16 tips for moving house

Read our step-by-step guide to moving house. From costs, paperwork and contracts, we’ve got you covered for a stress-free move.

Moving home tips for a stress-free move

A step-by-step guide to moving home

From deciding to move to completion, our stress-free, step-by-step guide outlines everything you need to consider when you decide to sell up and move. So, let’s dive in and find out how to move house.

1. Consider whether you should move home

The first step towards moving is deciding if it’s the right course of action for you. If you’re dead set on moving, no matter what, then you won’t have to give this a lot of thought. However, if you’re still weighing up the idea, there are a few things you might consider.

Moving house costs

Whether it’s estate agent fees or Capital Gains Tax, you need to understand how much moving home is going to cost. It’s vital that you research and compare different quotes before settling on a service, as you could save a lot of money and you’ve got a much better chance of working within your budget.

Some of the fees you might have to account for include:

  • Estate agent fees
  • Conveyancing/legal fees
  • Cost of an Energy Performance Certificate
  • Survey fees
  • Capital Gains Tax
  • Removal costs


Before kicking off the whole process, it’s worth getting an idea of whether any prospective sale will be affordable when you consider the bigger picture. While you’ll settle on a figure for how much your home is worth with your estate agent, you can get an idea of what other properties in the area have sold for by searching the Land Registry or a website like Zoopla or Rightmove

Next, find out the outstanding balance of your current mortgage from your lender. You should be able to roughly calculate how much of the proceeds of your sale you will be able to put towards a new property once you’ve paid off your loan. This should give you an approximate baseline of how much you should budget for.

You should also consider the prices that houses are selling for in the area you’d like to move to — is there likely to be a shortfall once you’ve sold up? If so, it’s worth thinking about whether the price difference is affordable and whether you’re in a good position to secure the funding via a remortgage or other means.

Your finances

How are you doing financially? This is a question worth asking yourself before you decide to go ahead with any life-changing decisions, such as selling your home. Factors like your age, savings level, income, levels of debt and credit rating can all play a part in your decision to move house, so you may wish to speak to a financial adviser if you’re not sure if moving home is a good idea at this time.

Is it worth staying put?

While you may like the idea of starting afresh in a new home, it may make more sense to stay put and work with your current home. This may be purely for financial reasons, but it’s also worth considering if there is any practical benefit to sticking with your current house.

For instance, if you’re considering a move as you’re running out of space, it may be possible to either renovate or extend your property to accommodate your needs. This option may actually turn out to be more cost effective compared to relocating, and you don’t need to go through the process of moving house. On the other hand, you may need to live through your home becoming a building site if the work is extensive.

2. Decide if renting your next home is an option

Are you set on selling your house and buying a new one? Though it’s not the perfect option for everyone, renting does take the pressure off finding the ‘perfect’ home and helps break the housing chain — so it may be something you want to consider.

There are pros and cons to both options that may sway you in one direction over the other:

Advantages of renting Drawbacks of renting
  • Cheaper upfront
  • More flexibility to keep your options open
  • Less responsibility for your property
  • No maintenance bills
  • No pressure of a housing chain
  • Clean break if you buy later
  • Need to abide by tenancy agreements
  • Less security
  • Your rent can change
  • Money goes to your landlord
Advantages of buying Drawbacks of buying
  • Payments contribute towards your asset
  • Freedom to change your home
  • Greater security for the future
  • Can be cheaper when interest rates fall
  • May make money from property sale later
  • Big financial commitment
  • You’re responsible for all repairs
  • Your future is tied up in the property
  • Part of housing chain when buying

3. Manage your mortgage

Settled on moving? You’ll need to decide what course of action you want to take with your mortgage:

  • Porting your mortgage: Moving your existing deal over to your new property
  • Redeeming your mortgage: Paying up your existing mortgage and taking out a new one

Whatever route you take, the first thing you need to do, if you haven’t already, is check the terms of your mortgage to find out if there are any fees for repaying before the end of your term. These will most likely come in the form of early repayment charges (ERC), which are typically set at between 1–5% of your balance. ERCs can quickly put a dent in your budget, so you’ll need to take them into account.

It’s also worth checking the terms of your mortgage to find out whether it’s actually portable — not all products are. If it isn’t portable, you won’t be able to move it over to your new property, so your only option will be to pay off your current loan and apply for a new one.

Let’s take a look at the mortgage options when you’re moving in more detail.

Porting your mortgage

Porting your mortgage means moving your current mortgage rate and terms over to your new property, so you will continue with the same lender. It’s important to understand that it’s only the deal that transfers over, not the loan, so you’ll still have to reapply and undergo assessment.

The main advantage of choosing to port your mortgage is if you’re already on a great rate, it means you can keep benefiting from it even after moving home. Even if you can get a better rate elsewhere, you might prefer to port over your mortgage to avoid paying the extra fees you’ll need to pay taking out a new loan.

