Buying your first home may well be your most expensive move to date, but there are many ways you can keep the costs involved down – here are our top tips on being a money-smart mover >>
You’re about to take your first step on to the property ladder, but how much will your home actually cost you? Beyond the price of your property, you’ll be met with some big one-off fees, as well as the cost of everything from new furniture to parcel tape. It’s a costly business – but there are many ways to keep the damage to a minimum and even save some money along the way.
WORK OUT THE TRUE COST
Brace yourself and work out the true cost of your move – only then can you budget effectively. moneysavingexpert.co.uk offers a comprehensive list of the outlays you’re facing, which include one-off fees, removals, furniture and connection fees.
The bigger fees will include the mortgage arrangement, valuation, legal fees and stamp duty (on properties over £250,000). Remember, though, it is possible to gain control over some of these and save money in some unexpected places.
Legal fees (paid to a solicitor or conveyancer) will vary, and it’s possible to shop around – get a number of quotes from reallymoving.com and ask questions to ensure there are no hidden costs on cheap looking quotes.
You’ll also be paying for a survey. On new builds, these are likely to cost less, and if the survey finds work that is unfinished, the developer can be pushed to put things right before you complete – saving you money on later repairs. If a survey on an older property reveals problem issues, it could provide ammunition to haggle on the property price.
NEGOTIATE ON ‘SET’ CHARGES
If you’re already renting, it’s likely you have TV, broadband and phone packages in place. Although many companies offer free connection services to new customers, the same companies may charge you for reconnecting your existing package to a new home. It may seem as if it’s a fee set in stone, but in some cases it can be negotiated. Use your call to the disconnection team to try your negotiation skills and find the best deals: can they waive the fee? Can they reduce it? Or should you go with a new provider?
Some companies may also charge an ‘early termination fee’ if you give them less than 30 days’ notice before moving, so be sure to call suppliers as soon as you get a moving date.
CAPITALISE ON YOUR CLUTTER
It is sometimes said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so selling your pre-loved and unused items is a great way to generate some extra revenue to help with the moving costs.
Use auction websites to sell everything from unwanted video games and unused gifts to good quality clothing or simply bits you just don’t want to take with you. If you’re using eBay.co.uk, it’s a good idea to wait for its free listings weekends. Alternatively, use preloved.co.uk or gumtree.co.uk, where you can list items for free all the time. Be sure to start early, as it can sometimes take time to sell.
If you can handle an early start, taking smaller items to a local car boot sale could bring in some extra pennies. When it comes to moving day, you’ll be thankful you decluttered – after all, having less stuff to move will make it lighter and cheaper.
SHOP SECOND HAND
After living in rented furnished accommodation, it may be a bit of a shock when you realise your new home will be completely unfurnished. You may be moving a few bits of furniture with you, but the vast majority will need to be acquired – everything from bed, sofa, dining table, chairs to bedside tables and even the toilet brush. It’s time to start shopping smart – go second hand, where you can.
Register with freecycle.org, where locals post their free giveaways in return for your hasty collection. It’s possible to acquire most things this way, and remember, you don’t have to keep them forever, and you can always re-freecycle them when you have more money to buy exactly what you want.
Check local papers for listings, and visit car boot sales – it’s still possible to pick up bargains via these means. Local pound stores will also see you good for smaller items like washing-up bowls and that elusive toilet brush.
If you’re moving from a small furnished place, it may be possible to do the entire move by yourself. Start by acquiring your removal boxes free from local supermarkets – ask in store if they have any large boxes. It’s also worth asking at the fruit and veg section for bubble wrap. Alternatively, use auction sites to buy cheap packing boxes as well as cheap parcel tape and labels – buying in a store will cost more, and all these extra outlays do add up.
Round up any friends with a van or large car who may be able to help on the actual day in exchange for dinner and a few drinks. You can always agree to help them on their next moving day in return too.
Van hire can also be acquired cheaply: be sure to compare costs from large and small hire companies, or check local listings for a local ‘man with a van’. If you’re hiring a van, be sure to book as far in advance as possible – prices tend to go up closer to the hiring day.
EARN CASH BACK ON UTILITIES
Earn some much-needed cash back by signing up with sites such as quidco.com or freefivers.co.uk. These sites list offers from various utility companies (as well as UK retailers) alongside the various cash back incentives available. Check these sites before you move to get a good idea of what you can get. Starting an online account with your energy supplier is also likely to save you money.
If you’re moving into a property on your own, don’t forget to claim your 25% discount on council tax. This can make a big difference to your monthly outgoings. Simply inform your local council after you have moved.
IT’S GOOD TO TALK
Even the biggest businesses still believe that old-fashioned word of mouth is the best form of advertising. Speak to people – friends, colleagues, family – it’s likely one or more will know someone who can help you, perhaps at a reduced cost. A friend may know a solicitor or surveyor, someone with a van, or perhaps a colleague is looking to get rid of some furniture – it can all help.
Use your social network sites too – putting a call out on Twitter or Facebook for referrals and recommendations could widen your options even further. Don’t be afraid to ask because if you don’t ask, you don’t get!