With 30 sitting gloomily on the horizon, I decided I should probably be a grownup and upgrade the flat. I’ve arranged a mortgage in principle (argh) and we’ve just got to the viewing stage of the business.
First viewing was on Friday, and I’d made an offer on a house by noon on Saturday.
Is this normal?
To be honest, something similar happened with the flat. It was the first place we saw, I liked it, so we took it. I guess I’m just not a shopper-arounder. It just seems rather foolish to me to hope blindly for something you might like more when there’s already something you like right in front of you.
Your time, after all, has a value – probably greater than hours and days spend tromping futilely around properties, seeking the one that is just a little bit cheaper, a little bit more like your dream.
Or, again, maybe that’s wrong-thinking. I mean, you’re spending such an awful lot of money on a house, maybe it is worth seeking the absolute platonic ideal of houseness and cheapness available for your price range.
Alexis Hall: stop thinking.
The house we saw on Friday, while not being awful, was not great. I like it because it was all period, H disliked it because it was all period and thus immensely tiny. Also it had some strange extensions going on – what is it with bathrooms on the ground floor, seriously? Who wants to go through their kitchen to use the shower? There was, in fact, no danger of me ever ever buying it, fireplaces and beams aside, and we came away strangely depressed because it was quite expensive, not remotely what I wanted and felt like a massive step-down from the flat.
We rocked up on Saturday for the second viewing only to be met with an enormous “sold” sign outside the house in question which was slightly disconcerting. But the agent explained us to with a slightly grim look in his eyes that an offer had been accepted but there was absolutely nothing in place and it was looking like it was going to fall through so if we wanted to make any offer … we … y’know … hint hint.
Anyway, I completely the loved the place. It doesn’t look like much on the outside but it’s well-cared for and basically completely splendid, full of light and character. And, yes, there were period fireplaces. There’s even this little loft/study conversion thingy that I immediately had dreams of writing in. It’s also tucked away down a little side-street so it has all the advantages of being within walking distance from the centre of town, and a bunch of useful amenities, while being blissfully quiet.
Also the street shares the name of one of my favourite poets. I fear that influenced me far more than it should have.
But it is fate, I tell.
H is not keen on the epic garden and made dire grumblings about it. But this is because He has a mind of metal and wheels and does not care for growing things.
I can learn to do gardening … right? Plant shit. Mow shit. How hard can it be?
(Also think of the summer parties! Pimms … in my GARDEN)
Anyway, I shouldn’t get too invested because there’s a pretty high probability they won’t accept my offer. I unfortunately can’t meet the asking. Well, I could but it would involve living on beans post mortgage payment, so it’s not worth it.
The other thing I find slightly disconcerting about house buying is that it seems to be another one of those activities in which the expectation is you’ll behave like a pick-up artist.
I do not like activities in which the expectation is that I’ll behave like a pick-up artist. I ran into a similar problem a few years back when I tried to renew my mobile phone contract. The terms had expired, I rang up the company, explained very politely that I wanted a better deal, they said no, I said all right, then I’ll be terminating the contract, they said fine. I terminated the contract, took up a new contract with a different company who were willing to negotiate with me. The former company then rang me up in what seemed to be genuine horror, offering me pretty much everything under the sun to stay with them. I pointed out that I’d already got a new contract that suited me very well and that this was all a bit late, and then they gave me a free phone I didn’t want for a year.
It was a deeply surreal experience. I discussed it later with a friend of mine who’s a head hunter (that is, of investment bankers, not literally heads) in London and quite invested in the whole corporate blah deal thing. He thinks I’m, in general, a tremendous waste of time – but, weirdly, we’re still friends. And he said the fault was mine because I failed to play the game properly. I explained that I didn’t want to play games, I just wanted a mobile phone contract. Whereupon he just wagged a sententious finger at me and repeated: “You have to play the game.”
And I remember thinking: why? Why do I have to play the game? Wouldn’t everything be better if people didn’t, in fact, play games over the banalities of life? Don’t get me wrong, I love games but I think they should come with either dice or rope (in an ideal world, dice AND rope). You shouldn’t be expected to non-consensually transact them with 02.
Based on all the advice I have read/received on the subject, it seems to me that buying a house could very easily go the same way. And that’s just pick-up artistry. You start off negging the house, to lower its self-esteem so it might be willing to sleep with you in a fit of self-loathing, then you play it cool to make the house work for your attention, finally you put in an insultingly low offer to increase your own value as a lover … err … house buyer.
As it happened, I did none of this. I openly loved it. Then put in what I thought was a reasonable offer. Perhaps this was foolish but I guess I’ll find out.
(Although H’s parents excitedly turned up on the doorstep this morning and made us walk them up and down in front of the house – so possibly the owners now believe me to be a crazy stalker).