For the vast majority, Christmas is all about family and friends, presents, and eating your own body weight in turkey. For some, however, it is little more than a deadline, a challenge, a point in the near future where their new home is.
If you are one of these homeowners or prospective buyers considering a move before Christmas, acting quickly to increase your chances of a smooth relocation is key, particularly as the housing market appears to be holding its momentum despite the end of the stamp duty holiday rush.
So, with no sign of the market slowing, mortgage rates remaining at an all-time low and the fear that there may be another national lockdown looming, the months leading up to Christmas are crucial for those navigating the homebuying process if they would like to complete before the 22nd December deadline.
To help the process move forward as seamlessly as possible during this pivotal time, the conveyancing experts at JMP Solicitors have compiled a list of advice tips for those aiming to be moved by the Christmas period during these uncertain times.
Jacqui Harley, head of residential conveyancing at JMP Solicitors, said: “Although the deadline for the reduced stamp duty is fast approaching at the end of the month – we predict we’ll continue to see a large influx of people buying and selling as buyers wish to benefit from the lowest mortgage rates we’ve seen in some time.
“If you want to move before Christmas you’ll need to act quickly, but it’s still certainly achievable. We’ve outlined some things to consider if you are looking to move before this date.”
Get the property ready for marketing
Once the decision has been made to move to a new house before Christmas, it’s a good idea to smarten up your home before putting your property on the market. Declutter the property and redecorate if necessary, a coat of paint can work wonders, as can giving the house a deep clean, emptying the loft and turning the storage/junk room into a useable space. Your property will then be more appealing to a prospective buyer, especially with a realistic price tag – always check the market.
Choose the right selling agent for you
Ensure to invite a number of estate agents to your property not only to consider different property valuations and fees but to get an understanding of how they operate. A good relationship with your selling agent can make all the difference in ensuring the process runs as smoothly as possible.
Book surveyors as soon as possible
Once you have found a property you would like to buy, it’s worth ensuring that you get a decent survey before you commit to any purchase - if the boiler does not work and you’ve already moved in, prepare for an expensive replacement, especially around Christmas time. There are currently no restrictions on the types of surveys that can be carried out, but tradespeople must liaise with owners of the property to ensure an appropriate clean has been undertaken before entering the property and must keep to government safety working guidelines whilst in the property.
Consider your packing arrangements and book a removal van as early as possible
If you are using a removals company, try and book as early as possible. With many removal companies suffering a shortage in drivers it’s becoming more difficult to accommodate all of the house moves taking place. It’s also important to keep communicating with the company in the event dates change to ensure they can accommodate you. Be sure to take advice from your solicitor on moving timescales.
If you are opting for DIY packing, it is best to start at least three weeks before your moving date to box up items that you aren’t currently using. This will make the whole process less stressful and will also help with the de-cluttering of items that you never use or don't need, which can go to charity. Writing the contents and room on each box will help organise your packing and make unpacking easier. Where possible you should try and do the packing yourself to reduce the amount of contact between items.
Be patient and prepared
Timescales can often shift depending on how long a chain is, and with changing government advice, there is a possibility for delays at this time. Further unexpected delays could also incur If someone involved in the transaction tests positive for COVID-19 during the moving process or has to self-isolate.
Ensure when viewing a property that you communicate your wishes to move before Christmas to an estate agent and solicitor. Your conveyancer and agent will then keep you updated with any changes that may cause delays when moving home.
Don’t forget to tie up loose ends
Be sure to inform utility companies that you are moving and have all mail forwarded to your new address once you have exchanged contracts. Write your Christmas cards in plenty of time and post with your new address pre-printed inside, this saves time and money on separate letters and messages.
Look after your pets
Both pets and young children can find moving home very stressful. Whilst animals can be kept safe and secure in a separate room to the unpacking, it is best to see if family or friends can look after children for the day so that they do not get anxious about the moving process and leaving their old home, this way they won’t feel unsettled and can just enjoy the excitement of arriving at their new home.