liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
[personal profile] liv
So I'm trying to move to Cambridge to live with [personal profile] jack, even though I still work in the Midlands. Today I finally managed to sell the house where I was living until February, so that's tangible progress towards the shape of life I want.

I moved to the campus flat mid-February. That part has worked out very well. The flat is small and a little shabby, and there's no shower and the kitchen is really, really badly laid out, even considering how small it is. But in spite of that, I'm finding it really comfortable to have crash space ten minutes walk from work, and not have the responsibility of upkeep on a place I'm almost never in. I've managed to make things work in terms of fitting in to the space, a challenge which was very much helped by getting a cheapish wardrobe from Argos, which [personal profile] jack helped me build.

I'm also finding it very good to default to spending weekends in Cambridge, and duplicating at least some of my stuff over there so that I don't have to carry everything back and forth. Working from home in Cambridge during times when I don't have teaching or meetings is going ok too; in many ways it's nice to have a clear separation between days when I'm available and days when I get on with things uninterrupted. There have been periods when I don't make it to Cambridge very much, or just flying visits at weekends, but those are ok too, and I generally know when there's going to be weeks like that. My social life is already better; just a couple of Thursday evening pubmeets or geek pizza or board games at [livejournal.com profile] alextfish and [livejournal.com profile] woodpijn's has made me feel a lot more settled and connected than I did the past couple of years. And we have been able to invite people to dinner and bridge and low-key parties, though not as much as we're hoping once we're eventually settled in the new place.

So ok, that bit of the plan is going well. Stage 2 was selling my old house in Stoke. I put it on the market in mid-March, and pretty much instantly got offers. Some were way below what I was hoping to get, so I said no, then within a few days I got one at X - £1000, but when I asked for a day to sleep on it and talk to my husband the offer was withdrawn on the grounds that I was "playing games". I'm glad because in the end the next day I was offered the asking price, and accepted. There followed the usual and expected couple of months of the buyers doing a survey and carrying out the conveyancing searches, as you'd expect. Then they basically disappeared from about the start of May to the middle of June. Finally they got back to me saying that they wanted to complete on 16th July, which was a lot later than I'd hoped, but even worse, they wanted me to rely on a completely verbal promise that they would in fact be buying my house on this date, they weren't willing to exchange contracts.

This seemed a bit unreasonable to me, because I had absolutely no surety that the deal would go ahead. I tried to persuade them to exchange contracts straight away and agree the completion date as per normal proceedings in England, but they flat refused. They said things like they weren't sure exactly when their money would be available and didn't want to pay penalties if they were late. I felt very annoyed about this because I really didn't see why I should have to bear all the risk, there's a reason why we exchange contracts on a deposit and have penalties on agreed completion dates! There was this weird stand-off where neither side really had any negotiating power. We both stood to lose a lot if the deal fell through, because we'd both have to start the whole long and expensive process again from scratch. And I seriously considered telling the potential buyers to get lost, since I was putting my whole life on hold on the assumption that they would in fact complete when they said they would, but had absolutely no way of knowing whether they would. The estate agents advised me that in their judgement these people, although awkward, were a better prospect than putting the house back on the market. So anyway, I let myself be out-stubborned by them in the end, and I heard this morning that they did in fact pay me the purchase price as promised, so the sale has completed.

I'm annoyed by the behaviour of the buyers, honestly. They made me an offer on condition that I would take the house off the market, which I readily went along with, because they very strongly implied that the deal would be completed fairly quickly. But then they randomly held me up for over three months, and refused to actually make a fair deal, as far as I can gather because doing things this way saved them a few hundred pounds at the expense of me being stuck in this limbo of not knowing whether the house would sell or not. In hindsight, I might have done better keeping the house on the market and waiting for a better offer, which is perfectly legal in English law but I consider gazumping a bit morally dubious, so I refrained. It's also unlikely I'd actually have got much more money, because the asking price was right at the stamp duty threshold.

Meanwhile [personal profile] jack and I made an offer on a place we want to buy in north Cambridge in mid-April. The slightly painful thing is that this house is smaller and less shiny than the one I've sold, and we're paying nearly twice what I got from my sale. But hey, that's Cambridge. Everything seemed to be going smoothly at first, we did a survey which looked very positive, our searches proceeded at a fairly normal pace, not particularly fast but not especially slow either. However, having got to the end of the searches, again, the vendors have kind of disappeared and aren't really willing to negotiate about a completion date. I think they are basically honest and people of good will, from what I can tell, but they are in the process of trying to buy somewhere to move to and are rather hoping that they can coordinate their purchase with their sale to us. This is again annoying because they advertised the house as having no onward chain; this was literally true at the time because they chose not to start househunting until they'd accepted an offer on the place they were selling, but I still feel like morally we are now in a chain situation contrary to what was claimed.