It’s worth noting that when you port your mortgage, you’ll still need to undergo the same affordability and credit checks that you went through when first taking out your loan. You’ll also still need to cover the costs of any legal or valuation fees, as well as paying Stamp Duty.

Porting at Atom: If you’re an existing Atom mortgage customer, the good news is we offer mortgage porting through our moving home mortgages. You can speak to a broker and start the process today.

Redeeming your mortgage

You also have the option of paying off your current mortgage loan and taking out a new one. This is known as redeeming your mortgage.

The main advantage of choosing to redeem your mortgage is that you’ll have a wider choice of mortgage deals and rates across the market. You may wish to speak to an independent broker if you’re interested in this route, as they will be able to provide whole-of-market advice and help you with any application.

In choosing this option, you’ll likely need to pay an ERC when paying off your current loan early. This is most likely to apply if you’re still within the introductory period of your current mortgage, such as a fixed rate period. You may not need to pay any ERCs if you’re on your lender’s standard variable rate.

You will also essentially be applying for a new mortgage from scratch, so you’ll need to complete an application and undergo affordability and credit checks as you did when you first took out your previous mortgage. There will likely be similar costs to pay as well, as you’ll need to cover the likes of arrangement, legal and valuation fees with your application.

Applying for a mortgage with Atom: If you’re looking for a new mortgage deal after redeeming your old one, be sure to check out our mortgage products. They’re only available through a broker, so you’ll always be advised on the right product for you, whether that’s with us or someone else. Use our find a broker tool at the link above to get started.

What if I need to borrow more?

If your new home is more expensive than your current home, you may wish to borrow more when exploring your mortgage options. There are three options for doing this:

  1. Port and increase your current mortgage: Subject to your current lender, you may be able to port your current deal over to your new home and increase your loan amount. This means you’ll still only be making one repayment and probably won’t need to pay an arrangement fee or ERC.
  2. Port your current mortgage, but take out an extra loan: You may be able to port over your current deal with your lender, but take out an extra mortgage loan to cover the difference in property price. This means you will be making two repayments each month, and your second loan may have a different rate and terms to your existing deal.
  3. Redeem your current mortgage, then apply for a larger loan: If you choose to redeem your mortgage and look elsewhere, you may be able to apply for a loan that meets the price of your new home from scratch. While there may be additional costs to this (ERCs, arrangement fees), you will benefit from being able to shop around and choose a rate and deal that’s right for you.

4. Find an estate agent

Are you set on a local estate agent? Or are you open to using an online service? Choosing an estate agent and agreeing on a contract you’re happy with is a vital part of the process.

Typically, you should be able to agree around a 1% plus VAT agent fee. Online agents tend to charge a lower fixed up-front fee than more traditional estate agents, while also having access to full floorplans and a larger pool of online listings. However, though online agents do tend to be the cheapest way to sell a house, it may be the case that you’d prefer having face-to-face help.

Remember, whether you’re opting for an online or local agent, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re agreeing to. Never sign on the dotted line without reading the small print.

5. Apply for an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), is a standardised document that helps categorise properties by their energy efficiency. All homeowners need an EPC to give to potential buyers — so you have to at least apply for an EPC before putting your home on the market.

You can search using this gov.uk tool to see if your property has a valid EPC. If your home doesn’t have an in-date EPC, then you’ll need to commission one here.

6. Settle on an asking price

Entering the market with the right asking price is vital. Too low and you’ll end up out of pocket, but too high, and you might miss the mark and end up unable to make a sale.

It’s important to thoroughly research the market and understand how much homes like yours are selling for. If you haven’t already, you can use the Land Registry or websites like Zoopla or Rightmove to check the prices of properties that have sold recently in your area, which should give you a ballpark figure.

Be sure to get several valuations and don’t just pick the highest. Remember, when deciding on a price, buyers will most likely want to negotiate you down — so you may want to keep that in mind.

7. Instruct a conveyancer or solicitor

Now for the legal side of things. Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring a home from one owner to another, and you’ll need to make sure you’ve chosen a conveyancer or solicitor to take care of this — ideally, before putting your home on the market.

Having a licensed conveyancer or solicitor before you accept an offer on your home will help show your buyer that you’re serious about the sale. If your estate agent recommends a solicitor, remember that there may be a referral fee attached and that you’re free to choose your own, should you wish.

8. Get your home ready

First impressions matter. Set the scene, sell the dream and stage your home. From decluttering to repainting, making your home pretty for potential buyers is a very important part of the process.

According to the annual HomeOwner Survey (HOA), more than 68% of homeowners say kerb appeal was important in their choice of home. The most important factors were windows being in good condition, as well as a properly maintained roof and a tidy front garden and driveway.

