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The Stress of Moving House

07 Aug 2007

Probably the most common complaint made in respect of moving house concerns the stress that the whole process can generate. As we start into another house buying season it is worth looking at where that stress comes from and is there anything can be done to avoid it. The main culprit is the “chain of conveyances” where a number of house sales are all interconnected and inevitably the more houses involved in the chain the more stress it is likely to generate.

A single transaction, purchase or sale is much easier. For example a purchase by a tenant of a HE house is at the bottom of the stress scale, a virtual flatliner from start to finish. By comparison let us look at a chain of say four houses where the first time buyers at the start of the chain are having trouble getting a mortgage and then throw in a developer at the end of the chain who is about to go bankrupt if he doesn’t shift a few houses and your client is now at the top of the scale enduring levels of stress probably only ever recorded in men in combat.

It is not for nothing that moving house gets its listing as one of the three most stressful things you can do. The second is a divorce and the third is sitting in an airport but that might just be me. The fact that two out of these three involve the legal profession is of course just a bizarre coincidence.

The following are a few stress busting tips for the spring house buyer.

1. If you are in a chain prepare for the fact that at some point stress will arrive and recognise it when it comes. If you can rationalise it as part of the process it can be a little more bearable. Lots of other people have experienced the same before you and nearly everyone gets their keys in the end.

2. Stress might appear in a number of guises. It might be the selling agent who keeps ringing up to find out why you are “holding things up” or the nice young couple who are buying your house but take two months to organise a survey. If you are getting lots of calls from an agent but are not sure how to deal with them refer them to your solicitor. The solicitor will have more experience at dealing with agents than you and probably is in a better position to explain any delay that there is.

3. If your problem is getting through to your solicitor try and use e-mail to get into e-mail correspondence with him/her. It is a lot easier for both sides to use and allows the solicitor to reply in circumstances where he hasn’t been able to take a phone call.

4. A lot of stress comes from people feeling they do not understand the process and are not in control of events. An appointment with your solicitor will always get you a lot more information than a phone call. To understand what is going on it is worthwhile making your own appointment and taking a bit of control over events yourself.

5. Some documentation essential to your sale will be in your possession and therefore it is worthwhile putting your own house sellers information pack together. Documents such as ground rent receipts, rates details, copies of planning permission and building control approvals are always going to be asked for sooner or later and are easier to find before everything ends up going into boxes.

6. Jargon can be another cause of stress. It might be that your sale is being held up because of a statutory charges search, an outstanding Road Bond or property certificate. If there are terms being used that you don’t understand then don’t be afraid to ask for them to be explained. Any solicitor worth his fee will be able to do so and will probably be happy to show off that he can.

Finally it is the case that nearly everybody gets moving in the end and with any luck you will too. Despite his failings, and they may be many, your solicitor is probably doing a better job for you than you think although not necessarily as good as job as he himself thinks.