Anyone who has moved house recently will testify to the findings of a new study, which claims that the stress involved in the process ages you by between two and four years.
So what are the side-effects of a move, and what can you do to keep the stress down?
Aged by stressThe study, by In-Deed conveyancers, found that on average it takes 15 weeks to complete a sale - from initial offer to actually handing over the keys. During that process, respondents suffered a number of alarming symptoms. Some 10% said their hair started falling out (or they started tearing it out), while 14% said they started to suffer from short-term memory failure.
Psychologist Dr Glenn Wilson, who led the study, said: "Periods of prolonged stress and anxiety can seriously take their toll on our wellbeing, with depression, weight loss and premature ageing a likely outcome."
Both buyers and sellers say it's one of the most stressful things they have done - and even more difficult than handling family arguments or job interviews.
Unavoidable hassleThe bad news is that to some extent this stress is totally unavoidable. Property sales are horribly complex things. Not only do you have a massive legal headache to overcome, and a million and one pieces of small print to examine, but you are also dealing with human beings at the other end of the process, who are liable to act irrationally, change their mind and either pull out or start making silly demands at a key point in the process.
What can you do?All you can do to protect yourself is to do as much preparation as possible before you get into the process. Finding an excellent surveyor a fantastic mortgage broker and a brilliant lawyer are the key. Their job will be to take the stress out of the process for you. It means you won;t be bombarded with endless problems, but with helpful solutions.
It's also worth understanding your paperwork and making sure it's in a good position when you hand it over. If there is a glaring problem, you may well be able to find it and deal with it before you start.
So, for example, if you failed to get planning permission for a major alteration, you need to go back and either apply for it retrospectively - or if enough time has passed for you not to need it, you should get a structural engineer in to certify it is safe. This will stop a major spanner in the works at a critical moment, and mean you are prepared for any tough question thrown at you.
Don't get me wrong. There's every chance you will age significantly during the process. There will be the sleepless nights, the unreliable estate agents and the buyers who vanish off the face of the planet. However, at least if you do your preparation and have the right people on your side, you stand a small chance of not feeling too beaten down by the process to enjoy your new home.