How getting organised can help you to take the stress out of buying or selling a house
Stress and moving house go hand-in-hand — you can’t have one without the other. But does it really have to be that way?
The Government is asking estate agents, lawyers and mortgage firms how they can make moving home more straightforward and less stressful.
Currently, purchasers can withdraw from deals with no notice, sellers can accept higher offers that ‘gazump’ a previously agreed price and leave the original buyers in the lurch, while surveys and mortgage agreements are conducted late in the buying process, so can lead to more pull-outs.
Buying company Quick Move Now says 28 per cent of sales fall through, and an analysis of 54,000 transactions by valuation service The ValPal Network shows that on average it takes a whopping 201 days between an owner considering to sell and finally moving.
Gazumping is on the rise and hits more than five per cent of house sales in some parts of the UK, according to Countrywide estate agency group.
‘Our biggest concern is the lack of certainty,’ says Paula Higgins, chief executive of consumer group the HomeOwners’ Alliance.
‘Buyers don’t mind how long it takes to move — they just want to know it is going to happen.’
Even estate agents agree there’s much room for improvement in England and Wales.
‘The Scottish model, where once a deal is agreed it’s legally binding, could be employed,’ says John Ennis, of Foxtons.
‘In England and Wales, it’s not legally binding until the exchange of contracts.’
In the US, too, a buyer’s offer on a home becomes a binding contract once accepted.
In Denmark, the estate agent provides a survey on a home going on the market, but the purchaser pays one per cent of the sale price if he changes his mind late in the process.
In Australia, just two per cent of sales fall through in those states with ‘vendor disclosure’, where the seller provides a pack of survey and search information to would-be buyers.
But even with the clunky system in England and Wales, there’s more that we can all do to reduce stress.
Get sorted:The better prepared you are before submitting an offer, the less time there will be for a rival purchaser to gazump you.
Don’t wait until you have found a home to buy before appointing a solicitor, securing a mortgage offer in principle and instructing an agent to sell your old place.
Pick a reliable estate agent:Sales progression is the phrase agents use when chasing buyers to make sure they keep on track.
Old-school agents based in High Street offices do this because they don’t get paid if a home doesn’t sell, but that’s not always the case with companies operating only on the internet.
Create a log book: ‘Put together a log book containing running costs, certifications and planning permission for work carried out, and surveys and guarantees,’ says James Greenwood, of Stacks Property Search.
‘Some of this will be required by the buyer’s solicitor; other bits can reassure a buyer and improve the chances of a sale progressing.’
Use a mortgage broker:‘A trusted broker has a personal relationship with the banks’ underwriters and can make the process simpler,’ says Simon Tollit, of Tedworth Property estate agency.
‘If you don’t have your finances in order, a vendor is far less likely to take you seriously as a credible buyer.’
Consider a lock-out: This is a binding agreement where the seller takes a home off the market for a fixed period.
Both buyer and seller agree to forfeit a few thousand pounds if either backs out without good reason.
‘A buyer may go through this to give themselves time to undertake all the legal work,’ says Tollit.
‘The buyer can’t be gazumped and the seller knows he has some security if the purchaser withdraws.’
Anyone who’s ever undertaken a house move will agree it’s one of the most challenging life events, both physically and emotionally, that anyone can go through.
In a recent poll, two thirds of people voted moving house top of their stress list, with it triggering more anxiety than relationship breakdowns, divorce and starting a new job.
“It’s one of life’s most stressful experiences, and it’s because it involves having to cope with change,” explains Nicky Lidbetter, chief executive of charity Anxiety UK. “Moving house represents a transition in life, it’s about change and unfamiliarity and for many people that causes stress and anxiety. Most of us like familiarity, routine and order. When you’re moving, you have none of those. Plus it causes a ripple effect of change throughout your life. You’re not just changing your home and getting to know the new one, you might be in a new area, you have to find new schools for your children, take on a new commute to work, find a new GP and dentist.”
She says that if you feel stressed or anxious, that’s perfectly normal. “It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s an understandable reaction,” says Ms Lidbetter. “The lack of order, the uncertainty and upheaval that surrounds a move can trigger underlying mental health conditions such as anxiety, OCD and depression.”
“Take time off work and get someone to mind your children”
Dr Sandi Mann, senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, agrees. “Moving house can be a very overwhelming experience,” she says. “It’s a massive upheaval, and we are inherently territorial creatures who like familiarity and routine, so it creates a lot of uncertainty and chaos in our lives.”
Moving can put a particular strain on families and relationships – the latter of which is the focus of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 16-22 May. TV personality Trisha Goddard, a family resolution and mental health activist, knows the stresses all too well. “Not only have I moved house with little ones, I’ve also moved from one continent to another,” she says. “Parents always feel guilt at moving kids from their friends and home – but one thing you cannot afford to do is ignore the potential impact moving will have on you.”
Ms Lidbetter of Anxiety UK advises giving yourself as much time as possible to deal with the move. “If you can, clear your schedule around the time of a move,” she says. “Take time off work and get someone to mind your children, so you are not spreading yourself too thin.”
Preparation can also help in managing stress levels. “If you can do things in advance, for example, switch your broadband to the new address, register with a new GP in the area, plan in advance what furniture and items will go in what rooms… all of that will help the actual day feel a bit less overwhelming and more controlled.”
As hard as it might feel at the time, try to focus on the positives of what you’re doing. “Embrace the change instead of focusing on the difficulty of a move,” says Ms Lidbetter.
“Although there might be a lot to do, taking an occasional break is key”
Dr Mann advises remembering why you made the decision. “Perhaps you’re moving to a bigger house, or to a beautiful area, nearer friends and family,” she says. “Remind yourself why it will be worth all the effort you are putting in.”
During a stressful time, both Ms Lidbetter and Dr Mann agree that looking after yourself is key. “Get enough sleep and eat well. Don’t be too busy to look after yourself,” says Ms Lidbetter. And although there might be a lot to do, try and take an occasional break, too. “Respite is essential,” says Dr Mann. “Whether that’s going for a walk, a trip to the cinema, meeting up with a friend… it doesn’t matter what you do as long as it doesn’t have anything to do with your house move. Your mind and body need a break.”
Some simple breathing exercises can help you feel calmer, says Dr Mann. “Find a quiet corner, and sit, stand or lie down. Breathe in deeply through your nose for a count of five, then slowly exhale for five. Do this for up to five minutes, clearing your mind and focusing on feeling calm and revived.”
Anxiety UK advocates using mindfulness techniques to help deal with stress and anxiety. “Download the Headspace mindfulness app and just ten minutes a day, away from the move, can be beneficial,” says Nicky Lidbetter.
However, she says if you start to experience symptoms such as mood swings, a racing heart and sweaty palms, and an inability to concentrate, these are signs that you may need to seek professional help to deal with your stress and anxiety levels perhaps by seeing a psychologist or a counsellor.
The important thing to remember is that it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. “Moving is listed as a major life stressor for a good reason,” says Ms Goddard. “Be kind to yourself and realise that sleepless nights and worry before and after a move are normal. Accept all help offered: it’s not a slight on your organising capabilities. And if folk offer to help, give them something concrete to do; a proper task that you can cross off your list. And if people are slow to offer help, damned well ask for it.”
Recently we undertook a house clearance in Mansfield
If you are looking for a company to help with a house clearance in the Mansfield area then we at New Start Removals and our friendly team can help, working with you at a time that is convenient to you.
We will work on complete house clearances for landlords, letting agents or individual homeowners.
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Label your boxes – We suggest each box is clearly labelled using a marker pen with the name of the room where it should go in your new property. This will enable us to place your boxes in the appropriate room when unloading, and will avoid having to open boxes to find out what they contain. It will also ensure you do not have to carry boxes around after we have finished. Any delicate or valuable item should be carefully wrapped with bubble wrap or tissue and put into a box labelled as fragile.
Box everything – It is a good idea to pack everything you possibly can into boxes. It is much more secure and easier to move a box than to try to carry several bags of small items whose contents could spill out.
Use sturdy, uniform sized boxes – It is much easier to stack boxes of uniform size, which maximises the load capacity of our lorries or your car or van. Please do not use boxes from your local supermarket as they are not built to carry your treasured possessions! Better to use sturdy boxes made for the purpose.
Don’t overfill boxes – Please ensure your boxes are not overfilled – remember they have to be lifted and carried! Overfilled boxes are more susceptible to break under the strain.
Don’t under fill boxes – Partially filled boxes may collapse if heavy items are placed on top of them. Try to distribute your possessions evenly in the available boxes.
Ensure you have plenty of packing material – It is essential that you have plenty of paper, bubble wrap, tissue, marker pens and adhesive tape.
Beware of newsprint – When packing your valuable and fragile possessions please remember that newsprint will rub off. Use plain paper where this may be a problem. Your ornaments, glassware and other delicate items can first be wrapped in kitchen roll before using newspaper.
Utilise luggage space – Don’t leave your suitcases empty, this is an ideal space to pack your clothing.
Moving Day – Loading
Your removals team arrives – We will introduce ourselves and go through the order that we will be loading our vehicles. Please highlight any particular issues to us at this point.
Relax – This is where your thorough preparation will pay off, and our experienced team can begin loading your belongings carefully onto the removals vehicles.
Final checks – When you think that everything has been moved out, please take a walk around with your Removals supervisor to ensure that all items to be moved have been loaded onto our vehicles. It is your responsibility to make sure that nothing is left behind.
Moving Day – Unloading
Tour your new property – On arrival at your new property please walk around with your supervisor to advise him of the room layout and where certain items should go.
Directing traffic – It can be helpful to position someone at the main entrance to direct your removals team to the appropriate rooms in your new property. You are familiar with your furniture and box labelling so it would be very helpful to assist us at this stage to ensure things are placed in the correct location.
Final checks – A final check of the removals vehicles to ensure everything has been unloaded and you are now ready to start unpacking your belongings in your new property