From the garden to the windows, you want your home to be in good shape and well-kept so as to secure the best price and increase your chances of selling. Here are a few suggestions on where to start:

  • Make sure the lawn is mown
  • Cleaning your windows and frames
  • Keep your front door and any fences well maintained
  • Depersonalise your home so as to appeal to a wider range of buyers
  • Maximise the light coming into darker areas by hanging mirrors
  • Make sure each room demonstrates a clear purpose

9. Take care of the paperwork

Selling a home involves a lot of forms, documents, and questionnaires. Though they’re certainly not the most exciting part of the process, they do give the buyer all the information they need on the property they’re purchasing. Here are some of the forms you’ll need to look over:

  • TA6 property information form
  • Planning permission and Building regulation certificates
  • TA10 Fittings & Contents form
  • Land Registry title documents

10. Consider and accept an offer

With whatever offer you receive, you have the option to decline. You can outright refuse, suggest a counteroffer, or simply wait for the right offer to come along.

It’s important to remember that your home is not legally marked as sold until you’ve exchanged written contracts with the new buyer. Once you’ve settled on an offer you’re happy with, you then have to formally accept.

If the paperwork isn’t finalised, then technically neither you, nor the buyer, is officially committed to the sale. However, backing out of an accepted offer is likely to be distressing for both parties and will cause delays.

11. Draft up the sale contract

As with many things in life, it takes two to tango. Drafting up a contract isn’t just down to you — it’s also reliant on the buyer, too. Between yourself and the new owner, you’ll have to decide:

  • What fittings and fixtures will be included in the price
  • How much time should be between the exchange and completion of the contract (usually somewhere between 7–28 days)
  • Whether there’ll be any discounts due to survey finds

12. Exchange contracts

Ready to sign on the dotted line? Once contracts are exchanged the sale then becomes legally binding, so it’s a key milestone when selling your home.

Before signing the contract, it’s crucial that you’re happy with every element, as it can be quite tricky to pull out. Should you decide to back out of the deal without due reason, the buyer’s deposit will need to be returned and they may take legal action.

13. Move out

Once you’re all packed up and ready to go, you can move out at any time — be it on the completion date or before. We recommend moving out earlier, as it’ll reduce stress for both parties and avoid any overlap.

Make sure that the property is in the exact condition agreed upon in the contract, including all the fixtures and fittings. Expect a visit from the buyer and estate agent during this time.

14. Completion

It’s time to exchange the keys and start a new chapter! With the help of your conveyancer or solicitor, the sale is complete once the property changes ownership and you’ve accepted the payment. The money will be transferred, as well as any deeds of the property.

15. Pay your mortgage

Should you have a sum left outstanding on your mortgage, your mortgage provider will let you know. Then, your conveyancing solicitor will arrange for the remaining balance to be paid. For more information on this, visit our mortgage knowledge hub.

16. Pay your legal and agent fees

Finally — you’re ready to settle up! Once you’ve been through everything and handed over the keys, your conveyancing solicitor will send you a final account, covering the sale prices of the house and redemption of the mortgage, as well as all their charges and disbursements.

Your solicitor can also help finalise the purchase of your new home, which will include covering Stamp Duty for the new home you’re buying. Not only this, but they’ll also help make sure that the change of ownership is legally registered with the Land Registry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What fees do you pay when selling a house in the UK?

There are a number of fees to consider before selling, including:

  • EPC: average £100
  • Conveyancing fees: average £600–£900
  • Estate agent fees at 1.42% (£4000 on an averagely priced home)
  • Removals: average £350–£2250 (depending on the amount of transport needed)

What legal documents do I need to sell a house?

Paperwork is possibly the dullest part of the selling process, but it’s also one of the most important.

Before you think of selling, you should have:

  • Proof of identity
  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  • Leasehold documents (if applicable)
  • New build warranty (if applicable)
  • Gas safety certificate (not essential but helpful)
  • Electrical certificate (if wiring has been altered/extended since 2005)
  • FENSA or CERTASS certificate (if you’ve replaced windows)
  • Planning permission and building regulation certificates (if you’ve altered property)
  • Guarantees and warranties for work undertaken (not essential but helpful)

Do I pay tax when I sell my house?

In most cases, you don’t pay tax when you sell your house. Capital Gains Tax usually doesn’t apply to your primary home. However, if you have multiple homes, you will have to choose which home is your primary residence and pay Capital Gains if you sell one of your non-primary residences.

Whether you’re just thinking about selling your home or you’re already in the midst of a sale, we hope you’ve found this guide useful.

Remember, we can help you no matter if you’re planning to port your mortgage through a moving home mortgage, you wish to complete a product transfer with us or you’re looking for a remortgage with a new lender.

If you need more mortgage information, please visit our mortgage hub, where you’ll find more useful guides, such as our moving house checklist, and our blog, where you can read the latest insights into the mortgage market.

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