In the second of two articles, 10 things to do and to avoid when making one of the biggest moves of your life
1/ Pay no attention to the opinions of friends, relatives, neighbours, painters and decorators or any of the professionals involved when it comes to how long your Inverness property will take to sell or what level of popular appeal it’ll have with potential buyers.
Invariably, they’ll present an encouragingly reassuring view that because of its splendid location, attractive appearance, excellent price, lovely décor etc it’ll “go very quickly”. It’s human nature to respond in such a positive manner, and it’s what you want to hear. But this serves to ramp up your expectations as you await a steady stream of interested viewers when the “For Sale” sign goes up. And it can bring on the excessively rapid onset of disappointment when that steady stream barely turns out to be a trickle, and some weeks no-one at all. Then, as time passes, the mantra changes to: “When it comes to buying – it only takes one.” This is true. And sooner or later, that “one” will arrive. But you have no way of knowing when that’ll be. And meanwhile the nagging doubts will grow. The only time you’ll find out how popular or saleable your home was/will be is after it’s on the market, and after it’s been sold. Encouraging speculation beforehand, however well intended, is not only worthless, it can end up being wounding. Difficult though it is, block it out.
2/ If you’re buying a house, look beyond the usual property-based websites. More and more people are using alternatives to try and avoid sale costs. Look at sites like Gumtree, and you never know what you may find.
3/ Should you be present when an agent from Purple Bricks or whoever else you’ve chosen to sell your home shows people around? Yes, you should if at all possible. This may not be convenient in relation to work schedules but it could make all the difference in selling your home. Sales professionals will transmit the impression – or directly say – that you should best keep out of the way and leave it to them. And your inclination may well be to agree. But no matter how good they are at their job, it’s not enough. You are only one of their many clients and they cannot possibly provide credible and convincing answers to diverse, unpredictable questions home viewers may have in mind. You don’t have to hog the conversation, but to linger personably in the background. You’re not there to sell, but to respond. And if you can give the impression that in all truth – and truthfully – you are reluctantly moving on from a place you’ve been very happy in with friendly neighbours and many other things going for it because of a genuine change in circumstances, that will strike a chord with prospective buyers. You’re not there to give a line in regular sales patter, but to provide some natural human interaction, about parking, shops, noise, schools, and even including some drawbacks. And if you are and sound genuine and honest, it can make a more favourable impression than any sales agent can.
4/ “Expert” surveys have found that only 15 per cent of people take account of the appearance of carpets and other floor coverings when looking over a property, the implication being that these should be near the bottom of the list of things you prioritise to make your “for sale” home look good. Which is fine if you wish to reduce the chances of 15 per cent of people actually buying the place. In fact, a new carpet of a decent texture – which can be in place for the remarkably good value of around £200 from Inverness stores – may well freshen up the appearance of a room like nothing else. In other areas, it can be difficult to decide on what fixtures and fittings need to be replaced or upgraded to make a home look good. But there are many, many homes on offer at any one time in the ever-churning Inverness property market. And any blatant – or even minor – signs of grubbiness or disrepair may stand out a mile to prospective buyers who have plenty other options to choose from.
5/ When clearing out a property – particularly the attic if you have one – isn’t it time to be ruthless? The accumulated debris of years of occupation will have built up overhead, untouched and unopened since it was fondly deposited in the loft at a date and time long gone in the memory. The cobwebs and dust covering plastic bags of this, that and whatever speak for themselves. It may be fleetingly painful carting off to the Longman dump an item or old plastic bag of stuff that may have had some meaning, at some particular time in the distant past. But isn’t that the best place for it? Or do you feel such a bond with it that it needs to be transported to your new home, where it will lie for many more years, gathering cobwebs and dust?
6/ As previously emphasised on INV, you simply cannot be too careful these days when being involved on high value – or even low value – property deals involving the exchange of large amounts of money. Automatically assume that an elite team of the world’s most sophisticated cyber-criminals in Russia, China, or the US have homed in specifically on you and your Inverness home sale/purchase and have made it their prime mission to subject you personally to the devastating impact of online computer fraud. And that you have a key role to play in trying to thwart them. Your resulting actions in relation to questions and checks and balances, tipping over into ultra-caution/paranoia, may garner odd looks from solicitors or bank staff. But better that than finding out in one memorable phone call that the money from your entire life’s work has somehow vanished into thin air.
7/ Everyone’s nightmare is to buy a place and end up alongside “bad neighbours” – a vague warning you’re liable to hear repeated in casual conversations, particularly if you’re moving to a flat. So should you take on the imperative of the future avoidance of “bad neighbours” as another burden to add to an already stressful situation? No, you shouldn’t. Because, unless you hire a security team with espionage skills to carry out round-the-clock monitoring, how are you possibly supposed to know or find out what neighbours are like? Obviously, most folk would avoid buying a home next door to a place with a front garden looking like a junkyard, and if you’re visiting a flat and are lucky enough to be there when a cacophony of Led Zeppelin crashes through the wall, you’ve just had a very lucky break. But that’s somewhat unlikely. Otherwise, if a place and its surroundings look clean, neat and tidy, you pay your money and you take your chance. And the vast majority of people in Inverness – the overwhelming majority in fact – do try and be decent and considerate to those living around them. All you can do is not stress out that you may end up alongside one of the tiny minority who don’t.
8/ Just because solicitors charge five-star prices don’t automatically expect five-star service from them. They’ll get the job done for whatever exorbitant amount you’re paying them. But they are less than universal in the way they treat clients, ranging from those who’ll answer their phone right away and respond almost as a personal friend, to those who respond to calls belatedly, or sometimes not at all. Many people treat solicitors with deference, but they are not doctors or surgeons. They are well-heeled people charging a thousand quid or more for exchanging paperwork only they understand, and if you are one of those who expect and volubly demand damn good service for all that money, more power to your elbow.
9/ After it’s all over, does anyone ever regret moving home? That, after all the stress and hassle, to put it at its mildest, they’d wished they stayed where they were? That’s hard to imagine. Onward and upward. The settling in period may be, unsettling. Inverness has expanded in recent years with the creation of hugely diverse neighbourhoods, and some local people could literally get lost in the city now. Where you are may bear little or no relation to where you were. The period of adjustment won’t be over in days, but may take weeks or even a few months, but new horizons are looming, and it was surely all for the best.
10/ At a point near settlement, what better idea could there be to book an advance holiday to get away from it all and celebrate the fact that it’s finally all over? Sounds great but think twice about that. A week or two after you’ve installed yourself in your new home, the thought of then hauling yourself off from Dalcross or Edinburgh to Spain or somewhere further afield may be just too much, leaving you scrabbling around amid domestic chaos trying to find your phone to get some kind of refund. What’s that old adage about folk being glad they’re back from holiday to get a rest?