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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Citizen Me: House Hunting

The renovation project was more or less complete by the end of 1984. Living there was always considered temporary and practical. There was a great deal of work that The Man wanted to do to the property and it was much easier to do this by living on site. However, it was not ideal for all of us and we often found ourselves checking out the property market in the hopes of finding something that would suit us and be within our budget.

I found a house that seemed to be ideal for us. It was in the next block and was described as a town centre detached Victorian house. The photograph looked promising. I walked passed the house on the way to pick up son Andrew from school and to me it looked perfect.  The Man and I talked it over and we made an appointment to view.

I fell in love with the house as soon as I walked in the door. In the kitchen was a bay window looking out over the garden the apple trees were in bloom and the original brick garden wall was still standing. I was enchanted!

The house had been divided into two apartments. Upstairs had been converted into a place for the owner's two aunts, but no one had lived there for some time. On the half-landing was the owner's art studio. But it would not be too difficult to return the house to its original state as a family home. The Man had a surveyor look the property over and the findings were problematic. There was rot in the beams under the shower room on the ground floor.

However, the problem was not so extensive that it was beyond acceptable. We made an offer and the sale was agreed. The following week I was to make my first trip to the States in 5 years. The Man explained that we would be away for 3 weeks to the vendor and he assured us that it was not a problem. I was able to take lots of photographs for the benefit of my family when I saw them. I will always remember the look on my sister's face when I showed her the pictures.  She said, "Oh, Sis, you really deserve this"! She and her husband had  visited us the previous Fall of 1984.

The day after our return to the UK, The Man went to see the owner to finalize the process.

When he returned home he was crestfallen... Imagine his surprise when he rang the doorbell and a complete stranger opened the door. He explained to The Man that he was the new owner! In the three weeks we had been away these people had bought the house and moved in! We were too shocked to even be upset! I still don't quite understand how the change-over was able to happen so fast. I suspect we may have been used to 'hedge their bets'. We had even informed the Estate Agents that we had made an offer and that it had been accepted, but we received not one word from them to indicate that the house had been sold or was even under offer.

It was going to take me a long time to get over my disappointment. But then life has a way of coming up trumps -- just when you least expect it!

16 comments:

  1. Wow. What a terrible bummer.

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    1. I must admit, 'bummer' is a very good word here!

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  2. I'm fascinated by that last line. It sounds so hopeful.

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  3. I know real estate trading legislation and practice differ from country to country, but I find this bizarre! Where I live, real estate agents often have their parentage questioned, but I believe if anything like this should happen here, one or other party would be legally culpable. What was the role of the real estate agent if it wasn't to make the offer and acceptance legally binding? Like Stephen, I hope the last line of your post indicates a happy ending.

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    1. Real Estate legislation in the UK is dire -- for both the buyer and the seller. But in this case it did not help that we were about to leave for three weeks. If we had come back and the vendor had said -- sorry while you were gone someone came and made an offer, etc. etc. we would have understood, been disappointed but not shocked. The fact that in three weeks there had been a complete turnover -- that was a shock!

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  4. Hello Katherine:
    Oh, this must have been devastating, especially as you had been living in such awful circumstances for so long. And, it does seem extraordinary that everything was managed so quickly as, in our experiences, buying and selling property in the UK takes the best part of a lifetime!! Not so in Hungary......once an agreement is made, then it is yours!!!

    But, what a tease you are to leave us on tenterhooks about what is to happen next!!

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    1. We were so shocked that we couldn't talk about it -- not because we were avoiding the subject -- there were just no words!

      A tease? Me? ;-)

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  5. How rotten! i think you are right that you were being used to hedge the bets. Estate agents are still pretty shifty - beats me why the law has not been changed here to avoid all the endless unnecessary hassles that attend house buying.

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    1. What's surprising is that other parts of the UK seem to be able to contend with the issues that plague buyers in the UK.

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  6. A shock to be sure. Hardly seems possible. But yes, your ending is hopeful. As Maria said, when a door closes, sometimes a window opens.

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    1. It all worked out for the best -- in the end...

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  7. Poor Broad, how rotten for you at the time. But at least you didn't have the rotten beams to deal with and all did indeed work out for the best. :-))

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  8. Oh yes -- you are so right about that!

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Receiving comments is a joy and I thank you all for taking the trouble and showing your interest. Makes me feel all gooey and stuff!