Image courtesy of Alamy.

There’s lots to trip you up when you’re selling and moving to a new home. Here are some key things to consider for a smooth move.

1. The pre-settlement inspection can be shocking.

Especially if the house was professionally staged and you see it with no furniture, patchy walls and picture-hook holes – or rubbish in the backyard! “The seller is simply required to get their stuff out and not damage the place,” says property lawyer Katie Richards from Virtual Legal. “Some contracts include provisions that if something is damaged, the seller has to rectify any issues. You might retain a small portion of funds on settlement if the seller didn’t have enough time to fix it. If a seller leaves things, they become the property of the buyer. And if they leave rubbish and you need to hire a skip, you could then invoice the seller for the cost of removal.”

2. Check over the details with your lawyer.

Mistakes can cost you! Your property lawyer should make sure everything is in order on the contract and the settlement cheques. “If you have a typo on a cheque or a slightly different amount than what you’re meant to have, it can delay settlement, which can delay your move,” says Katie. “In some states, if the other person was ready, willing and able to settle and you delay, they can terminate and sue you for damages, so there is a risk to it.”

3. You don’t need to be there for settlement.

It’s something agents can handle, as long as you’ve handed over the cheque. “Settlement takes minutes,” says Katie. “Then a call is made to the lawyers and the agent to say settlement has occurred, the deposit is released and the agent can hand over the keys to the buyer.”

4. Simultaneous transactions are trickier.

But if you can’t avoid selling and purchasing on the same day, have someone in place who knows what they’re doing, says Katie. “Arranging to have the funds from your sale flow through to your purchase can be a bit stressful, as is trying to get the different sellers on either side and everyone to meet up for the right settlement. Also, with simultaneous transactions, the second contract has to be subject to the sale of the first contract, and sometimes people forget to do that, so you can have a situation where they’ve moved out of their house but can’t move into the new property for a few days, so they have to put stuff into storage and stay in a hotel.”

5. Get insurance before settlement.

“Although it depends on which state you’re in, you may need insurance if the risk of the contract passes to the buyer the day after the contract date,” says Katie. “You can generally get a cover note from an insurance company a couple of weeks before settlement and in the worst-case scenario, like if something horrible happened to the seller and you still wanted to proceed with the property, you would be covered.”

6. Organise removalists at least 4-6 weeks before moving.

If there’s a gap between moving out and taking possession of your new home, check if the removalists can store your belongings in the interim. Also, get removalist recommendations from friends and family to avoid shonky operators, says Ali Vildos from Aunty Ali Rescue (0416 120 434), a home service that offers everything from decluttering to moving help. “You want someone who’ll care for your belongings and go the extra mile on the day, such as assembling beds and connecting appliances. Thursdays and Fridays are particularly busy days for removalists, as are the weeks leading up to Christmas.”

7. Get your inventory right.

“If you have a home library, tell your removalists – you may need a bigger truck. If you have a wine collection that needs special care, let them know. The job may take hours longer if you underestimate it,” says Ali.

8. Declutter and save!

“Removalists get paid for how much they move, so less to move equals savings for you,” says Ali. “Start early, start small and focus on culling the easy stuff – if you last used your tent 10 years ago and you only use your popcorn maker bi-annually, you won’t miss these things if they’re gone.”

9. Pack several weeks in advance.

And start with rarely-used items first, says Ali. “Label boxes for the room they’re going to in the new house or where the contents have come from, like ‘second drawer of filing cabinet’. It makes it much easier when your mind can visualise where things used to be. Don’t forget to tape loose parts like screws and bolts from furniture in plastic bags to the furniture they belong to, or put them in a spare parts box.” If you can’t face packing and have the budget for professional packers, they can usually knock it over in a day.

10. Do a clean yourself.

“Buyers do expect a professional clean but if you’ve gone through the open-house process, your home is probably pretty clean anyway,” says Ali. “You might have to scrub marks off the walls with sugar soap once the furniture is gone. If possible, ask the owners of the property you’ve bought if they’re getting in a cleaner so you don’t double up.”

111. Don’t forget utilities.

Energy Australia suggests getting in touch at least four days before moving to ensure your new home will have electricity and gas on when you get there. Do the same with your water, phone, internet and pay TV. “It’s a good time to hunt out a new deal on utilities, too,” says Ali.

12. Book a locksmith and handyman prior to moving.

It’s worth getting any repairs out of the way as soon as you arrive at the new house – and having new keys will provide peace of mind, says Ali. “Some locksmiths will even re-key your locks rather than replace all the expensive hardware, which is a much cheaper and faster alternative.”

13. Leave a list of helpful info for the new owners.

“Include a welcoming note with things like bin night, instruction manuals for the oven, names of neighbours and your favourite takeaway,” says Ali. “And don’t forget your details and new address so they can forward any mail that slips through.”

14. Be organised on moving day.

“Farm the kids and pets out overnight if you can swing it,” says Ali. “Reserve parking for the removalists, make sure you have a toolkit with Allen keys, screwdrivers and a Stanley knife. Load up a washing basket with key items, including extension leads, powerboards, snacks and a small first-aid kit.”

Need more advice on moving? Check out these tips:

>> how to avoid moving day disasters: expert shares her tips
>> 21 ways to make moving houses so much easier

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