I once heard that the whole process of selling, purchasing and actually moving house was third on the list of most stressful events a person can endure, being superseded only by bereavement and divorce! The stress generally comes from feeling out of control due to the various parties involved in a chain: sellers, buyers, agents, conveyancers, mortgage brokers, surveyors etc; not being kept informed and not understanding the process. So, as an experienced conveyancer, I have put together my tips for reducing those stress levels:
1. Reputation, reputation, reputationChoose your estate agent and conveyancer wisely. Now, of course, I would say that(!) but this really is crucial because you will work very closely with these individuals during the course of your sale and purchase and will rely on them to advise you wisely and push your transaction through until the day you actually move. Ask around amongst your friends, work colleagues
and family and choose an estate agent and conveyancer based on other people’s personal experiences and recommendations – that sort of information is invaluable. Agents will often recommend a particular conveyancer or surveyor. Ask why they are recommending them – is it because they work regularly with them and think they are good at their job or is it because they are being paid a “referral fee”! Speak to a few agents and conveyancers before making your final decision and see if you get a “feel” for one or more of them. Ask about the conveyancer’s experience and qualifications, whether you will be dealing with an individual conveyancer or a “team”, are they local or only contactable via telephone or email? It is likely to delay your transaction if you want to change agents or conveyancers halfway through because you realise you made the wrong choice! Don’t make your decision based solely on the fee being charged or the value an agent places on a property – buying a new home is likely to be the most expensive purchase you will make so be conscious of your costs but don’t scrimp on the professionals you instruct who could make a drastic difference to your moving experience.
2. Plan What You CanOne of the problems with selling and buying property is that there is a period of time during the conveyancing process (before contracts are exchanged) where you don’t know, for sure, when you are going to move and this makes planning difficult. My advice is plan so far as you are able to. For example:
- prepare change of address cards to be sent out once you know the date you are moving
- get quotes for removals and decide which company to use. If you have a moving date in mind, check that they are free and get them to “pencil it in” so that you can confirm it once you know the date you are moving
- start packing items you are not likely to need for the next few weeks
- contact utility companies to find out their procedures for changing supplies once a completion date is known.work out your budget and make sure any money you need to give to your conveyancer (such as deposit or balance of purchase price) is in an instant access account so that it can be moved without delay. Allow a contingency in case of unforeseen expenses.
3. Be Flexible You (and your conveyancer and agent) can only move as fast as the slowest person in the chain. Try not to set your heart on a completion date as there are sometimes circumstances beyond your control which make that date impossible. If you don’t have a holiday booked already, try not to book one until your conveyancer has exchanged contracts, in case the completion date you originally envisaged needs to be moved. Even if you and the others in the chain have verbally agreed a date to move, I would always recommend that you don’t make firm bookings in reliance of that date – you don’t want to be charged a cancellation fee if the date changes!
4. Get GoingOnce your conveyancer has exchanged contracts the moving date will be set and all parties become legally obliged to move on that date. This is the time when all those tentative bookings can be confirmed: removals, time off work, utility companies, mail redirection etc.
5. ...And Relax!Allow yourself some down time during the whole process to help take your mind of moving house. Meet with friends for a drink, go to the cinema. Of course, there is a lot to do and organise, but a bit of R&R does wonders to reduce your stress levels!