15 tips for buying, selling and moving house

Property expert Kate Faulkner has been working in the industry for over eight years. She is a TV presenter, consultant to the property industry and runs her own website, Designs On Property. Here she shares her top 15 property tips, whether you are buying, selling or moving house.

Kate Faulkner is the author of Buy, Sell and Move House: Navigate the Property Market without Getting Lost (Which? Essential Guide, £10.99).

15 tips for buying, selling and moving house

If you are buying...

1) Sort your mortgage- Make sure you have your financial arrangements organised before you start to look at properties. Estate agents will take you more seriously if they know you have a 'decision in principle' from your lender. It might also give you the edge over other potential buyers.

2) Wait for a buyer - If you have a home to sell, find a buyer for it before you begin to look for a new home. You'll avoid the disappointment of missing out on great find because someone else has the funds immediately available while yours are still tied up.

3) Get fixed fee legals- Find a solicitor or licensed conveyancer via recommendation. If you choose a solicitor, make sure they're specialist conveyancers and have a good reputation for moving quickly.

4) Offer a fair price - Post the credit crunch, it's possible to find yourself a bargain, but make sure your offer is fair. There are so few properties on the market that you don't want to miss out on a great one by offering too low a price.

5) Keep in touch - Don't disappear on holiday for two weeks without informing all necessary parties. Don't ignore any aspects of letters about the purchase that you don't understand. Raise any queries you have about the purchase immediately.

If you are selling...

6) Pick the right estate agent - Not all estate agents are the same and not all agents sell every type of property, particularly in today's tough market conditions! Make sure the agent you pick has already sold properties similar to yours in your area in the last 6-12 months.

7) How does your property look online? - Buyers increasingly start their search online, and will not view your property if the photos don't match the description! Eg If you've called it a family home, make sure you don't have photos of lots of steps.

8) Check your buyer - On average, one out of three deals falls through after offer stage. Check your buyer has real cash in the bank or has a mortgage agreement in principle before accepting their offer.

9) Choose a no sale, no fee and fixed fee conveyancer - Conveyancing is the legal paperwork to transfer the home to or from your name. Use a recommended solicitor or licensed conveyancer. If you're using a solicitor, make sure they're a specialist conveyancer and have a good reputation for moving quickly.

10) Get it in writing- Although not legally binding, it's a good idea to draw up an agreed note of the arrangement with the buyer. This will record your intentions on matters such as finance and date of completion.

If you are moving house...

11) Have a clear out before you move - Throw away or sell anything you don't need so you don't end up taking a whole lot of junk with you. Clear out the loft, shed and garage, and might consider visiting a car boot sale to sell your goods for cash.

12) Can you really move all your stuff? - Some people try to save money by hiring a van or getting friends to help them shift stuff when moving. Don't kid yourself - check your stuff is insured and get professional help if your home is three or more beds!

13) Pack light - Don't overfill boxes with heavy items - pack heavier pieces at the bottom and lighter items on top. It's worth labelling all boxes with a brief description of their contents and the rooms they will need to be unpacked into.

14) Transferring services - 10 days ahead of your planned move, make sure all utility services, such as water, gas and electricity, are informed that you will be moving. Ask them to arrange to read the meters on your moving day, or take a date stamped digital photograph of the meter reading so you have proof of the reading.

15) Give notice of your details - As soon as you have an approximate idea of when you will be moving, it's worth contacting organisations such as your bank, the DVLA, car insurance provider and so forth, to let them know. Either an email or letter is the most efficient way to do this. Make sure you set up postal redirection with the Post Office too.