It didn’t happen to us overnight.
Just ’cause it happened doesn’t mean it’s right –
To our embarrassment we lost the fight
To rule the world with love.
As some may be aware, we’ve finally managed to scrape together enough money to finally get a mortgage and buy somewhere of our own. No mean feat in London – the flat just below ours went recently for a cool £335k. A third of a million pounds! for a flat that has a single double bedroom, a tiny box for a second bedroom and a kitchen barely big enough to swing a cat in!
No, we’re looking somewhere a little less pricy. Somewhere we can get a 3-bedroom house given the kind of deposit we’ve got saved up. So far we’ve had appointments to view three houses, on a rainy Saturday.
About an hour before
*ring ring* “Hello there, it’s the estate agent for <address> here. I’m dreadfully sorry but the vendor’s having to cancel your viewing; her children are sick”.
Fair enough, a bit more notice might have been fine, but understandable. Skip ahead to:
Setting off in the car with an hour to get there (should be a 30-minute drive) we eventually find the place and are 5 minutes late. From the outside, the house looks OK. I ring the bell. After no reply for several minutes, I knock instead. The vendor answers, and immediately I’m taken aback. He’s still wearing his threadbare dressing gown, in the mid-afternoon, and even in that he looks scruffy. I’m here to look at the house, I remind myself. Unfortunately the house isn’t any more impressive than its current owner. It’s a victorian semi-detached, and while on the outside looks to be in good nick, the inside is a different story. The place doesn’t seem to have been decorated in years, and even when it had been, it’s paint that’s been thrown over the old wallpaper. At the joins with the ceiling, the paper’s coming away, probably caused by damp. The extension at the back, containing a kitchen and a bathroom, shows signs of a leaking roof, and the way it’s been built means the dining room gets no light.
Upstairs is pretty much the same. More signs of peeling wallpaper, I can’t even get in the third bedroom to take a decent look at it, there’s so much stuff been shoved in there, but from what I can see there’s little to convince me the place is worth the cash. It reminds me of the sorts of houses we used to rent back when we were students and couldn’t afford any better. The vendor tells me he’s had it on the market for “a couple of months”. Google disagrees, and I now understand why. Maybe if he dropped the price by 20% he might, just might, stand a chance. A few notes in the notebook, to the effect of “no chance” (a shame because on paper it looked excellent) and we make our merry way to:
Is a couple of miles from appointment 2, so we end up arriving 30 minutes early. Not a problem, though, the vendor is out and we’re meeting the estate agent. We park up and given we’re so early, take a walk around the neighbourhood. It seems OK, mixture of older terraces and a few newer builds, people looking after their gardens. And then the heavens open, and so, soaked to the bone, we sit in the car, shivering, waiting for the estate agent to turn up. In some bizarre act of karma, he’s late this time – though when he turns up, having phoned ahead, he apologises and shows us the house.
It’s the same asking price as the last one, but what a huge difference. Well looked-after, no obvious signs of anything problematic. It’s a house we can imagine ourselves living in, so I’ll be asking for further details from his office on Monday (though I didn’t say so at the time). The only two problems – it’s near a busy road (though even at the end of the garden the noise wasn’t too bad) and the train will take about 45 minutes to get to central London. I can live with those.
Come Friday, I’m going to see some more. And I’m sure I’ll have more tales of the weird to share…
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