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 [ profile] alextfish and [ 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a few days I got one at X - £1000, but when I asked for a day to sleep on it and talk to my husband the offer was withdrawn on the grounds that I was "playing games".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.
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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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