When you should (and shouldn’t) move home
After over twenty years helping people to buy and sell property at various points in their lives, you tend to pick up the odd nugget of information about why and when people move home. You get to know when problems are going to arise and when opportunities for your customers may just present themselves. As an agent, you also try to pass that advice and experience on whenever possible. It’s not always right (no matter how well intentioned) and, more frequently, its not always acted upon but, you try to do your best.
The reason our advice is not acted on as often as perhaps I, rather pompously perhaps, believe it should be, is that our advice is usually only sought when there is an already emotionally charged set of circumstances in the customers life. And this often leads to understandably irrational or, short sighted decisions. In short, we usually get called in once a life changing event is already well advanced.
So what are these trigger points? What makes people move home at short notice and are there alternatives that readers can take away and ponder at leisure without the pressures of current events fogging their judgement? Below, I’ve tried to list the most common trigger points that I’ve come across in my career that cause people to buy or sell property and, to offer a brief opinion and some advice on each event. When you’re a first time buyer – In very simplistic terms, the sooner you can safely afford to buy a property… buy! Historically, house prices in the UK have more or less doubled every ten years and whilst there are a few nasty short term losses over each 10 year cycle, it has historically always been a very good medium to long term bet.
When you lose your job – Bad stuff happens from time to time but, that doesn’t always mean you have to lose your home or that you should rush into selling it. What are the real prospects of re-employment within a year? Can you negotiate terms with your mortgage lender to make reduced payments or defer interest (you may be very surprised at how helpful they will be) and, a chat with an independent, whole of market, financial adviser (IFA) may help put your finances in better order too! IF the financial advice is to sell, then take good advice from an experienced agent and explain your circumstances to them. Set a realistic asking price and make sure your property looks at its best to help you achieve the best price.
When you get our first promotion/ job move – Congratulations! Again, take a breath and look at your options. You may well want to splurge on a larger property with bigger garden out in the country but, will it suit your lifestyle and, are you likely to need, want or, have to move again within the next few years? Extending your existing home may make more sense. As might renting it out and using the rent to pay towards renting/ buying in the new area if you are moving away (the job might not work out after all). You may also find that you can even make more money for yourself in the long run by taking this option. If you have to sell, and sell fast; again, a good agent will be able to advise on the best price and course of action to help you get to your new area quickly and with as little stress as possible.
When your first child comes along – Once again, congratulations! If you need another bedroom, you need another bedroom. An enclosed garden is always nice too but, until the little one is a couple of years old, it really wont matter to them whether it is ‘their’ garden or the local park. In short, don’t stretch yourself financially; you’ll have enough pull on your finances in other ways! As far as selling is concerned, call us nice and early. Even in a boom market, property takes time to go through and unforseen problems can add weeks and months to a transaction. Trust me, you really DON’T want to be moving home in the last few weeks before your due date! It’s also a great time to talk to an IFA about planning for your new families future and, ensuring that your affairs are all sorted… because you never know when that idiot you see every morning on the way to work driving the Corsa will misjudge THAT bend….
When you separate from a partner – Been there, done that, got the T-shirt and the scars to prove it. This one usually comes out of the blue, is almost always very emotionally charged and selling a home at the same time can easily make bad matters worse. A quick sale is usually called for. TRY to be civil to each other (and us as agents please!). One side usually wants to buy out the other and so will ask the agents for a low valuation “Of course you know; the property IS haunted, has old mine workings in the kitchen and suffers from Mundic plumbing etc etc”. Whilst; you’ve guessed it, the other side puts an immense amount of pressure on the agents to value high “best house in the street etc etc etc” If the partnership is over, don’t prolong it. That’s all I’m going to say on this matter.
When your children start leaving home – Where the hell did the time go?! Blink and they’ve gone from vomiting down your back as you burp them, to vomiting down your hall as they come in late from the club. Nonetheless, by this point, refer them to my first point above and then take a deep breath… You are probably middle aged. Sorry but, it had to be said. Now is not the time for rushing to put your home on the market. Now is the time to take a few weeks or months to work out what the hell you want to do with the next thirty to forty years before you make your next move. Chances are, by now, you will be living in a property that you are rattling around in and is costing a fortune to run. Yes, it would be lovely to bring any grandchildren here but, well… it’s your money and you’ve got a long time left on this earth to provide for (unless the offspring of Corsa driver gets you on the level crossing on the way back from the restaurant one night!). My advice? Decide what lifestyle you want, how you’re going to fund it (yes, IFA time again!) and downsize!
When the gardening/ housework starts to win and you, perhaps, need regular, easy access to medical facilities/ shops – If you haven’t already downsized, now really is the time to do it. While you can, rather when mother nature steps in with a medical complaint and tells you that you have to. Earlier is definitely better!
When your family start telling you they are worried about you – Too often I see elderly people move up to be closer to family and away from friends and familiar places only to be very upset when it hasn’t worked out. Families naturally want Mum & Dad close by but, having an elderly, possibly dependent, relative suddenly arriving into their cosy lifestyle can cause friction and doesn’t always work, no matter how well intentioned. My advice if Mum and Dad are moving away from the area they know to be nearer offspring? Rent! Just initially, but take a years tenancy and have a trial run.
Don’t sell up immediately unless you have to. Yes, it means potentially two moves but, it also allows both generations to get used to the idea and work out the problems that will occur, without the added pressure of there being ‘no-going-back!’ Once again, an IFA and a good agent, will be able to work with you to offer a range of solutions for you. Once you are settled, then give your agent a call and they’ll take care of getting the best price for your old home (perhaps leaving a tidy sum to ensure a comfortable old age as well as the odd treat for any grandchildren? or a generous thank-you present for that oh-so-helpful estate agent whose helped you over the years. No? Oh well, I can but try.)
Immediately after your relative has passed away – A very difficult and painful time and one which most good agents will know how to handle sensitively. Probate must be sought and the genuine worry of having an empty home (not to mention the emotional upset) often causes major concerns for the bereaved offspring. Often deceased estates are large and, may have the potential of development. Listen to your agent, as the executor, you have a duty to the estate and it may well be worth while looking at seeking planning consents, considering alternative methods of sale (such as auction) and, putting clauses into the sale to ensure any potential profit is realised for the benefit of the estate.
You should also bear in mind that where there’s a will, there’s often an argument. You may think I’m a little cynical but will’s have a nasty habit of tearing apart formerly loving siblings and extended families. Remember, different people will react different ways to a death in the family. Some will be very emotionally attached to a property and want to see it stay in the family whilst others will see it as a painful reminder of the death and want it sold quickly. Others, may simply have an eye on getting the latest sports car; after all, their favorite old Corsa has finally packed in…. Good luck!
I welcome feedback so please feel free to leave constructive criticisms or ask questions below. If you could also take a second to rate my blog and pass it on to others who you think may find it interesting that would be great. Thanks.
About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall. He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco. A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards forestate agents in the UK. No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter Living in Penzance with his two spaniels and Oscar, an elderly cat, Chris is a keen sailor and likes to keep fit. A former long-standing member of the Territorial Army, in 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade.