We’ve all heard about the survey that says moving house comes in the top 10 list of the most stressful things you can do. Apparently it’s third in the list, after death of a family member and divorce. But why is the process of putting a property on the market and then moving out of one home into another more stressful than illness, job loss or having a baby? And how can we avoid most of the stress?
Moving home disrupts your normal routine, no doubt about it. And the disruption that it causes can cause levels of stress that can ruin what, for most people can be a positive change. If you’ve got a property to sell, there are more considerations than if you are moving out of rented accommodation. There’s a good chance that there are loads of little jobs that you’ve been meaning to do that you haven’t quite got round to doing in the past few years and months: life gets in the way and you get used to living with these things.
So what are the main parts of the process and how can we avoid the stress that accompanies them?
Preparing Your Property for Sale
- Make a list. Go around your house with a pad and paper (or an iPad if that’s easier) and make a list of the things that you need to do. If you use an iPad you can take wee pictures of the jobs that need to be done as well. Then make notes about who is going to do those little (or large) jobs and when.
- Be realistic with your timescales. If you want your property looking spick and span for sale, these jobs might take a while. If you, or your estate agent, think that it will make a significant difference to the price though, it’s probably worth it so give yourself enough time to get these things done.
- Get some storage sorted-out. That might be in a friend or family member’s garage or it could be in a professional storage facility. It makes getting rid of clutter much easier if you aren’t simply moving it from room to room though!
Marketing Your Property for Sale
- Get a few agents out. Deciding to put your home up for sale was probably a stressful decision in its own right. For some people it occurs because of another stressful experience: a new baby, downsizing, separation or job loss. It’s sensible to get a few agents out to value the property so that you can make a reasonable comparison between them on cost, valuation and service offering, but don’t get so many out that you forget what they all do and who you liked! Three or four is usually a good number.
- Be clear about moving costs. Make sure you remove any unnecessary surprises later on in the process by understanding exactly what your agent will and will not do for you and how much it’s going to cost. An unexpected bill at a later date will add a whole new level of stress if your budget was quite tight to begin with. Read through any terms and conditions or contracts thoroughly and ask any questions before you sign.
- Realistic expectations help. Realistic expectations will help make the process more relaxed. Listen to your agent’s advice: they’re the expert. You might be incredibly lucky and sell within 3 days and you might end-up with multiple offers over the Home Report value. Or you may not. Either way, be patient: the average selling time in Scotland is around three months and sometimes getting the best price and finding that right buyer just takes a bit of time.
- View when children are out. Viewings can also be stressful times, especially if you have children. In some parts of the country, Open Viewings are commonplace and these take place at times when children are most likely to be in the house or being put down for bed (e.g. 2-4pm on a Sunday or 7-9pm on a Thursday). Consider whether it’s possible to arrange your viewings at a time when children are out? For other ideas about how to make the process less stressful for children see our Top Five Tips for Selling Your Home When You Have Children at: at: http://www.mov8realestate.com/blog/item/154-selling-your-home-when-you-have-children-five-top-tips.html
- Control pets. Pets can be a distraction during viewings. Not everyone loves having a dog jumping up on them or following them around the property and some people are actively nervous around animals. You want the viewer to remember your property, not your pet so, if it’s possible, keep pets out of the way during viewings.
- Consider a Viewing Agent. Many estate agents offer this as part of the service. In some parts of the country, however, it’s most common for owners to do their own viewings: it’s one of the reasons estate agency fees vary widely by geographic area. It’s never easy to hear someone question your taste or to make negative comments about your own home. I once did a viewing of my own home and someone walked in and described the whitewashed walls that I loved as being ‘like walking into an asylum’…so I honestly know the feeling! An estate agent won’t react from emotion in these kinds of circumstances and will help to ascertain whether that viewer’s objection can easily be overcome by offering, for example, simply to paint a room to their tastes. They can have a franker conversation with a potential buyer, they are more likely to hear, and therefore be able to overcome, objections that the buyer has to submitting an offer and they are therefore more likely to be able to encourage an offer from a potential buyer.
- Relax! Try not to pin too many hopes on every viewer that walks through the door and you’ll avoid disappointment if they don’t make an offer.
- Try to Trust. This is a stressful time, there’s no denying it. It suddenly feels very real now. What happens if the sale falls through? What if we don’t find anywhere that we like the look of to buy? There are no easy answers to those questions, of course, but you can trust that the lawyers know what they are doing and will be in touch if there’s a problem. Try to remember that no news is usually good news.
- Consider renting. Consider renting for a short while after moving, so that you have time to find the perfect property. Don’t put pressure on yourself to find the perfect property in the short few weeks that you have between accepting an offer and handing over your keys. Purchasing a property is a massive decision, not one to be rushed because of time pressure.
- Be a good Cub Scout. Be prepared and start preparing in plenty of time! Getting packed for a move will usually take longer than you think!
- Use our Preparing to Move Checklist to keep yourself organised and to give you some peace-of-mind that you haven’t overlooked anything! Click here!
Preparing for the Move
- Treat packing as an opportunity to declutter your life. Nobody likes packing (usually not even for a holiday!) but this is a great opportunity to declutter and organise your possessions. Try to be ruthless and unsentimental but don’t feel like you have to throw everything away and start again! Go through one room at a time, taking your time, detailing what goes into the boxes and labelling the boxes in bold letters. This way you’ll find unpacking at the other end a whole lot easier.
- Get the essentials handy. Pack a box of essentials and clearly label it as such. You might want: coffee, tea, snacks, cups, glasses, juice and a kettle for when you arrive. Plates, kitchen utensils, toilet roll, antibacterial spray and a kitchen cloth will also be welcome. You might also want to have a powerful torch, a first-aid kit, a pencil and paper, a small tool kit and, of course, your phone charger!
- Have your PJs handy and don’t forget your toothbrush! Prepare an overnight bag for everyone.
Moving Day – The Essentials You Need to Know
The day has finally arrived! Now is the day where you will need to take a deep breath and be patient more than ever. Settlement days, as they are called, most often happen on a Friday and, because they’re all on one day of the week, and such massives sums of money are involved, they can be quite fraught for the solicitors involved in the process too!
- If you are a seller, you will have to wait for your solicitor to confirm that they have been paid the purchase price AND that they have received all the necessary paperwork from the purchaser’s solicitor.
- If you are a purchaser, you will need to wait until your solicitor confirms that they have received all of the necessary paperwork from the seller’s solicitor.
- In this day and age of buyers and sellers regularly having each other’s mobile phone numbers, try not to read too much into what the other party is telling you: miscommunication can happen so easily on move-in day, with one side blaming the other for the delay, and everyone gets very stressed-out.
- If you’re a buyer, don’t turn up at the seller’s solicitor/estate agent’s office and demand the keys! They need authorisation from the seller’s legal team that they can release keys and this tends to happen a little while after the purchaser’s solicitor has done everything that they need to do. Call the seller’s agent before you arrive at their offices.
- Be prepared, as a seller, that you might need to unload the removal van. Problems can occur at the buyer’s end with funds being delayed, clerical errors by their mortgage lender or last-minute complications in the legal process in spite of everyone’s best efforts. It’s far more pleasant to wait-it out, sitting on your own sofa with a cup of tea rather than cross-legged on the floor. Obviously this isn’t always possible but it’s something to bear in mind: forewarned is forearmed!
- To remove stress for animals and children arrange for them to be with friends or family.
- Give yourself short, regular breaks. The day will be emotional as well as hectic and long. You’re saying goodbye to many memories. By giving yourself a chance to get your breath back for a few minutes you’ll feel revitalised and able to continue with the process. Some people find it helps to say goodbye to each room individually: when the room is empty take a few moments to think about things that happened in it before moving on to the next.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you’re stuck in a traffic jam or something breaks you can’t do very much about it, so try not to let it get to you.
All Moved In
- Get back in the swing of things. After you’ve arrived at the new house and unpacked, try to get back into your normal routine as quickly as possible, especially if you have children or pets. Eat and go to bed at the same time you always do.
- Get a good night’s sleep. If you are unable to unpack everything the same day, make sure you have your sleepwear and bedding to hand. A good night’s sleep will freshen you up for Round Two tomorrow. If your new property doesn’t have curtains or you haven’t had time to put them up, take black bin liners with you and use masking tape to attach them to the windows so that you don’t wake up at 5am the next day!
- Treat yourself when the whole move is finished. Hopefully some of these tips will help to minimise the stress of moving, but congratulate yourself on your big move and your new home with a massage, dinner out or a catch-up with friends and family.