Hot on the heels of last weeks post regarding the trials and tribulations of selling your home, I thought it was rather timely to add a few thoughts about looking for a property that you potentially want to buy.
Although quite an exciting process, finding a new home can also be fraught with uncertainty. For example, the first house that we decided to view was lovely. I explained to the estate agent that our property was on the market but was not yet sold. A look of concern swept across his face prompting me to ask ‘do people usually house hunt BEFORE they have sold their property…is this a bad idea…what is the norm…shall I get my coat?’
He was an older chap and had probably been in the estate agency business for quite some time – he smiled knowingly at me, as if he had had this question asked a thousand times – ‘there is no norm’ he said rather smugly, ‘selling and buying a home is a tricky business’. Panic stations! My tendency for total fuss-pottery when it comes to having questions answered with something absolute (and basically what I want to hear) was not coping very well right now!
That particular house had an offer made on it that day (not by us) and was accepted. Darn it! We fell at the first hurdle and realised that perhaps looking for a house that we want to buy before we had sold our current house was not the best idea. BUT, what if we didn’t start looking until we had sold and couldn’t find anything that we liked? We might end up homeless…I would have failed my children! Then comes the guilt…there are people out there who really are homeless. Get. A. Grip. These circular conversations were starting to keep me awake at night…when on earth is the right time to look?
A family meeting was called forthwith and the decision was made to continue looking for and viewing properties we liked whilst our home was on the market…but perhaps without the same level of obsessive desperation that had led us to this meeting in the first place. They (my family, including the dogs and cat) all looked at me when the discussion regarding ‘rightmove preoccupation’ aka ‘RP’ (as in ‘I’ve had a disturbing case of the old RP all day long love’) was had??!!
So the pursuit of our new home continued. Like most folk looking for a new home we have a list of things that we would like (good sized garden, shed/outhouse, 3-4 bedrooms, village setting) and things that we don’t (not near a main road is basically our only ‘don’t like’). With these things in mind, we tentatively began the search. Again.
After one glorious Sunday afternoon of browsing through ‘Rightmove’ (did I mention how much I love rightmove?!), we decided on a handful of houses that we wanted to view. They were all very different and non of them ticked ALL of our boxes, but given our budget we had quickly realised that all boxes were unlikely to be ticked and that there would have to be a compromise somewhere along the way – we were and are ok with this as all of the properties that we have showed an interest in had something positive to offer our family.
The first property that we viewed was a cottage in a small village. Beautifully decorated and retaining many of its original features. The outside garden area was sizeable and peaceful and had a brilliant outhouse that had been beautifully maintained to provide an office/work space. I was in love. We all liked it, but there was one hitch. At 6’6, my husband stands rather tall. He was barely able to get into the bathroom (which had no shower as it was too small) and found the upstairs area quite claustrophobic. I joked that I liked this house so much ‘I would consider swapping my husband for a shorter one’ – there were a few embarrassed smirks. We went home.
People say houses are just bricks and mortar, but to me they are so much more than that.
The second property was perfectly located in the heart of our favourite village, in a peaceful spot with perfect views, ample off street parking and a huge garden. However, the property itself was a bungalow (which I never thought I would have considered – not sure why?! Any bungalow lovers reading this?) and had not really been touched since it was built in the 1930s. The current owner was a gentleman in his 90s who had recently moved into a nursing home. I felt sad as I wandered the property – his reading glasses were still sat on an open book next to an armchair in the living room, and his shoes were all lined up next to his bed. Family photos from decades ago adorned the fireplace. This process felt voyeuristic and it made me feel uncomfortable. This was someones home, someones life and knowing that they were not here, not by choice, but because they had reached the end of life, made me feel melancholy.
I felt quite overwhelmed by this and started to think about our current home that we were trying to sell and all of the memories that were wrapped up there. People say houses are just bricks and mortar, but to me they are so much more than that. As we viewed the bungalow, I was transported to a different era and could almost feel the experiences of another family that were hidden in these walls. I tried to imagine us living here and that the older gentleman who had always lived here was happy that a family would be able to enjoy this space as much as perhaps he once had. The bungalow would have needed a lot of work and a loft conversion to accommodate my family of 5 humans and 3 pets. As I was pondering these possible adjustments the chap showing us around revealed that an offer had been made on the property that morning. We later found out the offer had been accepted. I don’t think this was the house for us, but I do hope that whoever ends up there felt the warmth and sense of family that I did.
The third house was very similar to our current victorian home. The space occupied 3 floors and had enormous bedrooms and high ceilings (no need for me to trade my husband in for a shorter model – yey!). We really love victorian properties for these very reasons. However, there’s always a catch, there was no parking and it had a very small shared garden. We decided that perhaps this wasn’t for us – but the house was on for a really good price and was perfectly located. What do we do? Two days later, an email arrived to say that this house had sold. Grrrr! Please someone, come and buy my house, so that WE can be the ones putting in the offers…
The fourth and final house that we have viewed to date was a new build (well, 10 years old). It is unlike what we would normally go for but it was well located and had off street parking and a gorgeous garden and 4 bedrooms. Again, the house was lovely, but as with many new builds, the rooms seemed super small compared to the enormous victorian ones that we had been spoilt with. It was also over our budget, so we politely viewed the property and then went home, put the kettle on and logged back into Rightmove…
So, the search and the sale continue. It does not surprise me that moving house is considered to be one of the most stressful life events that you can do. I do however recognise that so much of that stress is within my control. I can’t decide when someone will buy my house, but I can choose to be patient and optimistic about the process. I can’t decide when exactly we will stumble across a perfect new home and have a very reasonable (if not super low) offer accepted, but I can choose to stay positive and view all possibilities with an open mind. Wish me luck!
We do not by any stretch of the imagination have a fortune to spend on a house (and accumulating a deposit has come down to a decade+ of waiting and spending time and money on improving our current home in order to sell it at a profit), that said, I do realise that we are in a privileged position to be able to buy our own home – so I’ll end with my favourite of hashtags to sum up this post…