13 April 2013

Diary of a House Seller - Part IX - Spring 2013

I never thought we'd get this far!  It's now three times that we thought we'd sold, twice nearly to exchange - but they all came to nought.

April 9:  We've been away for a few days and just returned to the reality that we're back to square one.   It's time to look closely at the house and see if it's deteriorated in the past few months.  There are a few places which need a touch of paint, the garden's nearly ready for it's Spring spruce-up (not quite, unfortunately, as the weather's forgotten that it's supposed to be spring).  

We need to pressure-wash the patio, repaint some outside walls and plant some suitable flowers.  One shrub has suffered badly with the inclement weather - no snow but lots of wind - so will need replacing.  Inside a lick of paint needed here and there and lots of tidying up, followed by a deep clean (or 'bottoming out' as they say 'up north').

Here are a few house selling tips I've read today: http://www.hgtv.com/real-estate/10-best-kept-secrets-for-selling-your-home/index.html.  The ideas include:
  1. Price it right, this takes courage but is sooo important.
  2. Have half-empty cupboards as storage is something every buyer is looking for.
  3. Maximise light: both natural and artificial.
  4. Hire the best agent for your property.
  5. Hide the animals (or rather evidence of them).
  6. Don't over upgrade (I viewed one property where every bedroom had it's own bathroom - and the owner was never going to get his money back)
  7. Make the house less personal, such as put away family photos.
  8. Make the kitchen as good as you can as kitchens and bathrooms sell a house (but see 6 above).
  9. Have the house ready-to-show at all times (difficult I know)
  10. First impressions are vital - especially the front garden and main door.

... and ideas from The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2010/may/11/selling-a-house-tips-top-price

12 April: We heard today that the house which we were purchasing, and had to pull out from as our house sale fell through, has now been sold. 
So it'll never be ours. I'm rather sad but on the plus side another suitable house has come on the market.  All we need to do now is sell this one ...  No wonder they say that house moving is very stressful!

14 May:  We've been away for a week's holiday but have missed nothing:  no viewings of the house. I popped into the agent yesterday who said that interest in big houses like ours comes in phases and that it was very quiet at present.  
I've now got to the point of thinking that we're here permanently and so it's time to get settled in again, unpack and get back into the usual activities.  
At least it's now the summer so we can go out and enjoy the local scenery and amenities; if only the weather would decide to 'buck up'.  It's rather chilly for the time of year, for instance today it's 8C when the average for the middle of May is more like 18C!  ... and it's raining - again.

10 May:  Beware.  How underhand technology is being used to sell homes: http://www.independent.co.uk/property/house-and-home/trust-me-im-an-estate-agent-how-underhand-technology-is-being-used-to-sell-homes-2155836.html and confessions of an estate agent: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/propertyadvice/8611016/Confessions-of-an-estate-agent.html

16 May:  Whilst we were out today a representative from a certain estate agent called here.  I rung them about this visit and was told that to sell this house would cost £7,500 plus VAT to which I replied that this was far too much - they responded with 'ah well, that's negotiable'!  Is it possible to put faith in a agent who doesn't even know how much they're prepared to charge to sell a house?

21 May: Just got back from being away again to a note from Haart estate agents - please contact them urgently re sale of our house.  Accordingly, I rung them even before I put the kettle on and unpacked.  It turned out that it wasn't urgent at all, so a complete waste of my time, they obviously hadn't noted that they'd been in contact before.  How do agents like that manage to run a business?!

22 May: Today's question: We have been with our present agent for a year now.  In that time he's sold the house three times which is pretty good going in the current housing market.  
Each time the purchaser has reached a certain stage and then be unable to proceed.  And each time it's been for a very good reason.

So ... how long is it worth staying with an estate agent?  Do they (understandably) lose interest after a few months?  Is the fact that we're still unsold after a year a reflection of the housing market or of the estate agent - or even of our house??

12 June:  Have had a busy couple of weeks as my daughter's just had her first baby and I've been up there helping. I'm absolutely exhausted, which reminds me why we generally have babies when we're in our 20s and 30s, rather than in our 60s!  I'd love to be up there more but with the housing market very slow in our price bracket we're not likely to be moving up there very soon.

So have investigated the cost of B&B or renting a house for flat until we sell and then live there whilst we find our next property.  This would enable us to advertise our house sale as 'no chain' which is always desirable.  

I estimate the cost of renting for a year would be a minimum of £10,000, including setting up costs, rent and bills.  One down side would be that any prospective landlord would not be happy at the place being empty part of the time, which is bound to happen as the idea would be to spend something like every other week there.  And when we do sell and move in permanently whilst we find our new property the cats would have to come too which landlords tend to frown upon.

So now we are thinking that perhaps it would be a good idea to buy a place with a small mortgage which would be covered by the rent on our flat here.   The house would need to be in a reasonable area as it could be empty for short periods of time.  Then eventually when we sell this house and move, the small house can be let out.

So now I have a mortgage agreed in principle which, with some savings, should be sufficient.  So, if no offers of this house appear in the next couple of weeks, when I go up again will investigate and see what is available.

Tiny two bedroomed semi-detached bungalow

14 June:  Looking at the houses for sale in the planned locations, it's either going to be a flat or a semi-detached bungalow.  There was one tiny cottage but there was no parking and shared access which wouldn't be too great.   Am not keen on a flat because of noise (mine or the other people's!), so a bungalow seems the best bet.  

I found several bungalows on the internet which were more or less within our price range.  I rang the agent re one and it's only for the over 55s.  This is OK as we are, of that age.  But apparently if we subsequently wanted to let it, there could be complications.

Another bungalow looked suitable, although just above our price range. I phoned the agent, who said: 'well the vendor has another house on the market (which is £30k more) and he wants to sell that first, and the house in which you're interested in not habitable.'  Well in that case I wonder why he's asking the agent to advertise both of the properties?

But there are still several which look promising, watch this space ...

18 June (nearly summer!):  Had a phone call this morning from our agent: would we like to go halves with him on a front page and page 3 spread (a Page 3 girl at last!)?   After a - very short - think agreed that it would be an excellent idea as this offer does not come up very often, with all the agents in the area vying for the front page every week.
So we have approved a nearly full-page photo of the property for the front page; inside there's an impressive photo of our view towards Torquay, also photos of the main living room, kitchen and the back garden.

Here's a link to the front page: https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=4f65e92b5e&view=att&th=13f58421c33a29c8&attid=0.1&d

Part of our wonderful view, looking towards Torquay
and to our Page 3: https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=4f65e92b5e&view=att&th=13f58421c33a29c8&attid=0.2&disp=inline&

Whether as a result of this special ad, or due to our agent's hard work, we have a viewing tomorrow and another one on Friday.  So have been very busy cleaning, tidying and doing all those odd jobs which get left as 'not urgent'.   So now the property's beginning to look good, almost too nice to sell and leave - but we must!

20 June: The first of the two viewers came today, and from talking to them I think that probably this is not the house for them.

Tomottow's Summer, so next time I write on here it'll be Part X, Summer 2013 ...

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