House prices only ever seem to go up – well at least, that’s been the trend over the last half-century (financial crisis excluded). And so it’s already pricey enough to move home. But, of course, the price you pay for the new home you want is only a part of the story: there are a bunch of ancillary costs and considerations that can bump up the overall negative effect on your bank balance.
People have realized this. As a result, they’re looking for ways to cut the so-called “transaction costs” involved in moving house – all those little expenses that soon add up to a big bill overall.
Saving money while moving is fast becoming an imperative. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average wages haven’t risen for at least two decades. People are having to make do with stagnant incomes, with some workers in low-performing industries forced to take pay cuts.
Cutting costs while moving isn’t always easy, but if you can pull it off, you’ll be in a much better financial position when you finally move into your new home.
Tip #1: Don’t Move To Pricey Areas If You Don’t Have To
What pushes up the prices of housing in some areas, but not others? Well, in truth, it’s complicated. But by knowing precisely what you want from a local neighborhood could save you a fair bit of money. House prices can be affected by lots of factors in the surrounding area: the crime rate, the beauty, local amenities, and by who else lives there. Sometimes prices in certain areas can be higher because houses lie in the catchment area of desirable local schools. But if you don’t have kids and don’t intend to in the future, buying in these areas could force you to fork out for an unnecessary premium.
Do you and your partner work from home? If so, then there’s no point living close to the station or transport links – another thing which can push up prices. You’ll be able to get a lot more home for your money if you stick to relatively unconnected areas.
Tip #2: Skip Packaging Costs
Packaging costs on moving day can run into hundreds of dollars. It’s surprising just how much money companies will charge for what are essentially glorified cardboard boxes. But except for tape, you can source practically all of your storage needs for free. Local superstores will often let you have used cardboard boxes. You can also pick up packaging materials off sites like Freecycle, where the idea is for people to reuse things that would ordinarily be considered junk.
Some people save on packaging costs by using their dressers and tables as storage. To make the most of your drawer space, vacuum-pack all of your clothing, so it takes up as little volume as possible, place it in your dresser, and then tape it shut.
Tip #3: Be Flexible
Companies like Altrua Financial advise that people be flexible when first getting into the housing market. Rather than fixate on one particular property because it seems “perfect” or has emotional appeal, top brokers suggest that people take a more pragmatic view as they enter the housing market.
For starters, don’t rush into a property purchase, especially in the current environment. Data shows that the number of new home purchases is falling fast and that builders aren’t able to clear their inventories at the going rate. Data like these suggest that the housing market is ready for a correction: more people are trying to sell homes than are willing to buy them. The effect should be a fall in prices, either this year or next. House prices have been running well above their historical norm for a long time now, meaning that they could come crashing back down to Earth at any moment.
The other reason to be flexible is that it allows buyers to take advantages of opportunities as they arise. You may feel like you’re waiting for a long time to find the house you want, but that gives you “option value.” Waiting gives you more choice and provides the time you need to find a real bargain.
Tip #4: Move Out Of Season
Not only does where you move to make a difference to overall cost but when you move could have an impact too. As in any market, the housing market is seasonal: people buy houses more at certain times of the year than at others.
One of the most popular times of year is the end of the summer, as the children return to school. Parents often want to be in their new home before that start of the fall term, making August and September popular months. House prices might be slightly higher at this time of year, and removal prices, much higher, thanks to increased demand.
If you are planning a move, try to do it outside of peak season. You’ll get lower rates on most ancillary services, and you may pay less overall for your new property, depending on whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market.
Tip #5: Pack The Easy Stuff Yourself
Removal services can cost a lot of money. The price of hiring a removal van can run into the thousands of dollars, and removal services will charge based on the amount of stuff you want them to transport. The longer it takes them to load the truck, the more you’ll pay.
Many savvy property buyers take a hybrid approach. They use removal services for what they’re good at: safely transporting large and delicate items, and then transport the rest themselves in their car. You don’t need professional removal services to take your clothing from A to B, but you probably do need them for your grand piano.
Try not to skimp on removal services altogether, especially if you have a lot of large, valuable items. Professional removal services live and die on their ability to take your stuff to your new home without damaging it. The last thing they want is for you to settle into your new home with a broken sofa or scratched dresser.
Tip #6: Don’t Move Trash
Moving home is a great time for you and your family to take stock of what you need and what you don’t. There’s no point in taking junk from your current abode to your new one: it’ll just take up space and ultimately wind up costing you money. If you’re downsizing, it could also create space issues at the other end.
Use your move an opportunity to rid your home of all the trash you don’t need. Old school papers, mountains of plastic bags, old furniture, books, and DVDs are all unnecessary. You don’t need them.
Tip #7: Label Boxes
Moving costs money – we know this – but it also requires time too. Moving stuff from one property to another can often take a couple of days, even with the help of professionals. Unpacking and putting everything where it needs to go can take days more, adding to the total time you spend on the move.
Ideally, you’d like moving to take as little time as possible. Although there are no ways to eliminate time costs completely, labeling boxes can help reduce the amount of time you spend working out what goes where. The best way to label boxes is to do it by room: kitchen, bedroom, bathroom. Labeling by room helps you instruct removal people where to put your stuff when you arrive at your new home. It also enables you to avoid endlessly tearing open boxes, looking at what’s inside, before moving them to the right part of the house.
Tip #8: Defrost Your Fridge-Freezer
Suffice to say, removal specialists don’t like to transport leaky fridge-freezers. It leaks over their trucks and could cause damage to your other property. Instead of leaving it until the day to defrost your freezer, turn the unit off 24 hours in advance. Turning the freezer off will cause any ice buildup to drain out. Put a towel on the floor if your fridge-freezer isn’t self-draining.
Tip #9: Host A Garage Sale
Remember earlier we talked about getting rid of all your junk before you move? Well, one of the ways to get rid of it profitably is to sell it. Unless you’ve got a lot of really nice stuff, you probably won’t make a killing. But passing unwanted items onto others for money is a heck of a lot better for your bank balance than hiring a skip and sending it all to the trash heap.
Tip #10: Look For Fixer-Uppers
People want convenience, and so perfectly refurbished houses tend to sell at a substantial premium. Don’t want to pay extra for virtually the same house? Buy a “fixer-upper” – a house that has plenty of cosmetic issues, but nothing structural. Homes like these can usually be pulled around for a fraction of the market premium, helping you save money in the long term. Just make sure to get a surveyor to take a look at the property before you buy.