A Prick Of The Conscience

Moving house, or attempting to, seems to elevate your waking state to a constant mild hum of stress, with occasional peaks. Mostly, I am just sick of people being in my house, be that for valuations, energy certificate surveys, viewings or as we had last week our buyer’s survey. Those with dogs will know the pain of corralling them away from visitors so they do not love them to death and potentially scare folks who don’t do well with dogs. It’s just all a bit of a faff.

From the second the surveyor left our house and we began the wait to hear the results, we did, of course, think that would return all sorts of negative stuff that would either reduce our sell price or completely scupper the sale. Our glass was on its side, rather than in any form of fullness, half or otherwise. We felt a little battered and bruised by the rough and tumble of the short process to date.

Last week I also spent a silly amount of time on the phone to the bank formally applying for our terrifying new mortgage. The chap from the bank now knows more about us and our spending habits than our immediate family. Again, we now await the decision of that jury. Waiting and stress. It’s just a lovely combination.

I don’t know when we might move. I guess there’s an outside chance of it being before Christmas should winds be blowing in the right direction and no hitches be encountered. Our estate agent has warned that the stamp duty exemption has created a spike in activity and solicitors are and will be busy so things may take a little longer than normal. For a process that is not known for its swiftness, this may mean we will have one last Christmas in our current house.

Of course, should the survey show our house was held together with sellotape and spit and was worth about £7.50, then the whole thing would be irrelevant and we’d be back to square one, just minus all the money we’ve now spent on surveys and other move-related things. Did I mention elevated stress levels?

Anyway, on Friday morning we received a phone call to confirm that our buyer’s mortgage offer had been issued, meaning that the survey was all good. This was good news of course and now meant that the harsh reality of moving was very likely a thing we’d have to actually go through with. Between now and then we will have to undertake one of THE biggest declutters the world has ever seen. Yesterday I began the enormous task of clearing out our cellar. Imagine a place where for eight years you have put stuff you don’t really need but don’t want to throw out. Well, now that has caught up with us and I’ll be rectifying it at length.

What I really need is some form of holiday or break to look forward to. Luckily I have such a thing booked for next March. How I am looking forward to that definitely going ahead.

I have to say that I have pretty much-made peace with the fact that this will not be happening. I would love to be convinced otherwise, but I cannot see anything that will significantly change between now and then. I do of course hope that very shortly the US gets a President who is not incompetent, deceitful and seemingly intent on killing his own citizens. If the US gets something like a plan in place that’s got to help, but it doesn’t fix our issues or open up the airways from the UK to the US.

Should we not be able to travel by March, I’m not sure what we will do. I suppose it will depend on the cancellation policies of the companies involved. I suppose we would rearrange to a later date again, mainly as I really fear for the future of many of these travel companies and want to spend some money with them to keep them viable for when this is all over, but the temptation to cancel the whole thing and come back to it when some form of normality is available is growing.

Florida seems to be doing OK if the published figures are accurate. I say OK, in the context of the number of deaths every day is stable as is the number of new cases. The theme parks seem safe, mainly as they are doing a good job of mask enforcement and social distancing. Maybe there’s a clue there for the rest of the world? Crowds are growing it seems, with Universal yesterday reporting that the parks hit capacity by mid-morning. Nobody really knows what capacity limits the parks are operating at, but with so little open in most parks, queues are long.

As that, of course, doesn’t look too enticing, some part of me thinks it would be better not to go in those circumstances, but another part of me would just like to be there.

The wild card in this game of holiday roulette is a vaccine but within the timeframes, we are working in, that seems unlikely. Would I have it? Yes. I suspect other countries might insist on incoming visitors having proof that they have done so, and for that and many other reasons, I would gladly endure the prick. However, I will not endure any prick who comes at me with anti-vax bollocks, and similarly that the COVID virus and resultant death toll is a hoax. Facebook is awash with “medical experts” spewing up this shite and if it’s not too much a contradiction, I wish a pox upon their collective houses.

I try not to let that make me too angry as it isn’t productive. These days, as you will know from my Twitter activity, there is much to bring despair and anger to daily life and the world is not in good shape. I keep that political stuff out of my blogs as nobody comes here for that. However, this week I am going to make an exception without apology. The decision to not provide food for kids who might need it over the school holidays was an abhorrent disgrace and I just needed to get that off my chest. How anyone can make peace with that is an absolute mystery to me. Sure, some parents are a bit shit, and maybe a few fit the Daily Mail stereotype of pissing their meagre funds away on iPhones, cigarettes and Sky, but even if that were true of the parents of every hungry child, how on earth is that the fault of the children? Honestly, if you can imagine any child in your life being truly hungry and without food and be able to imagine not doing whatever it takes to feed them, then please read another blog. Sigh…..

Let’s get back to more normal topics. For now, the whole house move thing is proving to be stressful, but in a way, a welcome distraction from fretting about the holiday every minute of every day. Even I have a limit as to how many things I can stress about at once.

As that house move shifts into the realms of reality, we are now confronting the “problems” of where all our stuff will go in the new place. This brings to light the lunacy of buying a house. It is odd, is it not, that the biggest purchase you are ever likely to make is decided upon within the few minutes you wander around a house. Now, as we have to think practically about what we will have and do in each room, I realise that I can’t actually remember most of the rooms in any detail. I say that as if I will have any input into those decisions. Of course, Louise will be doing that.

Let’s pull this meandering rant to a close with a collective wish for that vaccine. Ideally, all the medical experts from the Facebook comments section will be recruited into the teams trying to come up with a vaccine so that their undoubted expertise can speed things up.

Till the next time…..

Back In The Chain, Gang!

It’s funny how, when you look back on “horrible times” after they are all sorted, you then can’t really imagine or appreciate why you were such a worrywart/dick about the whole thing. Human nature I suppose.

Having sat and stressed all last weekend about our property predicament, Monday came……and then went without any progress from the potential buyer of our buyer’s house. He was still fannying about speaking to his mortgage advisor, Childline, The Samaritans and anyone else he could speak with to inject further delay before actually doing something crazy like making an offer on a property he wanted to buy.

On Sunday afternoon, I had contacted our estate agent to express my lack of confidence in this chap ever actually doing something and said that we should get our property back on the internet. We’d been holding off doing that as this chap was “really close” to making an offer and sorting the whole thing out. Having given him a week, it was time to do something. Louise might tell you that this was her idea, but don’t let her fool you.

So by tea time on Sunday, we were advertised again and we were feeling suitably annoyed that every house we went to view had 412 offers on it within seven minutes of being on the market and here we were still looking for a buyer who had a buyer, who had a buyer etc etc.

By early afternoon on Monday, we had a call to book a viewing in. So we did for that evening. I admit I had little to no hope of a new viewer being the saviour we needed but absolutely didn’t mind spending hours preparing the house again.

So, we tidied up, again, and got the house into a state that suggested nobody actually lived in it to make someone think they wanted to. Louise was working a late shift so Emily took the dogs out whilst I showed the couple round the house.

I made all the same small talk I had made on the other viewings, and did my best to sell them probably the most expensive thing they had ever bought in their lives to date. They made all the usual noises about it being lovely and off they went. My spirits were not soaring with hope and expectation. We were, I thought, still relying on “delay man” to rescue our chain.

Earlier that day, we had been told that our buyer’s buyer (delay man) had a final call with his mortgage chap at 10am on Tuesday after which he would know whether he could offer or not. Sigh.

Tuesday began and at 9.30ish my phone rang and as by now I know our estate agent’s number by heart, I knew it was them. Expecting another tale of delay and dither I answered with zero expectations.

They were calling with feedback from the viewing the day before. Apparently, the couple liked it. The tone of voice being used suggested an incoming but. However, the call took a mighty fine turn when they told me they wanted to make an offer and it turns out it was exactly the same offer we had accepted from the last ones to do a similar thing.

Joy, deep and long-lasting, flowed and it was only surpassed by a huge sigh of relief. I tried to call Louise, many times. I messaged her, many more times. She did not reply. This was not unusual as when she is at work she can often have her hands in places that do not facilitate them handling a phone. However, this went on all day and the news that she had waited over a week for could not be delivered because, as I would discover when she got home, she had left her mobile in our bedroom!

Even when she returned home, I was then on endless work calls, and it was only an hour later that I was finally able to tell her the good news and a large dark cloud lifted from over us. For now (I do recognise, these are early days in this process) we had a buyer, a chain and no reason to think we would lose the house we were hoping to buy.

As much as I overshare all sorts of crap all over the internet and have for years (Louise still berates me for the Vagisil episode from a trip report a million years ago), I’m not going to post a link to the property we hope to buy here. It may, of course, all fall to pieces as the UK property market seems to exist as a deck of cards that the slightest tremor can destroy but it feels a bit crass to be doing stuff that could be a bit “braggy” when no doubt many folks are struggling at the moment.

We have been incredibly fortunate that the pandemic has not impacted us financially and we have been able to carry on with our long-held plans to upgrade the house a bit. I will though, share a couple of photos so you get an idea of what it’s like.

I guess now we can now claim to be truly middle class as we will have an Orangary!

And that, as I believe they say, is where the magic will happen!

Again, let me attempt to keep the evil forces of bad luck away by stating that we have a long way to go until we know for sure that we’ll be living there, but compared to this time last week, we feel better about it.

Typically the house we are hopefully getting does not fit the exact criteria that we set out as essential when we started this process. It shows that house buying is more of an emotional thing than a logical one. Firstly it is over budget and secondly, it doesn’t have a few of the things that we thought would be deal-breakers.

Ultimately it felt right and struck us as a really lovely family house that would serve us well for the next stage of our lives that will hopefully be filled with grandkids and rats (Emily has expanded her rat family again this week!). It is also within the geographic boundaries that we wanted to be in so that we can still be close enough to our parents to help them out and borrow DIY tools from my Dad.

If nothing else, the endless stress and occasional joy of this process have distracted us from the endless shitshow of the pandemic. My “are we going on holiday in March meter” is at rock bottom. I just do not see what will change by March that will see holiday travel being allowed again. That then leads into a spiral of doom, as that scenario may well be terminal for airlines and theme parks. So, with that in mind, I hope you can forigve the indulgent smugness of talking about spending some cash on a house.

Till the next time…….

Unchained Malady

In the context of “first world problems” and “others have it far worse”, last week was an absolutely unmitigated shit show of epic proportions.

Before anyone gets worried that anything serious has happened. Not really. It’s all house related, and as this has been the entire focus of my last week, it is, therefore, the most important topic on the planet. My self-awareness is only matched by my self-pity.

I am reluctant to retell events here as it will only enhance my PTSD, but I suppose as this stuff isn’t over, then I can drop the P from that. As we ended last weekend, and at this point, I am struggling to piece together all the events in some sort of accurate order, I think I was telling you about some offers we had made on some houses.

So these offers we made. On one property we had already offered significantly over asking last Saturday afternoon to “get it off the market”. I’ve watched a few Location, Location, Locations over the years. That failed completely of course and the vendor, being the most avaricious vendor on the planet, went to “best and final”. This irked me and this probably reflected in my less than enthusiastic best and final, which was almost “shove it up your arse”. We were not successful in that process.

That house was always plan B to honest so nil desperandum, we just needed to know if our other over asking price offer might be accepted. Monday dragged on endlessly without news, so I called the agent around lunchtime. What do you mean I may be impatient? I was told that they had spoken to the vendors and they felt it “likely” that they would accept our offer, but the lady needed to talk to her husband about it.

It’s hard to express our frustration at this point. We made the offer at 9.45 on Saturday morning. Had they been locked in separate rooms ever since?

So we went back to waiting. About an hour later my phone rang and it was an estate agent. Not the one I was waiting to hear from, but instead, ours.

They delivered the bombshell that our buyer had lost their buyer. The feeling of a thousand rugs being pulled from under us was mixed with a kick in the goolies. This was not good.

As we came to terms with that and spoke with our agent about what we could do to resolve the situation, my phone rang again, and in an expected ironic twist, our offer had been accepted on THE house Louise had fallen in love with and the one we both agreed was the first choice. Sigh.

So the race was on to reconstruct our chain. We had more viewings booked pretty much immediately, including a second viewing yesterday from someone who saw it on the one previous day we did viewings. We are waiting for feedback and maybe an offer from that second viewing (the estate agents are of course closed today), but all week, we have been more invested in the sale of someone else’s house than you could ever imagine.

Our buyer has had lots of viewings. As they are selling via the same agent as us, and they clearly want to sort out us and them, they have been updating us on their progress. They have had many viewings and one potential buyer has been tantalisingly close to making an offer since Wednesday. Every day, we ring our agent, hopeful and expectant that this nightmare of limbo and risk of losing our house might be over. Every day, there is one more delay and reason that the offer, whilst still expected, has not been made.

Apparently, there are historic issues with the property, that have now been rectified, but the potential buyer understandably wanted all the documentation for that and to do their own checks. How very selfish of them. That is now complete and they just now need to check their mortgage company are happy with that before making an offer. Sigh.

The time window to resurrect our chain is short before we lose the house on which our offer has been accepted. It’s a form of torture. In the very short time we have been involved in this moving house thing, everything that could go wrong has, aside from getting our offer accepted of course. To think this is just the beginning of the process, and we are stumbling over this first hurdle multiple times, horrifies me.

As I have tried to recount the events of last week, I’m not even sure what happened on which day anymore and I have without doubt, and mercifully for you, left out a lot of agonising, moaning, self-pity and swearing.

Still, as often happens, the universe in its infinite wisdom balances things out. Whilst it clearly takes away on the moving house thing, yesterday, to make sure my week really couldn’t get any worse it also gave back. I thought I would weigh myself. Lockdown has not been filled with exercise and healthy eating so the damage will be significant. Bracing myself for the worst, I pulled the scales out, blew the dust from them, like Indiana Jones would from some relic not seen for a thousand years, and stood on them.

Knowing that my tolerance for disaster has been fully expended for one week, the God of self preservation stepped in and the scales told me that I weighted Lo. My weight hasn’t been “Lo”…….well, ever, so that was good news right? The battery running out at that moment was clearly a guiding hand from some higher being, preventing me from spiralling into some nose dive depression. Now, all I have to decide is whether I buy another battery and confront reality or just keep getting bigger T Shirts from the denial store. One battle at a time right?

So next week promises to go one of two ways. Tomorrow, our buyer gets a new offer and our chain is repaired and we can all put this nonsense behind us. Alternatively, that could turn to dust and we lose our house and you have to fear for next week’s post. For all sakes, cross your fingers.

Till the next time……