If you’ve decided to move home and you’re worried about completing before Christmas – we can help. With the average time from offer to moving in sitting at around 8 weeks, it’s completely possible to be settled in your new property with the tree up and the turkey in the oven before the family arrives!
You can feel like you’re not in control of the process, and sacrifices may have to be made if you’re desperate to get in by December, but we’ve got top tips and tricks to make it happen.
It’s a race against time – are you ready?
Buying, selling, or both?
If you’re just buying a new home, it’s going to be quicker and simpler than juggling two transactions.
Make it clear to the estate agent when you put an offer down that your main aim is to be in before Christmas. You may be told it’s possible just to get you to commit, so talk to the sellers about their plans, as well as your conveyancing solicitor. Remember, all these people involved in your sale will want to be off for the Christmas break too, so the more you can get done in advance to get the ball rolling, the better!
If you’re selling your home and buying another, be aware of the chain – getting stuck in a long chain could add months to the buying journey. Prioritise a cash buyer who is eager to move in as soon as possible and buy a property with either no chain or a short chain. If you’re in the market for a new build, that will also avoid the chain.
Cash poor or time poor?
If you had unlimited amounts of time to sell your property, you might make more from it. But if your priority is to be in by Christmas (and hopefully with time to unpack and settle in) you’re likely to settle for a lower price.
If you’re lucky and your property is in high demand, perhaps you’ll have a choice of buyers willing to pay the right price. Be realistic about valuations and encourage your estate agent to do the same – estate agents will often value the property optimistically in the hope that you’ll trust them to sell.
Make it clear exactly what you need for the move to be worth it. If you get more for it, great! If you don’t, you’ll get what you need to move in the time you need.
Prepping your home
You’re much more likely to sell your home quickly if you put the effort into making it look great.
You may not have the time to do everything you want, but identify the problem areas, fix what you can, and give the property a good, deep clean. Selling, donating or recycling as much as you can will not only make your property look better, but will make it easier for you when packing to move.
Get your family and friends in to help, get out the bin bags and make sure you don’t spend too long wondering if you’re ever going to use that spare waffle maker – you’re on a deadline. If you haven’t used it/worn it/thought about it for 6 months, let it go.
When it comes to making sure your property looks as appealing as possible, small details make a big difference – let as much natural light into the property as you can, ensure windows are thoroughly cleaned, and keep any pets out of the way. Even if you don’t have the time or energy to repaint, make the effort with small things – fixing that broken door handle, or the angle on that wonky picture frame.
The price is right
If you’re selling - be realistic. We’ve already said you’re likely to sell for less in order to move quickly. But what do you need to get your new property? Calculate what the move will cost you, and account for conveyancing fees, surveys and everything else.
Look at what else has sold in your area and make your property enough of a steal that the offers will flow in from the minute it’s listed. Ensure photographs are appealing, and emphasise the advantages of the property, but really, it’s all about the price.
If you’re just buying – make it as easy as possible to get moving quickly and avoid getting gazumped. Make an offer the seller is happy with and be sure they’re on board with moving promptly too.
Be aware of the prices of the services you need and make sure to get quotes. Remember, most of the people who will be working on your house purchase (estate agents, surveyors, conveyancing solicitors and removals teams) will likely want to be off celebrating their own Christmas holidays. So be aware that a quick move may be stressful for them, and that time off may have an impact. More than that, check prices and availability, especially with your removals team when it’s coming up to the holidays.
Know where, what and why
It’s likely that if you’re eager to move before Christmas, you know where you want to go. Do your research, adapt your expectations and know exactly what you’re able to get for your money.
It’s a game of compromise - work out what your absolute necessities are, and what you’re willing to be flexible on.
For every sticking point, have a flexible element – if you need to be in a certain area, but those houses don’t have a feature you wanted, decide which one is more important.
If time is limited, and you’re moving quite far away, ensure you book as many viewings as you can on the same day, and blitz your buying opportunities. Take pictures, keep lists and assess at the end of the day.
If you’re going to need a mortgage, do your research and find a good deal as soon as possible. Get your mortgage in principle ahead of viewing any properties.
Find a trusted conveyancing solicitor
Even when you’re against the clock, you’re going to need a highly qualified conveyancing solicitor to make sure everything is above board, and the paperwork and payments go through smoothly.
Pick trusted companies with great reviews and make it clear from the beginning that your main priority is to move in by Christmas. Ask them when their offices close for the holidays, how many people are working in the office, if your particular solicitor is off on holiday, what the cover is like and if they can work to your deadline.
Get a survey
You like the property, it seems great, and you’re in a rush – it would be easy to just leave the survey, it looks fine, right? No!
Getting a survey is so important. If the property seems to be generally in good condition, get a HomeBuyer’s Report, so you can get an overall assessment, highlight any issues and get a valuation.
Many Chartered Surveyors can turn around a report in a few days, so mention you’re on a deadline and see what they can do. Just don’t miss out your survey!
You’ll feel much better eating that turkey dinner in your new home without fear of the roof caving in. Surveys ensure you make the right decision in buying a property and equip you with the information you need.
Pick a RICS registered surveyor, and again, be clear that you’re on a deadline.
Right, you’ve got a buyer, you’re happy with the offer, you’ve got a new property, you’re happy with the price…the survey says it’s in good condition, your conveyancing solicitor has all your details and either your mortgage is set up, or you’re buying outright – time to get that money moving and sign that paperwork!
Remember that even whilst you’re in a hurry, your financial safety is important. Fraudsters will attempt to take advantage of any confusion or distraction.
Always ensure payments are made to the correct bank accounts and don’t trust any emails telling you that the bank details have changed, even if it looks like it’s from your solicitor.
Friday Afternoon Fraud is more of a danger at the end of the week, and so hackers will benefit from you rushing through if you don’t take the time to double check where your money is going. Talk to your solicitor directly when you’re about to make a payment.
Our Conveyancing partner Beaumont Legal
"A date can only be set when all parties in the chain are ready and all solicitors are in receipt of mortgage offers, signed documents, searches and any other information they have requested. We’d advise you to have a conveyancer in place and instructed around 10-12 weeks before your target move date to account for any delays that could happen during this busy period. It is always advisable to instruct a conveyancer mid-September to cover any delays."
Move, move, move!
Hopefully, the minute you get an offer on your home you’ll get started packing those boxes. You can find great deals on buying packing boxes and we even have a guide on how to pack easily, room by room.
But perhaps it makes more sense to get your movers to do it for you. They’ll be efficient, ensure everything is packed carefully and quickly, will bring their own materials and will even take the boxes away for you after.
Assess how many items need transportation and make note of which things need to be dismantled before they can be moved. Book a reputable moving company as soon as you know the sale has gone through, because it’s likely the holiday period will either be very busy, or people will want to be off with their families, rather than moving the entire contents of your home!
List everything you need moving, be clear about access, give yourselves enough time, and check the traffic, as well as parking near your new home. Choose a removals team who will come out to your home and give you a quote in person, so they know what to expect.
And maybe wait to buy the Christmas tree until after you’ve moved into your new home.
There are our top tips for a Christmas move. You’ll be hanging your stockings before you know it. Just remember to send Santa a ‘change of address’ card.
Updated September 2018