How to take the hassle out of moving

The excitement of a new home is usually somewhat tempered by the daunting prospect of heaps of paperwork and then moving your belongings lock, stock and barrel.

But, says Neville McIntyre, chairman of Aida, South Africa's best-known estate agency group, a bit of planning can go a long way to prevent time-consuming and irritating problems.

"Right at the start," he says, "consumers should ensure that the sale agreement is in good order. Apart from the agreed price, it is critical that the agreement should state when the buyer may take occupancy of the property, which is usually the first day of the month after the transfer of ownership is registered.

"But in cases where the new owner needs occupancy by a certain date irrespective of whether or not the transfer has been completed - for instance if he is relocating because of a job offer in a new town - it is imperative that this date is stated in the agreement. Occupational rent due to the seller until registration should also be stipulated."

On the other hand, in cases where the seller can only vacate the property on a certain date that may be later than the date of transfer, the agreement must stipulate the occupational rent due to the buyer, says McIntyre.

Other vital stipulations include the date on which necessary repairs to the property must be completed - usually before transfer - and when the risk passes to the buyer for insurance purposes. In cases where the seller stays on after transfer, it should be clearly stipulated who is responsible for maintaining adequate insurance cover for the property.

Once the agreement is in place, buyers can start planning the move itself, says McIntyre.  "Apart from booking removal services in good time, it certainly makes matters easier to have the property professionally cleaned before taking up residence.  It is also a good idea to book a once-off garden service shortly before or after moving in because gardens often get neglected as new owners are kept busy unpacking and settling in."

Finally, arrangements for collecting the keys from either the seller or the estate agent should be made well in advance and a full set of keys should preferably be collected a day or two before cleaning crews arrive or before the removal van stops at the gate.

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