223 - Moving House

During 2017 we have sold two houses and bought one.  I look here at the additional costs attached to the process of moving.

These are:

Estate Agency


Stamp Duty


Estate Agency. This used to be priced between 1 and 2% of the house value, back in the 1970s. Current prices are in a similar region, but you are more likely to find a fixed price offer. Some agents undertake to do everything (as much as they can) for you, which might include you vacating the house when a viewing occurs, which we experienced with one house in Blackpool. it moves any conversation to a different place than when being shown around by the proud owner. Most services will include the provision of a photographer, but you might do that yourself (but probably not so effectively.

At the lower extreme, short of doing the sale yourself, ‘privately’, is an internet service. One such is Emoov, which we tried. For a fixed price of nominally £750 one has, as far as I can tell, a complete service. There is no high street office, so there are economies of scale in the telephone support, and I am struck that this is a good use of a call centre. Services such as photographer and valuer are contracted out; conveyancing is an add-on to those on a preferred list. We picked our house sale price, not seeing any need for a valuation; the photographer came, did enough measurement to sketch a house plan (actually a 3-d version); the details were written by ourselves. Nothing hard about that. Once the content and vendor have been vetted it is uploaded to zoopla and rightmove. The possible vendees (buyers) see what they like and ring the agent – only to be themselves vetted as ‘proper’. Subsequent viewings can be done online or via the phone. There is no reason why a buyer would notice that this agent is different. The whole package is less appropriate to vendors not in residence, but viewings are messaged to your email gadgets and you can defer, deny or accept appointments. We have had 5 viewings in 24 hours, three of whom have arranged a second visit, one of those has already made offers. Magic.


This too is improving as a service due to the availability of information. Now that the majority of houses are on the register, the searches can be done from a desk without even needing the phone, nor even needing working hours to be kept. The handling of the paperwork continues to require people, especially the missing pieces of paper, the finicky details that have to be picked over. We could easily fall into patterns in the near future where it becomes financially well worth being very tidy over paperwork so that even more of the process can be automated, implying a sort of pre-sale service (“Please check my paperwork and tell me I can take it to the office, as I do with my visa renewals”) and a virtually automated exchange/completion process, probably also quicker. As it is, the processes that ensure that completion still takes 4-6 weeks are not obvious, but mostly because the conveyancer is usually one minor minion in an office of self-important lawyers – and none of them see a need to make the system go faster. Those who think that way will be caught out.

Costs? Between £500 and £1000 per transaction, ignoring Stamp Duty. Fundamentally this is a prediction of the office time involved in the work, so if the business offers a fixed price based on an estimate of the hours required, they are open to abuse. In turn, that may mean that repeat customers might be offered an adjusted quote. I have been pleasantly surprised that this is no more expensive than 20-30 years ago, when the lawyering side could be relied upon to match or exceed the estate agent fees, at the 1-2% mark. I remember being told to ring the agent every day to push things along, but not to do the same to the solicitor, because I’d be charged for each minute of call.

Stamp Duty

I suggest you look this up. At the time of writing, the rates are, with second and subsequent property tax an additional 3%,

                                    Up to Dec 2014                At June 2017

under £125,000            no duty                          no duty

£125000  to 250,000    1% of value                      2% 

£250,000 to 500,000      3%                                  5%

£500,000 to 925,000                                             5%

£925,000 to £1.5M                                                8%

more still                                                               12%

Different rules apply in Scotland.  See the HMRC website. HMRC offer a calculator. The calculators I visited disagree what the position is, so if you have a property and are liable for SDLT, go to the HMRC calculator.  I read recently that this tax reaped £11 billion in the year 2015-6. You can read the statistics for yourself here.

If you own a second property, as we did by buying and selling outside a chain, you pay the extra 3% but can claim it back if you return to one property inside two years. Except that I have not succeeded in getting my money back within three months. Correction; refund received, the week after writing this.


If you have masses to move, use Pickfords, If you are moving to/from overseas, choose carefully and be aware (other essays) that what you experience in the UK will not be matched by what service you receive elsewhere. Indeed, you might revise your plans for what it is that you move. There is a validity to the suggestion that we have become too acquisitive.

Costs amount to four constituents: packing, loading, travel, unloading. If overseas, you can add paperwork and customs (in the border-crossing sense). Again see earlier, Essay 15, Essay 05. Also the same addresses with/without the www. prefix.

Packing can be done by ‘them’, in which case (i) you pay for this and (ii) they take responsibility but (iii) you’re going to buy the insurance anyway.

Loading and unloading may be the same team, in which case they are in the travel crew and you’re paying for that. It is quite likely they are not, and cheaper. I note that these are quite different skills. Particularly, observe that the driver tends to also be the van-packer, presumably ion the grounds that he is the one responsible for his load. I notice the several young men being a little presumptive of their continued good health. No women seen doing this.

The transport element is what you think you have paid for, but from the logistic point of view, that is the straightforward part. There may be a storage element if the travel is long.

My last move was priced at the same as the estate agent, most of £2000. My next move will be far cheaper because I have used self-storage to park the stuff I can’t lift on my own, £500-£800, of which about £300 is the cost of moving that gear to the new house. The rest I can lift and move myself, which will be one or perhaps two trips in a Luton van I can hire for a weekend. So I expect to be well within the previous move’s cost (about £3000, since we did it in several chunks and two major events) and to have moved twice as much in total.

Other Costs

Um. There must be some, aside form the nominal value of disruption, lost utility value and so on. Breakages, losses (I mean things that get lost and stay lost). On the upside, you might run a de-cluttering exercise (recommended) in advance of (and after) the move.

DSJ 20170608

the election !

top pic: the house we sold in June.

© David Scoins 2017