9 key things to think about before moving house

9 key things to think about before moving house

Welcome to 2024 and a new era with Laura and Stacey at the helm of the good ship maloco mowat parker with Michael now fulfilling consultancy duties. It’s been a brisk start to the new year with both listings and sales targets achieved ahead of the month end and with plenty of signs for optimism for the year ahead.

Easter this year is one of the early ones. To be honest, I’ve never really understood why Easter isn’t just fixed in April in the same way we fix Christmas? Anyway, given that Easter falls at the end of March this means Lent coincides with Valentines Day and that Pancake day is just two weeks away on the 13th February. Lent is of course traditionally a time of sacrifice which sacrifices are of course mostly notional such as giving up wine or chocolate and any penitential benefit is quickly reversed by an Easter egg mega-binge!

Moving home often also involves having to make small sacrifices and letting go of somethings on a wish list. Whether you’re upsizing to accommodate a growing family, downsizing as an empty nester, or moving location it makes sense to decide at the beginning of the process what you’re prepared to give up, and where to draw the red lines.

Prior to my retirement at the end of last year I had been a conveyancing solicitor and estate agency partner for just shy of 40 years. That and the experience of colleagues in the practice has allowed me to get a pretty good handle on what is worth compromising on and what isn’t. Having helped thousands of clients buy and sell over the years one develops a gut instinct and a good idea when a move will likely work and when it’s more likely that we’ll be acting again sooner rather than later as clients move again. Now whilst that may be better for us financially it clearly isn’t for our clients and despite any financial gain we would genuinely rather our clients were happy in their new homes.

So here are some basic, but I hope, sound pieces of advice based upon my experiences and those of my clients. Of course, each and every client and every move is different, predicated upon a different set of circumstances and different motivations but as a generalisation the following could help you avoid costly mistakes if you are beginning to consider your next move.

  1. Don’t give up your family! And we all want to at some point don’t we?! Joking apart, unless it is unavoidable such as relocating for work, or for a complete lifestyle makeover, moving far away from your nearest and dearest when it’s not required is rarely a good idea. Fr flung families mean lack of togetherness and support, so do as much as you can to create cohesion amongst family members. If it simply isn’t practical to live close by, then factor in ease of travel when choosing a location. WhatsApp and Facetime help but they’re no substitute for a hug and a cup of tea.
  2. There are numerous good reasons to downsize, but giving up a house that has been a home for decades is hard enough without making unnecessary sacrifices. Don’t give up anything that is going to detrimentally affect your relationship with your partner and other family members. Prime examples include hobby space, second bathrooms and sheds – facilities that allow people their own space and make relationships more harmonious. Be inventive with the layout of your new place. If you’ll have a garage, a little-used dining room or a spare room, give it up instead and allocate it to the member of the family that needs the space.
  3. If you’re green-fingered and still able to manage gardening don’t give up on a garden. If you enjoy gardening the health benefits are well documented so compromise perhaps instead on the property rather than the outside space. A good-sized plot could mean that you can extend in the future, and this constitutes sensible future-proofing.
  4. Don’t give up on good schools for existing or future children. A great house in sadly the wrong area with an under-performing school will only cause stress. Plan well ahead, not just immediate education requirements, but up to the end of secondary school.
  5. Don’t give up on your chosen location too soon. If you’ve been unsuccessful in offers in your chosen location perceiver and again maybe consider making a few compromises on must-haves. It’s tempting to buy more house for less money in a less prime area, but always follow the advice in the old adage that counsels “Buy the worst house in the best street and never the best house in the worst street”.
  6. If you’ve left downsizing late in life, don’t give up your community without a great deal of thought. It tends to be more challenging to form strong friendships later in life, so don’t underestimate the value of your local people, and don’t rush to live in a distant location.
  7. Do give up your enormous family house that has become an empty nest sooner rather than later. Do it early enough to make the most of the benefits of downsizing such as released equity, fewer maintenance responsibilities and costs, and ability to lock up and leave. The longer you leave it the more dated your kitchen and bathroom choices may appear and yet it is unlikely you will want to invest then considerable sums such refurbishments require if you are unlikely yourselves to enjoy them.
  8. When downsizing in later life, concentrate on layout and what will work as the years progress, and you become perhaps a little less mobile. It’s a mistake to try to recreate exactly what you’ve had but just on a smaller scale. It’s the time of life to be a little more selfish about your property choices now that you don’t need to consider the needs and preferences of children.
  9. Don’t give up on the thing you’ve always wanted – whether that’s an Aga, a shed, an open plan kitchen, a south-facing garden, off-street parking, a utility room, or anything else. Moving house is hard work, and there are often sacrifices to be made, so make sure you give yourself a treat. You may have to look a bit harder to find the right house, or make some modifications, but do try to factor in at least one item that’s at the top of your ‘want’ rather than ‘need’ list.

Keep these tips in mind and hopefully your move won’t be one you later regret.

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