Moving houses 搬家

People in England used to say  moving house is one of the most stressful events in life after the death of a spouse, and divorce. 

以前英國人都說搬家會有有很大壓力,只有配偶往生,或離婚才會引致更大的壓力。

That must have been the days when people still had job security, this was still a peaceful world, and there were no mobile phones for us to lose. However, when I was selling my flat in England to come to Taiwan, I still found the whole process very stressful.

我想當年應該仍然生活安穩,太平盛世,及不會遺失手機的日子吧。但去年我在離開英國來臺灣之前要賣掉房子時,仍然感到十分大壓力!

In England, it typically takes about three months, if you’re lucky, from finding a buyer and agreeing on a price, to completing the transaction.  If this straddles over Christmas or the summer holidays then expect a delay as there is always a party involved that is away on holiday and things have to wait till they come back.  In my case, I found a buyer in October and completed in March, that’s FIVE months!!

在英國,從跟買家達成協議到完成所有文件成交房子,如果幸運的話,一般需時大約3個月。若遇上聖誕假期或暑假,那就可能要更長時間,因為過程中總會有其中一方在放假,不能處理事務。我賣房子時,從10月份找到買家到3月初成交,就要整整5個月呢!

Put simply the stages of buying /selling a property in England are 

  1. Agree a price with the buyer
  2. Ask your solicitor to start all the legal paperwork
  3. Exchange contracts
  4. Completion

Sounds simple right?  Here’s what happened in reality.

其實在英國買房子過程並不複雜,大概有以下階段:

  1. 與買家達成協議價錢
  2. 請律師處理法律文件
  3. 雙方交換合約
  4. 正式成交

聽落很簡單吧?但我的情況卻不一樣。

Having shook hands and agreed on a price with my buyer in October 2015, we immediately instructed our solicitors to start the paperwork. This period takes up the majority of the time, I’d say probably around 90%. During the entire stage 2, neither party has to sign anything to bind us to the transaction,and the buyer doesn’t have to pay a single penny deposit. This is the biggest problem with the legal process when buying a property in England. (Scotland has a different and better process.)

2015年10月份我跟買家握手同意賣價後,大家馬上請律師開始辦理法律文件。這第二階段佔整個買賣過程最長時間,我相信大概有90%。在這階段,雙方不用簽任何買賣協議書或臨時買賣合約,而買方更不用付任何押金/訂金。這安排就是在英格蘭買賣房子的最大弊處。(蘇格蘭那邊的做法可不一樣喔…)

During this stage, either parties can pull out at any time. Christmas is always a risky period due the stress of Christmas and family gatherings.  My niece sold her flat before Christmas some years ago, and after New Year was told by her solicitors that the buyers had backed out as they were getting a divorce!  In my case, it wasn’t as bad, but still extremely annoying.  

在這階段雙方可以隨時退出交易也不算毀約,所以若遇上聖誕假期,就可能有點風險。聖誕節是英國最重要節日,有些家庭會一早花很多時間及心思準備,亦有些人可能會被迫與某些親戚渡過這節日,因而産生磨擦或不愉快事件。幾年前我姨甥女年底時正在賣房子,但聖誕假期過後,她收到律師通知說買家兩婦夫會擱置交易,因為他們決定離婚。我的情況並沒有那麼糟糕,但仍然令到我受到很大壓力。

During these few months, my buyer come back several times with their tradesman to prepare for some works they wanted to do after completion.  Although I was was busy myself with packing and everything, I was happy to let them drop by.  Towards the end of the legal process, the buyers obnoxiously took advantage of my situation to leave UK, and asked for a £5k reduction!  Normally I would have told them where to go, but given my circumstances,  I eventually agreed to a £2k reduction, demanded that we exchange contracts in the next two weeks and banned them from returning till after completion.  This is what I call stressful!!

在律師辦理文件這幾個月內,買家有好幾次要求帶裝璜工人來預備成交後可立刻開始佈置。雖然當時我自己也忙著收拾東西,但我也很樂意給他們方便。誰知在後期,可能因為知道我已安排要離開英國,他們居然很無恥地要求我降價£5000!平時的我一定會很不客氣地回絕他們,但當時我的處境真是動彈不得,結果只有迫不得巳跟他們討價還價至£2000。我要求一定要在兩星期內完成交易,及在交易完成之前他們不得再踏進我家門半步。這就是我說的壓力!

My shipment from UK to Taiwan 從英國運到臺灣的家當

Stage 3 Exchanging Contracts finally came. That is legally binding on both parties and a deposit must be paid at this point. Stage 4 Completion normally follows two weeks later. 

終於到了第三階段交換合約。這時雙方都有法律責任一定要完成交易,而買家亦要在這個時候付上押金/訂金。最後的第四階段,正式成交通常會在大約兩星期之後完成。

Changing the price post agreement happens often in England when the property market is on the rise.  Gazumping is where the seller decides to sell to someone who offers an higher price, leaving the original buyer in limbo. Morally this is wrong, but sadly this is still legal in England, causing about 18% of transactions to fall through.  

其實在樓市興旺時,達成協議後再有人競標這類個案在英格蘭很常見。有估計每年約有18%個案因為中途有人競價,賣家決定跟新買家交易。賣家這樣做雖說很沒有信用,但可惜直到現在,在英格蘭法律上還是容許這種行為。

Do you have a similar problem in your country? Have you encountered any stressful situations when moving houses?

在你的國家有沒有類似的荒唐事件?或你搬家時又會否感到同樣大的壓力?

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