Kirsty McLuckie: Moved to tears - the rise in removal costs

The costs involved in home ownership are going up. Not only have average values increased this year, but mortgage rates are also on the move upwards, as are utility prices.

Picture: Shutterstock
Picture: Shutterstock

These are three key areas that most homeowners are aware of, and many of us are taking steps now to get the best deals.

But for those moving house, there are other areas where costs can differ hugely, which may not be at the forefront of our list when it comes to ways of saving money.

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Removal costs – like everything else – have seen a rise, with Brits now spending an average of £748 each time they move house on top of agency fees, legal fees and stamp duty, according to research by advice website Moveable.

With the average Brit moving home five and a half times over the course of their life, the total moving costs per UK individual, according to the research, equates to £4,116 –some 12 per cent up on 2020’s figure.

After the agony of deciding what you can afford to offer for a new property, coupled with the hours of research and paperwork into financing the deal, it is understandable that shopping around for the best price for a removal service might not seem so important – particularly when we are dealing with the most expensive purchase many of us will ever make.

Which perhaps explains Moveable’s estimate that a fifth of UK house movers in the last year did not shop around, instead going with the easiest option – regardless of the price. The survey also found that13 per cent of movers failed to budget for these extra fees, leading them to have to borrow money to cover the costs.

The best way to save on removal costs is to book as far in advance as possible. This can be tricky, especially with conveyancing times being difficult to predict and last-minute hold-ups not out of the question, but if you can lock in your movers weeks or even months in advance of your flit, you are likely to get a better deal.

Rates for removals also differ throughout the year, with a rush in the summer months. So, if you want your pick of removal firms and you can be flexible, then choosing to make your move in the depths of winter will be cheapest option.

The day of the week also makes a difference, with many people opting to get the keys for their new home on a Friday, giving them the weekend to settle in. In comparison, Mondays are relatively unpopular, so you may be able to negotiate a better deal for the start of the week.

Sunday is by far the cheapest day to hire a removal company, but obviously that is only possible if you can overlap having the keys to your new home at the same time as your old one – because solicitors and estate agents are highly unlikely to be available for the sign-over at the weekend.

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Moveable advises people to shop around – you don’t want to be paying for a top-notch packing and moving service if a man with a van will do.

But the best advice is to carry out a brutal decluttering before moving. Bear in mind William Morris’ maxim: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”, and apply it vigorously to any threadbare tat that might be heading for your new home.

- Kirsty McLuckie is property editor at The Scotsman