11 June 2012

Diary of a house seller - and buyer - Part III, June 2012

11 June: We've been looking at prospective houses and have now learned the following:
  • house viewing is tiring and frustrating.
  • every house I've looked at I've loved!
  • being able to look at details and photos is a great help, especially being able to access the details quickly on the internet.
  • estate agents are not as helpful as they could be.
I thought it was possible to give requirements to an estate agent, they'd trawl through the properties on their books and make suggestions and then we could arrange viewings.  But it's not so!

This past week it's been more of a case of finding houses for ourselves on the internet and then asking agents for more information and to view.  It's not been easy to get hold of details, with viewing often taking several days to arrange. (15 June, have just had a response to our email to agent sent eight days ago, requesting a viewing.)

Many agents are very professional.  But there are others who've often arrived late for viewings, they sometimes don't know much about the property and don't even have a copy of the details to give us.  Then they've rushed us around the houses - one time with less than 20 mins being allocated - before they're on to the next client.

Another pitfall has been photography.  It's misleading where the photos on the details are distorted and make the room/garden look far bigger or smaller than they are.  For instance, one set of details made the garden look very big - which we want - and when we got there it wasn't: a waste of everyone's time.  

Another showed a lovely house which was at the top of our price range and from the details looked in good condition.  When we subsequently viewed the house there were several half-finished projects (none mentioned in the details), the cost of which would have taken us way out of our price bracket: so again no good. 

We've been taken around with other prospective purchasers, which we haven't minded, except that the agents don't seem to want the two to meet: rather like  'musical chairs'.  

One property we had to wait over 48 hours to view.  Then, when we got there, the tenants were there (6 of them!), plus the vendor, the agent and two other viewers.  As you can imagine, we couldn't wait to leave that house.

Eventually, we've narrowed it down to seven properties, all of which have their good and bad points.  Do we go for:
  • detached or semi?
  • too small or too big?
  • views
  • near to shops and bus route
  • secluded garden
  • big garden or small garden?
  • garage/workshop
  • older or newer
  • sun at back or front?
Life is so much easier when there's less choice ... then we'd buy any house which was for sale and then alter it to suit us.

... Well, at last we've put in an offer for our chosen house, which inside is very similar to our present home. Fingers crossed ....

12 June am: No news regarding house, so rang agent who relayed the information that Mr house-vendor had accepted the offer but that Mrs house-vendor would not accept, she wanted up to £25,000 more.  A difficult situation. 
pm: Good news this afternoon as our offer has been accepted.  Our next steps are:
  • Send two forms of our id to the agent, at least one of which must give our address, together with solicitor's details.
  • Instruct our solicitor
  • Instruct a surveyor
  • Keep sorting and packing. 
Talking of sorting and packing, I've just thrown away at least 20 glass coffee jars used as storage containers.  It's amazing what we've accumulated over the past five years or so living here.

15 June: The surveyor has been briefed and will phone us after he's carried out the survey early next week.   
We had a morning off today and visited the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, in Bovey Tracey: http://www.crafts.org.uk/ to see 'Engaging the Senses'.  The Devon Guild is always good for inspiration.  Most of my craft stuff has now been packed so it's more for ideas.  
I'm missing it already!  

(Which leads to the question: is sorting out possessions a creative activity?  I certainly feel better once things are tidy and organised.  And amass ideas along the way.  Must remember to make a note of them for when there's the opportunity to start making again.)

Our purchaser has made an appointment come and measure up to decide where furniture is to go.   Am looking forward to doing that in our new property.  

It'll be great when I can publicise on here which is our new abode ....    The living room is as large as the one we have here - 25' x 15' with the kitchen being little larger but with two corners missing - one for a sort of study with French doors to the garden and the other corner is where the cloakroom and stairs are situated.  The kitchen's fabulous and the whole house is well decorated and up-to-date with only a few things to do, including some new windows and attention to part of the roof. 

If, after this remedial work, there's enough money left over, we'd like to attach a conservatory.  
Facing north, it won't get too hot in the summer.

A beautiful conservatory -

One fun job we'll soon be tackling is the garden.  It's a blank canvas of decking, flat grass and raised beds, with a shed at the far end. It isn't a jungle so we won't be intrepidly hacking back overgrown bushes and weeds.  

19 June: Bad news, survey not looking good, so have pulled out and we're now back to square one ....

21 June (first day of summer, so torrential rain): Very glad we viewed lots of houses as returned to our file of 'favourites', found that two have now been sold, so we need to act quickly.  

We've made an offer on another, very different, house - a 1930's semi.  

It's funny how, when house-hunting, we started out with a list of 'vital' features. Then gradually, the more we search, the list has changed.  So, instead of going for a dormer bungalow, we've now put an offer on a three storey house ...  
After some bargaining, the offer's been accepted.  Our solicitor and selling agent have been informed and surveyor booked, so now we can go away for the weekend with a clear in-tray.

This house has plenty of room, the garden is long and interesting and faces south.  There are three and a half bedrooms, two bathrooms and plenty of parking.  It's on a main road so convenient for bus, pub and park but not alas near to a corner shop selling milk and papers.  
The kitchen is 'L' shaped, with part of the dining area having 'glass' roof, rather like a conservatory.  
Whether this'll be chilly in winter, we're not sure but if so we'll put on proper roof and attach a conservatory to the back.  The cats'll be pleased about this as, until we make arrangements for them they'll need to sleep in the shed or garage at night.

26 June: Large letter in the post regarding our sale, with various forms attached for us to fill out, regarding (a) what we're leaving behind (b) legal stuff (such as, who owns which boundaries, whether we've had problem with neighbours, any guarantees re windows, electrical work etc).  I presume it's easier for us to fill these out as it saves a great deal of our solicitor's time (therefore money).

We had a great weekend on the Isle of Wight (or Isle of Weight, as the food was excellent!).  The weather was kind, although rather blowy on Saturday.  That day I had a taster of line dancing (great fun) and ceroc dancing (ditto). 
This was followed by an interesting walk near Bembridge, looking at the Bembridge Limestone and Bembridge Marl, with a seam of Chalk running through the middle.  I picked up a lump of (presumably Bembridge) Clay off the beach and hope to make something with it to remember the weekend.  (see photo below: Bembridge Marl with line of grey clay at the bottom, spilling onto the beach)

Having studied the area for his thesis, the tutor was very knowledgeable, and patiently explained the geology of this part of the Isle of Weight, with particular emphasis on ways to combat coastal erosion  (See: http://www.coastalwight.gov.uk/ and http://www.dinosaurisle.com/geological_history.aspx).

4.55pm had a call from the surveyor to say he'd carried out the survey this morning and found various small problems which he'd be listing in his formal report.  They were to do with general upkeep of the property - slates off roof, guttering not adequate/secure, damp in kitchen floor, wiring needs attention.  He is going to investigate more to see how much this remedial work is likely to cost.  Perhaps it's what we should expect when the house has had tenants and the landlord hasn't been able to have access to carry out such work.  But we need to factor in the cost of this work when working out the cost.

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