found it a real challenge to do.

I would recommend you to think carefully about packing and when you pack your boxes. I'd been told it doesn't take long. I allowed four weeks and it wasn't enough time. It's non removal [xx] still packing emotionally is very very difficult because you pick something up and you have to decide am I going to keep that and take with me, am I going to give it to the charity shop or am I going to bin it.

Everything you pick up has got an emotional story to you and it is really tough to do. You have to downsize, you have to get rid of things, and it's hard. I used recycling sites, there's sites like Freegoal and Freecycle whether people who would take those things from you and they will use them. They don't go to landfill, they get used and have a new life.

Make use of them, don't put them in storage. If you put them in storage you could be paying a storage bill every single year for something that you don't need and you will never use.

Sarah said: ‘I had the opportunity to take early retirement, and I decided to downsize from my previous property and move to a slightly smaller one. I was living in St Albans and I realised that by moving just three junctions up the M1 I was able to get a £500 reduction on my council tax, so my bills were also going to be reduced by downsizing.

‘I love the location, I've got sheep at the end of the garden, ducks and hens, so it's the rural setting that I wanted. However, after moving in I found that services were actually two miles away, there's no bus and the road outside is too busy to walk along. I hadn't realised that before I moved in.

'When we had the offer made on our property, it was for about £40,000 less than the asking price. My initial reaction was that I didn't want to accept it, but then I found that the property my estate agent had been selling locally didn't ever seem to go for as much as it was being advertised for.

‘I would recommend you think carefully about packing when you're downsizing. I'd been told it doesn't take long, but I allowed four weeks and it wasn't enough time - even on removal day, I was still packing.

‘Emotionally, downsizing is very difficult because for every item you own you have to decide whether to keep it, take it to a charity shop or bin it. It is really tough to do. I used recycling sites like Freegle and Freecycle because then your possessions will have a new life instead of going to landfill. My advice to other downsizers is don't put your things in storage; you'll be paying a bill every year for something you don't need and will never use.'

Find out more: Investigating a neighbourhood - we suggest how to find a great area to live

Amy and James's story: buying a house privately

Amy and James found couldn't find a suitable property listed with an estate agent - so they ended up taking matters into their own hands...

 

Please enable JavaScript to access this content.

Video transcript

I think when we first decided to move, our vision of other preserve a bill we would, within two months, have sold our property, had enough accepted on where we would like to move, and things would go very smoothly.

Smoothly and
actually, it took us probably three months to even get enough of, and it was about six months before we got [xx] sale on that.

So, because we were competing with people in a much better position and that's because we still hadn't sold our flat. We decided to concentrate on make ourselves chain free, so we sold the flat and moved in with our parents and were in a much better position to a property we wanted.

I think living with our parents
was interesting, but I think we were fortunate in the sense that, and we were able to live with them free for as long as we needed, and all we lived in front of the property that we wanted.

The prices of trying to find our dream house was taking a lot longer than we first thought. So to kind of try get advance show other buyers, we would decide to think outside the box and whether you didn't really agree with the idea we decided to leave it drop, and two strings I think? which was an ambitious idea, but it turned out that within the hour we had replying looking at the house and that was it, happy ending.

I suppose obviously for us we got to cut out the estate agents in the prices of having to compete with other buyers, which is a real plus, and but from her point of view I suppose she saved the money on me and the estate agent phase which if we wanted to we probably could have used to negotiate on the price, and she had two kids finding the time to sought of decorate and get a house ready to put on the market was property more than she had, so I think it probably benefited her, and saved her a lot of time and hustle as well.

Advice we'd give to someone buying a house, I suppose if the opportunity is there, you can develop a bit of a relationship or at least have an icon conversation with the seller about your position, and it definitely helps in if you can get them to like either or may have that, that plays a big part of it. People are emotionally attached to their houses, and I think selling it to someone that they consider nice is probably peace of mind. think.

Amy and James said: ‘When we first decided to move, our vision of how the process would proceed would be that we would, within two months, have sold our property, had an offer accepted on where we would like to move to, and things would go very smoothly. But actually, it took us three months to even get an offer, and it was about six months before we'd completed the sale on it.

'Because we were competing with people in a much better position than us (because we still hadn't sold our flat), we decided to concentrate on making ourselves chain-free - so we sold the flat and moved in with our parents. Living with our parents was...interesting! But we were fortunate because we were able to live rent-free for as long as we needed.

'The process of trying to find our dream house was taking longer than we'd anticipated, so we decided to think outside the box and leaflet drop in two streets. It was an ambitious idea, but within the hour we had a reply and we ended up buying that house.

'We got to cut out the estate agent and the process of having to compete with other buyers which was a real plus, and from the vendor's point of view she saved money on the estate agent fees. She also had two kids and didn't have time to decorate and get her house ready to put on the market, so it saved her hassle as well.

‘If you can develop a bit of a relationship or at least have an open conversation with the seller about your position it definitely helps, and if you can get them to like you that's even better - I think that plays a big part of it. People are emotionally attached to their houses, and selling it to someone that they consider nice probably gives them peace of mind.'

Find out more: Estate agent alternatives - how to buy a house without estate agents 

More on this...

Last updated:

February 2016

Updated by:

Joe Elvin

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Which? Limited (registered in England and Wales number 00677665) is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited (registered in England and Wales number 07239342). Which? Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited. Registered office: 2 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF.