Anyone who’s ever moved house knows how stressful it can be. Some people move house only a few times in their lives. Some enjoy the challenge and move as often as it pleases them. Some have to move as part of their plans; for instance buying a project house that needs renovating, then sell it on to buy a bigger project, and so on – usually the aim is to end up with their own dream home with no mortgage. Whichever path you’re on, bear in mind that the challenges of moving can bring a lot of stress and anxiety to your lives.
Here I’m going to talk about buying and selling your house, as I have never experienced renting.
Take advice on which conveyancer to use. Most estate agents will recommend good conveyancers, it wouldn’t help their business if they recommended a bad one. A bad one can be almost worse than useless, but a good one can make it seem very easy. Most conveyancers are also solicitors. If you have a good solicitor they will be able to offer advice if they don’t do conveyancing themselves.
Of course, there could always be a problem with the conveyancing. Perhaps the house and land you’re buying has more than one title deed. Perhaps it’s an old house which has been in one person’s ownership for so long that there are only paper title deeds or indeed those papers may be missing. Listed buildings may have much more paperwork involved and your solicitor will know what has to be done.
Giving the solicitor all the information you have and asking for a fixed quote is the best way forward. The fixed quote will not include costs which the solicitor has to pay on your behalf, such as copies of deeds, searches, or bank charges. Find out what isn’t included at the beginning. Don’t forget that VAT will be added to the quoted price and some of the other costs. The conveyancing costs can usually be paid directly or deducted from the sale of your current home. Remember that buying a house and selling a house are two separate quotes. If you’re not a first time buyer, you’ll probably be doing both at the same time.
Now, the stress of paperwork should mostly be borne by your solicitor, however, not all. Paperwork and forms will need to be read in detail, checked, completed and signed. It’s easy to look at the stack of paper and think: ‘That’ll take me hours. I’ll do it tomorrow.’ Take my advice, don’t delay. When you get the pack, make a cup of tea or coffee, sit down and start reading. At the latest, do it Friday evening after work, even if it means staying in when you would usually go out. Otherwise, before you know it, it’s Sunday evening and, oops, you accidentally forgot, and another week goes by.
Most of it is normally straightforward, if you’ve been at your current home for a few years you should know things like which boundaries you’re responsible for maintaining, if there’s a shared driveway, where drains run, things like that. Some things might have to be looked up, check the paperwork from when you bought your house, often obscure things will be mentioned there. Often there will be a ‘don’t know’ box to tick. The paperwork usually looks worse than it really is. Twenty or so pages can boil down to only 40–50 questions as some may not be relevant to your house. Make a separate list of those items you’re not sure of, so that you can discuss with your solicitor. Better to check, rather than have to change the paperwork or re-do it. Nowadays, most of it can be done online or via email, but some things will still have to be done in person.
The solicitor is being paid to take the stress, or most of it, from your shoulders. However, there may be unexpected problems, which cause both you and the solicitor stress. A solicitor goes home at the end of the day and can forget about work (your house). Unfortunately, you may be living in the ‘problem’ house so you can’t. In that situation, when you’ve done what you can, write down the issues you can’t deal with to discuss with the solicitor next day, then put the pack away.
Go out, take a break, watch TV, take a bath, just get away from the paperwork. If you normally suffer from stress or even if you don’t, go further:
- Meditation is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. It doesn’t have to be official meditation, whatever works for you is what counts.
- Talking to friends or family can ease the stress. Most of them have moved house before and know what you’re going through.
- If you have a hobby, spend some time at this.
- Regular exercise releases endorphins to make you feel good.
- Eat healthily. It doesn’t have to be vegan or vegetarian, so long as it is a balanced diet.
- Get a good night’s sleep. This cannot be emphasised enough, at any time. Sleep heals the body and mind. Always make sure you get quality sleep.
Moving day is one of the most stressful parts of moving house. Do you hire a big van and do all the packing, loading and moving yourself? Can you afford to hire a removal company to come in and do everything for you? Every removal company works a little differently, but they all offer whatever services you want to pay for.
Removal dates only become fixed when ‘exchange’ is made. When contracts are exchanged, the sale and purchase is confirmed. The removal date is normally the same day as ‘completion’ which is the day monies are exchanged and the deal is finalised. Vans are loaded on the day of completion, house keys are dropped off at the selling estate agents, and you move to your new house. Unloading is done, either by you or the removal company and you have officially moved in.
Congratulations – you have moved house. Now the real work begins.
Susan Butler is an editor for Psychreg. She is passionate about finding ways to lead more balanced lives and improve overall health and well-being.