5 costly mistakes property buyers make – and how you can avoid them

Moving house is 2020's answer to being unable to go on holiday – but a property purchase does need a lot more thinking through

Buying a property
(Image credit: JMP Solicitors)

Itching to move house? Property news this year has been dominated by reports of people re-evaluating their life situations and going for the big move that had seemed impossible pre-pandemic. More flexibility with home working, shifting life priorities, and even the ability to save a bit more money during lockdown have spurred many buyers to just go for it, undeterred by rising house prices and the recession.

But is moving necessarily such a great idea right now? A recent Zoopla survey suggests that many people find their house move costlier, more stressful, and ultimately less rewarding than they had anticipated. It looks like rushing to a decision just doesn't pay off where property is concerned. 

So, if you don't want your big move to result in buyer's remorse, concentrate on the following key areas to make sure the decision you make is the correct one. 

1. Budget carefully

Keeping abreast of house prices is one thing, but thorough budgeting for all aspects of a property purchase will need you to take into account survey and conveyancing costs, as well as any work that will need to be done to the property after you move in.

Shockingly, of the 2,400 people Zoopla polled, 40 per cent paid more for their new house than they had anticipated, with one third having to shell out £1,000 or more than they had planned. 

2. Do your research

We all do our research when we plan a holiday or any other big purchase, and yet a whopping 46 per cent of home owners wish they had researched their new home more thoroughly, even wishing in retrospect that they had spoken to their neighbours. Simple checks of essentials like broadband speeds can contribute to making the right decision about the home, to say nothing about noise from nearby construction work or even the aspect of a garden. 

3. If you're selling first, maximise your home's potential

For all of Brits' self-professed obsession with home improvements, when it comes to selling, over half (53 per cent) wish they had done more to present their home in an attractive way to potential buyers, which would have resulted in a better sale price. In fact, 84 per cent even feel that it's worth paying to stage your property for a sale to maximise its potential. 

Check out our top tips for how to sell a house faster.

4. Understand the property chain before committing

Getting stuck in the middle of a property chain where you can't sell because your buyer isn't able to sell, or you can't move because your seller also can't move is, sadly, very common. In fact, property chains can get so complicated, that 18 per cent of movers say they nearly lost out on their house move altogether. 

Our advice: if you need to sell quickly, choose a chain-free buyer. First-time buyers are your best bet in this respect. And try, if at all possible, not to sell before you complete your new house purchase, unless you have somewhere you could stay if it all falls through. 

5. Don't underestimate how stressful moving is

The truth is, moving house takes it out of you – 62 per cent of house movers say that moving was far more stressful than they had anticipated; only 11 per cent had a smooth experience. Moving itself may be the last step of a long process, but don't underestimate how long it will take, or how physically and mentally exhausting it will be. Plan everything as much in advance as possible, and give yourself a good few weeks to pack up (a full month is even better, and we're not exaggerating).  

Check out our essential house moving checklist to help make the process less stressful. 

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