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JONATHAN ROLANDE: Buying and selling is too stressful – here is how agents can ease the burden

Lots of things change in the property sector - but one thing always seems to stay the same. For buyers and sellers, the process is incredibly stressful.

And, to quote Rocky Balboa, it ain’t all sunshine and rainbows for all of us working at the heart of these transactions.

We’ve all got our own personal horror-stories of house-move meltdowns. 


April marks Stress Awareness Month, so in the coming days we can definitely expect to see lots of surveys and reports highlighting how moving house is among the most stressful things anyone goes through. Happy Easter!

But if we could genuinely take the stress out of moving, it would have a transformational impact on the sector.  One recent report I read saw 41% of 3,000 homeowners say they would happily move more often if it wasn’t such an upheaval.

That’s almost one in two. Just think about that for a moment. Even if only a fraction of those 41 percent actually did decide to move more often it would turbocharge sales and inject renewed life into the market.

It would also encourage housebuilders to revisit what remain pretty depressing projections for construction over the coming years.

But what can we realistically do to try and reduce the stress people experience when moving home?

Well quite a lot actually. 

Ironically, the theme for Stress Awareness Month is “little by little.”

And that’s really apt because I think making small steps can help make a huge difference in this area. 

There’s six things I’d suggest to kick-off with

The first area we can help reduce the burden is around solicitors and legal concerns. Over a quarter of people who complain of going through stress when moving blame the issue of solicitors not getting back to them. Nowadays it is entirely possible to move without having any actual conversation with the legal expert overseeing your move. It can all be done online.

But not everyone likes that. As an estate agent you can help by referring clients to good solicitors, and to ones who prefer the human touch. Aim to get a sense of what your client will prefer. And, where possible, reassure them about a legal issue that might be troubling them. It’s highly likely that something giving them a sleepless night is something you’ve seen many times before and which you can guide them on.

Admin and paperwork is another source of stress. A good estate agent should provide a checklist at the start detailing everything a person will need to wade through along with a timeline that sets out as when the information is needed. Avoid dumping huge chunks of paperwork on a client at once. You might feel like you’ve got a job out of your inbox, but you’ll likely add to the stress of the person you are trying to get moved. Remember they are probably working. They might be running a business. Raising a family. Paperwork is another job on a bulging to-do list. So be patient where you can be.

Fraud is another major and growing concern for people moving home - more so now perhaps than ever. Buyers will constantly be reading about victims of property fraud in horror-stories across the newspapers. Many can work themselves into a frenzy that they will become the latest statistic. Talk them through the measures which are in place to protect them and alert them to areas where they need to be careful. Also be clear that you are available to advise them if they have any concerns over fraudulent activity. Knowing you are alert to the issue will, in itself, help reduce their stress.

Many house movers also get stressed because they feel like they have no control over the process. Huge sums of money are at play. Forever homes are at stake. Yet, often, the process is in the hands of others. Keep communication open and, where possible, involve the client in as much of the discussions you are having as possible. And reassure them they can always check in when they need to.

Moving to a new area itself can be stressful, particularly if someone is leaving behind friends and family and moving a distance away. They might know where the local school is and its Ofsted rating, but they might not have any information about great local shops, places to eat or where the local health centres are. Could you produce a little pack which explains this? It’s probably a ten-minute job but it could be a lifesaver for the client. Make sure it includes the day the bins are collected. A little lifesaver for anyone moving in who needs to get rid of a load of junk.

Finally, and this is my personal favourite: be less like an estate agent. Every industry is guilty of having its own jargon and it’s easy to fall into the trap of talking to clients like they know what acronyms stand for. So can we please make an Agreement in Principle and ditch the home-buying jargon?

These are just a handful of the things we can do to try and ease the burden. But getting this right really shouldn’t be seen as a stressful addition to all of our to-do lists. It should be a base requirement which helps ensure more people feel confident about moving. And makes them more confident about them recommending us to others as the go-to person who takes the stress out of moving.



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