Obviously, it's not at all in the vendors' interests to actually let us know if it's still going to take another several months, it's much better for them to stall until they can get their purchase sorted, keeping us hanging on believing that it might all happen "soon". I don't know at what point we should go to them and say, look, either you exchange contracts within the next couple of weeks or we're pulling out. And we're really lucky that [personal profile] jack's landlord is a friend and he's not awkwardly caught between rental contracts.

All I can say is, I'm really, really looking forward to not being in the middle of house sale limbo. And I wish that English property law were even a tiny bit sensible, because this is just no way to run a housing market.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-16 12:19 pm (UTC)
lovingboth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lovingboth
The estate agents advised me that in their judgement these people, although awkward, were a better prospect than putting the house back on the market.

Of course they did, because to an estate agent £x thousand in commission now is better than the possibility of £x.1 thousand at some point in the future.

I'm annoyed by the behaviour of the buyers, honestly. They made me an offer on condition that I would take the house off the market

.. and they should have paid something for that.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-16 12:33 pm (UTC)
jack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jack
In hindsight, I might have done better keeping the house on the market and waiting for a better offer, which is perfectly legal in English law but I consider gazumping a bit morally dubious, so I refrained.

In hindsight, I should have suggested waiting a few weeks for offers to come in before accepting an offer, and gambling that they wouldn't withdraw it before then. Or when you accepted the offer, given a specified timeline and said "if we haven't completed by then, the house is back on the market" (but not necessarily refused to continue the purchase if the buyers got their act in gear at that point). But I didn't really know what to expect. But it doesn't really matter any more, even if we only had a purchase go 80% right, not 100%, we can't expect to be Most Perfect Theoretical Possible House Sellers immediately, that's still a WINSUCCESS, and we get to be all proud of ourselves for getting it done *hugs* *hugs*

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-16 03:09 pm (UTC)
kerrypolka: Contemporary Lois Lane with cellphone (Default)
From: [personal profile] kerrypolka
even if we only had a purchase go 80% right, not 100%, we can't expect to be Most Perfect Theoretical Possible House Sellers immediately

I think this is an excellent point!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-16 04:25 pm (UTC)
jack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jack
It's like those "letters with advice you wish you could give to your younger self", except I wish that I could send that advice to ALL of me at ALL ages, past AND present AND future :)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-16 01:06 pm (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
The whole situation is a terrible mess. Also dear vendors - "chain free" does not mean "we haven't picked a place yet" it means "we are not trying to co-ordinate a purchase with this sale". Muppets.

(alas the only way to avoid chains would be to establish a general principle of people selling their houses moving into short-term rental places before buying; which is just so much house-moving pain that no-one wants to do it)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-16 01:31 pm (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
I think you spend longer saying "um, maybe? but we haven't got a buyer yet and argh" before offering if offering means "agreeing to a date". I do agree that offering should me "agreeing to actually go through with it and not pull out" though, because it is all SO ANNOYING.

Sometimes I wish I was buying a house, but mostly when I think about the actual process I'm glad I'm not.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-16 04:01 pm (UTC)
emperor: (Default)
From: [personal profile] emperor
The Scottish systems helps a bit with chains, because it's much less likely for a link in the chain to collapse at the last minute.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-16 03:21 pm (UTC)
hollymath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hollymath
And I wish that English property law were even a tiny bit sensible, because this is just no way to run a housing market.

I wholeheartedly agree! I do not want to move house ever again; it was bad enough buying one -- having to sell it and buy another sounds like it should be illegal under the Geneva Convention.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-16 04:47 pm (UTC)
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
From: [personal profile] hilarita
Glad it worked out ok!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-16 08:50 pm (UTC)
sunflowerinrain: Singing at the National Railway Museum (Default)
From: [personal profile] sunflowerinrain
House selling-and-buying is so often a nightmare because people are shifty and/or solicitors are lazy. I used to like the Scottish system, and then it was changed to be more like the English!

Hope it's safely sorted now.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-16 09:09 pm (UTC)
nanila: me (Default)
From: [personal profile] nanila
The house-selling/buying process in this country is insane and maximally stress-making and I can't quite believe I've been through it voluntarily twice now.

Best of luck. I think threatening to pull out of the exchange is an entirely viable option with estateweasels even if you don't mean it.
From: (Anonymous)
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