Can YOU leap the 7 hurdles of trading up?

If you look in any estate agent’s window and pick your dream home, the chances are you’ll select a house that’s bigger, prettier and more expensive than the one you’re in now.

This is because the thinking behind ‘upsizing’ or ‘trading up’ into a bigger home is usually more about fulfilling a dream than meeting a necessity.

Of course, it’s absolutely fine to dream, to aspire to better yourself and your partner/family/cat. But you also need to stay practical and focused, and not get carried away by apple trees in the garden, honey-coloured stone or double bedrooms for all.

So sit at a table with a notebook and a determined frown, and see if you can leap our 7 hurdles of trading up...

TW_Lifestyle_Family with Sales Executive deciding housetype 3

1. Are you serious?

They say you often find the love of your life when you’re not really looking; that isn’t true of houses.

It’s fine to leisurely scan the property pages of your local paper, nudging your partner and saying “isn’t that one lovely?” Just don’t mistake that for house hunting.

Buy your next home like you bought your first one – by listing what you want, settling on what you’ll pay, registering with builders and estate agents, getting alerts from Rightmove, Zoopla etc. Otherwise you’re daydreaming, not shopping.

Also, consider whether all the little niggles about your present home are really building up to “we’ve got to move”?

Clearly, if your new job is 250 miles away, then it’s a no-brainer. An expanding family may also push you into your next move, as indeed would other family obligations like being closer to those that need your help, school considerations etc.

The chances are that, if you’ve already reached this point of considering it, you are serious – but it’s just worth checking before you dive in.


2. Getting the capital

Getting a mortgage pre-approved is an important step, because it sets your limit.

You’ll probably have done all this before, but just to remind you, your new mortgage will depend on your deposit (including surplus from sale of old house), your income(s), the number of people applying, number of dependants, time over which you’ll repay the money, and details like existing financial commitments and loan payments.

Get an Agreement In Principle (AIP) from the right lender to establish your maximum borrowing ability. Is it what you expected? Excellent.


3. Have you included the costs of moving?

Make sure you factor expenses in such as estate agent fees, stamp duty, legal fees and other costs including removals and domestic connections/disconnections.

Then there are the maintenance costs to consider once you’ve traded up. If you buy an older property, will it require a new kitchen, a new bathroom etc soon after moving in? Second-hand homes will also mean bigger energy bills.


4. Selling your current house

You may have taken your current house for granted, even got a bit exasperated by it, but don’t let this show.

Leave it like you love it. Make every little repair, improvement and upgrade you can before you put your current house on the market. Make sure it’s clean, tidy, clutter-free and has plenty of what estate agents call ‘kerb appeal’.

A tatty house can easily knock £10,000 off the selling price, a loss most probably out of all proportion to the amount of work that needs doing.

And if you need help, new-build developers offer initiatives such as Part Exchange and easymover, where they do the selling for you.


5. Do you agree on what you want next?

If you’re on your own, you’ve swerved this particular hurdle. Nice one. If you’re not, then make sure all the adults agree on where you live next. ‘Going along with the idea’ isn’t the same; that’s just a secret disagreement or a disagreement delayed.

Obviously you can’t agree on absolutely everything up to the colour of the prospective new home’s garage door. But on the basics – the size of the mortgage, the type of house, the look of the house, the location, the size of the garden – there has to be a broad agreement.

No one wants to end up a year down the line, sulking about being “stuck out here in this money pit with no friends and no holidays”.


6. Can you coordinate?

This is nothing to do with your dress sense; that may or may not be terrible. Here we’re talking about coordinating the selling of your old house with the buying of the new one.

With two major transactions going on, all the estate agents, mortgage experts, conveyancers and house inspectors need to be working together. Make sure your solicitor/ conveyancer is keeping you fully up to date.


7. Will your new home sell?

It seems odd to think about moving out just as you’re preparing to move in, but nevertheless that’s something that should cross your mind.

Don’t ignore the house rules. You are usually not cleverer than the system, and the system has six key factors that everyone considers: house price, house condition, market condition, and the three locations – location (pretty), location (practical) and location (in demand).

Well done. You have cleared the 7 hurdles of trading up and are now ready, with clear goals and a clear conscience, to clear out of town.