Why buying a house is more stressful than Covid, divorce, or a driving test

By Sally Burton
Tuesday, 15th March 2022, 8:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th March 2022, 8:30 am

It may seem unlikely but the process of buying a house in the UK market is more stressful for most people than Covid, Brexit or the nerve-wracking driving test, new research has revealed.

A survey found that 85 per cent of recent homebuyers experienced some degree of stress when moving home - with 27 per cent stating the process was very stressful.

So stressful, in fact, that it ranked top of the list of life’s most stressful events, beating Covid, Brexit, a driving test, having a child, school exams, job interviews, divorce, redundancy, getting married, being arrested, or a marriage proposal.

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For over a quarter of respondents, there was a more serious side to the stress caused by moving, with 14 per cent saying it exacerbated an existing mental health issue, while 12 per cent said it caused their mental health to deteriorate.

So what exactly is it about moving house that we find so stressful?

The lack of certainty around when their purchase would complete ranked top for homebuyers when it came to the stress inducing factors of buying a home.

The total time it takes to buy a home in the UK ranked as the second most stressful aspect, while the fact that a transaction can collapse at any point until the sale has completed was understandably the next biggest worry.

Being left in the dark by the industry professionals facilitating a purchase also caused a good deal of stress, as did being unable to contact them to get an update.

Other factors to make the list include the hidden costs of purchasing, the negotiation process when submitting an offer and the sheer size of the financial commitment undertaken when committing to a mortgage.

Christina Melling, CEO of Stipendium, who commisioned the research, said: “We’ve lived through some pretty stressful events in recent years whether it be the political uncertainty caused by Brexit, or the unprecedented events of the pandemic which were a lifetime first for many.

"However, from research we know that the process of purchasing a property remains the most stressful experience, more so than Covid or Brexit, as well as other major life events such as marriage, childbirth and even redundancy.

"This is hardly surprising as we’re a nation of aspirational homeowners and so despite our gender, political alignment, age or relationship status, buying a home is something we’re all likely to experience and something that is likely to increase our stress levels when we do.

"Despite the UK boasting one of the best performing property markets on a global level, the process we have to endure also remains out of date, uncertain and takes an extremely long time.

"It’s quite extraordinary that in this day and age, buyers still struggle to get a concrete completion date, suffer due to transactions falling through, can’t contact their estate agent or solicitor and also fall foul of the hidden cost involved.

"It’s not just the sale itself that can suffer due to these poor industry practices, it also impacts the mental health for many who find themselves on the receiving end.

"This was a motivating factor behind the design and launch of our Merge platform, as we wanted to give homebuyers a full view of the process while also empowering them to take better control of their translation.”