Whether buying or renting, moving house is a stressful life event. So how can you make it more fun and less stress? Is that even possible?
I don’t think I’m on my own when I say that as soon as there is a flicker of moving, I am straight onto Rightmove to check out the eye candy. Hours of filtering, scrolling, selecting, filtering again and shortlisting properties ensues!
The whole process highlights what you really cannot live without – I don’t ever want to swing a cat in a kitchen, but it’s nice to know that you could open a cupboard door and the fridge door, at the same time!
As first time buyers, we wanted to make sure we could get a ‘decision in principle’ from the bank before we started viewing any properties. That didn’t stop me from checking out what was for sale though! On our way back from our bank appointment, we booked a viewing at a property which we knew would be a big project and would need an mahoosive extension, but we were ready for a project. We viewed the house and, although in theory it would be a great house, it just didn’t feel right. Two more property viewings happened after this and I was starting to lose hope a little. We would need need a lot more money, it seemed, to find anything half decent in this area and even then I wasn’t completely happy with what we would end up with. We decided that we would have a break from viewings…
One Friday night, before a weekend away, I was scrolling through Rightmove when I saw a house that I had noticed a couple of months before. It had been re-listed and the price reduced. It had original features, a place to park and room for a guest bedroom and an office. I sent an enquiry and waited…
The following Monday I couldn’t wait any longer and, endeavouring to be proactive, phoned the agents to arrange a viewing. We could see it that night after work. Excited doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt!
We met the agent at the front door and as the door opened we were met with original wooden floors in the hallway leading to a reception room that had original terracotta and black tiles. The living room had a beautiful bay window and as we walked upstairs we were met by cast iron fireplaces in two of the bedrooms and stunning original corbels. The period features had me hooked.
The house had been empty for over a year and rented out previously, which meant that it just felt tired. Tired and dejected. Tired of being viewed and not snapped up. Tired of being cared for with ‘half jobs’. Tired of carrying all the beautiful period features and them not being appreciated.
At this point I must say that I am a person that finds it very difficult to hide what they’re thinking – it shows all over my face. I’m not very good at ‘playing it cool’ or keeping a poker face. We met the agent in the middle reception room (I had already earmarked that as the dining room in my head!) and I can’t imagine what may have led him to this conclusion (perhaps the Cheshire Cat grin on your face Lydia?!) but he just knew and said, “you really like this house don’t you?!”. “Yeah, it’s really lovely”, I said, slowly nodding I thought, but in reality I must have looked like one of those a bobble head dogs that are found on car dashboards!
I can’t clearly remember what happened next, but I know how I felt. I had that feeling in my tummy – anxious anticipation and excitement all rolled into one. I could see the potential in every room – the kitchen where cups of tea would be made and food prepared; the bathroom where I would more than likely rush to get ready in before work; the bedrooms where we could have family and friends to stay; and the living room where we could spend cosy nights in and entertain. Yes, I wanted it to be our home.
That evening we discussed it and decided that we would put an offer in the next day. We both felt that this house was right for us. All that was needed was a phone call to the agents, an offer and the seller would be happy – right?
We put in an offer that was realistic – the house had been empty for over a year, it would need a new bathroom, new kitchen and some TLC. That offer was rejected. Too low apparently.
By the Wednesday night I was sick and tired of having back and forth conversations with the estate agents, who themselves were getting frustrated with the lack of negotiation from the Seller. We decided that if that was how it going to be then we would carry on looking. We weren’t under any time pressure and had three months to play with before we would have to go back to the bank. I sent a few enquiries off for some more properties we had seen. ‘Their loss’, I thought.
The next day I received a call from the estate agents. They had spoken to the Seller and told him that he was being daft and that he should accept our most recent offer. The Seller had agreed to this but wasn’t happy. The negotiations were finally over though and I was so pleased! We had it confirmed in writing, instructed our Solicitor and began the process. We would be buying this house and it would be ours. Not much longer now. Obviously, Pinterest boards were created and we started discussing our initial plans for the house, studying the floor plans and finally able to check out different designs without feeling that it was wishful thinking.
I remember saying at the time that if the negotiation process had been anything to go by, we should prepare for a difficult purchase. I really wanted to be wrong.
The Seller lied about when the windows and doors had been fitted, he was not cooperative about responding to enquires and, once we had got an agreement to an indemnity insurance policy for the windows and doors, pressured us to exchange Contracts by saying that ‘if we didn’t soon then he would get a tenant in the property’. Empty words, I thought. More fool him! The property wasn’t ready for tenants and as if he was going to to go to all that trouble when our documentation was already signed and we had been waiting on him!
Slight rant there, sorry, but you certainly get the measure of a person during a process like this. To think that he had owned this house and been a guardian of the period features for all that time and now, after not caring about it for over a year, he was going to be awkward?! Not a chance.
There may be no way to remove the stress of the buying or moving process, but you definitely have to enjoy it for what it is. You are buying and/or moving into a house that will become your home. The place you come home to and invite family and friends to. You may eventually move onto another house, but you will also remember your time spent right there.
Finally, the completion day was set and the frenzy to pack up our boxes set in. The day came, the money was sent, and the keys (and house) were ours. That evening after work we went round to the house and walked in, with no agents. Now it just needed a good clean…
This is a little insight into our house buying process, but I’d love to hear about yours – was your Seller awkward or co-operative?