When it comes to stressful circumstances in life, they don’t come much higher on the list than moving house. Depending on whose list you look at, moving home is right up there with bereavement, divorce, redundancy and dealing with debt. But that’s a bit odd when you think about it. None of the others are at all nice to have to deal with, but moving house really should be. New home, new start and all that. So in this blog entry we focus on the stresses and strains of moving home – and how you can eliminate them… The metaphorical road to moving house is not exactly paved for an easy ride. It’s very very rare that you meet anyone who says; ‘I put it on the market, sold it in a week, put an offer in on the new place and completed the following month.’ So here are our tips on how to dodge the potholes, avoid the wrong turns and the stay on the straight and narrow.
Buying and Selling
Unless you are a first time buyer, buying a second property as an investment or have been lucky enough to win the Euromillions – it’s pretty likely that you’ll be selling one property to finance (or partly finance) the next. You’ll already know that the way the UK housing market is structured gives rise to the most stress inducing element of moving house – the chain. Sadly, it has nothing to do with Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ stupendous Formula 1 theme tune.
Chains arise when the buyer of one property also has to sell their own, their buyer has to sell theirs and so on. Depending on the region chains in the UK are typically between 5 and 10 properties. ‘No chain’ sales only account for around 10% of all property sales. The end of the chain normally has a cash or first time buyer at one end and someone selling a property without buying a new one at the other – for example inheritance from a recently deceased relative or releasing equity in a buy-to-let. The trouble with chains is that it only takes one transaction in the chain to go awry to affect everyone who’s part of it.
The way to reduce Chain stress might seem fairly obvious – try and avoid becoming part of one. There are ways to do it, but they depend on market trends. For example – if you’d managed to sell up in 2008 and move into rented accommodation for 12 months you could have snapped up a bargain as a ‘no chain’ buyer in 2009/10 – after property prices dropped due to the recession. The money you spent on renting would be offset by the drop in property prices. With Britain in recovery and prices on the increase it’s now become much harder to make that work. So another way to limit the length of your chain is to buy a new build. That way you become a final link at the end of any potential chain. You can also instruct your Estate Agent to allow a discount to anyone chain free who is interested in your property.
If you don’t have the luxury of making sure you’re not in a chain, all you can really do is chill. You have absolutely no control over the destiny of anyone else’s sales, so there’s really no point in getting worked up about them. Easy to say, harder to do.
The Physical Move
So let’s assume that the buying and selling side of things is working out. That the conveyancing paperwork is flowing back and forth and all is tickety-boo. It’s worth thinking about the physical move. Most mover opt for employing a reputable removals firm to do the legwork for them. These days you can arrange them to pack everything up for you too. On the one hand that takes the headache out of it, but on the other you will be handing the care of your stuff over to complete strangers.
One solution is to use self storage for all the stuff that you don’t want to trust to the removals firm. It’s also handy as as a contingency: if you haven’t exchanged yet things can go wrong at the last minute pushing the move-in to your new property back a few days. Whilst most removal companies will offer storage in these events, it’s often deep storage, where you can’t access your stuff. Self storage still allows you access.
In fact, one trend that we’ve seen is using self storage as a ‘staging post’ for all your household belongings – moving a bit at a time. It’s usually cheaper than full removals and allows you to move out of one property and into the next in a manner that’s a little less daunting. We can of course help with that.