Emma Vigus, Managing Director of mio, explores the impact of slow transactions and fall throughs.
Almost 35% of homeowners are over 65 and the over 55s are twice as likely as those under 44 to have two spare bedrooms.
Limited availability of family homes in some areas of the country could be helped if older homeowners were more willing to downsize.
There are lots of reasons for not downsizing and many older people are very happy in their homes, but the complexity and stress of moving home is a key reason why some older people are unwilling to move.
This is ‘John and Pam’s’ story as told by their daughter:
Mum and Dad retired to Cornwall and then decided, in their mid-seventies, to move to the Midlands to be closer to family.
The people who my parents were purchasing from changed their minds about selling as the process was too stressful and the purchasers of my parents’ property changed their mind because they could not get planning permission to erect an eight foot-high fence as there was a planning restriction on the property. This wasn’t suitable for the purchasers as they wanted to turn the property into an animal sanctuary and needed a higher fence.
Mum and Dad had to start their search again and bought almost in desperation as the chain was in danger of collapsing. New purchasers also had to be found but luckily one of the other interested parties were still keen to proceed. They were moving to the South West from East Anglia which was a blessing as it made it logistically difficult to do an extensive property search in Cornwall.
The impact on my parent’s mental and physical health, particularly for my Dad, was significant, especially as they were living miles away from their family, so it was difficult for us to provide support.
My Dad experienced high blood pressure, palpitations and problems with his memory for the first time. It was also frustrating and worrying for the rest of the family. We’d booked time off to help Mum and Dad move and we had a family holiday planned that we thought we’d have to cancel.
The estate agents and conveyancers managing the sale of the property my parents were trying to purchase should have been far more proactive. The conveyancers failed to keep everyone updated and when the deal finally went ahead, my Mum and Dad had to agree the moving date with the sellers rather than the conveyancer.
The agents managing the sale of my parents’ property were far more proactive and transparent but, again the conveyancers should have provided more support. They knew there was a restriction relating to the height of the fence, but failed to inform the buyer’s conveyancer until a late stage in the process.
It took my parents eight months to move back to the Midlands. The family holiday was successfully postponed but my Father passed away shortly after we returned from holiday. I believe that this was partly due to the stress caused by the move.
What would have helped?
Understand what buyers and sellers really want from a property and encourage them to do research before they make an offer
Where it’s clear that a purchaser wants to undertake work that may require planning consent, they should be encouraged to do their own investigations into likely challenges before they make an offer.
This is likely to involve the potential purchaser spending money and can delay an offer being made but it will help to reduce fall-throughs at a later date.
Recognise the differing needs of buyers and sellers
Moving home is stressful for anyone, irrespective of age but agents and conveyancers should recognise that some buyers and sellers need more support. Asking buyers and sellers to complete a simple questionnaire at the outset will help agents better understand their clients’ specific needs.
Armed with this information, agents can also enhance their ability to cross-sell other products and monetise the customer journey.
Communication, communication, communication
Home movers frequently express annoyance regarding poor communication. Sarah, a buyer, says: “Fortunately my purchase didn’t fall-through, but it took over eight months to complete.”
“Communication with the conveyancer was driven entirely by me; the conveyancer wasn’t proactive, and I was constantly chasing for updates.”
There’s lots of ways that agents and conveyancers can keep buyers and sellers updated from telephone through to apps, like mio.
Remember that your clients often just need reassurance that you are working hard for them so, even if you don’t have a formal update on sales progression, contact your buyer and seller to let them know you’re on top of things.
Make sure buyers and sellers understand what they have to do
Poor communication isn’t always down to the agent or the conveyancer. Sarah adds: “I did have to chase the agent for updates but the updates they provided were informative, honest and clear.”
“The buyers, however, failed to communicate and repeatedly missed deadlines so whilst the sale completed, it was close to falling through on several occasions.”
Providing clients with a guide to the home purchase process is great way of demonstrating your firm’s proactive commitment to offering advice and it ensures buyers and sellers understand what they have to do and when they have to do it.
The mio consumer app is also a really useful way of prompting buyers and sellers to complete a task.
A lot of delays are just down to human behaviour, for example someone receives an email on a Tuesday, but they don’t respond until the weekend.
This all adds to the time a sale takes but it should be simple to overcome if buyers and sellers understand that a quick response means they can move into their dream home faster.