Monthly Archives: October 2009

How to make a grown woman cry

So it’s started… solicitors, estate agents, HIPS, conveyancing…. nightmare!

The whole process has been a bit chaotic. From the over-priced storage, which was a saga in itself, to the estate agent who made me cry… it’s not all been good.

I’d packed everything into the wine boxes and it was good to go. I had my storage sorted with a lovely man who’d arranged some kind of special deal and I was good to go. Seemed a good day when Steve took the day off and we could do the moving. We managed all the boxes (an ideal shape for 4 deep 3 wide, which I think impressed Steve no end. He likes orderly things!). We got down to the storage facilities, which cannot do other than remind me of Silence of the Lambs, and started unloading. Then it got to paying. £17.85 a month for insurance. I coughed. I believed it was to be £2.00. £17.85 is more than my contents and building insurance combined. For a half-sized garage. I put my foot down. We negotiated it back down to the starting point.

Then I looked at the direct debit mandate. £141.00 a month. Not the previously agreed £80.00. A bit of a difference. This is more than my mortgage. Don’t weep if you have a big mortgage, you’ll soon realise my house is worthless. I took a deep breath and started arguing it back down. The mealy-mouthed scouser woman was unhappy. We haggled. Steve came in looking ‘Steveish’ and I knew then that this silly price was more than his Steptoe-frugality would cope with, even at £80.00. As they say in the News of the World, I made my excuses and left.

We’ve managed to get some of it into the bedroom at his house. It’s not good. It was bad enough already and now it’s even more cluttered. No Feng Shui or minimalism here. Plus, there’s still a lot here that needs doing.

Next, it was the garden. I could have paid an extortionate amount to get it done, or even got the lovely Charlie Brown from over the road to do it, but it’d still cost, so I called on The Mother and The Step-father. The Mother is a formidable woman, unable to say exactly what she thinks, but able to wither you with one sentence. She’s also a champion pruner/hacker/chopper/savage and she’s cheap. Come Sunday, she came round to chop back all my overgrown shrubs and mow my lawn, which still gains comments from small children about not having been mowed (In my defence, as much to do with the British weather and the broken lawn mower as it is to do with laziness…) With one phrase, she put me right in my place.

“Oh my goodness!”

It was enough. I just said: “Why don’t you say ‘Emma, your garden is a shit-tip. Sort it out!’ instead of anything more subtle?”

She laughed. Luckily. She’s used to my brutal approach with language and/or truth.

So, it was pretty much ready for the estate agents. I’d called on three. I’ve got it on good authority (Sarah Beaney) that three is a good number. The first was lovely. Looked a bit of an estate agent, to be fair, what with his slip-on shoes and streaked hair, but he saw exactly what I did in the property originally. It might be in the middle of Daubhill in Bolton, but it might as well be in a 1950s time zone. I’ve got the most amazing neighbours. I’m truly blessed. It doesn’t get luckier. Pete, Joanne, the Musas, Nancy – we’ve all been here for ages. Even Claire and Ian over the road, whilst they are very private, are totally lovely. It’s a good little house, close to town, but in a little oasis of calm. And he saw all of this.

Not so Mr. Bigshot ‘Company Director’. I’d only asked them because they share a surname with a friend of mine, which is serendipity. I believe in Kismet and serendipity, so I go with it. However, in this case, I was proved wrong. He was some old estate-agent type, with his big Rover and his grey suit. As soon as he was in, he was critical. He didn’t measure up. He didn’t seem bothered with anything I had to say. He told me I’d be lucky to get £85,000 for it, and they’d got one in Farnworth that was going for that, except it wasn’t selling…. blah blah blah. Basically, he seemed to be implying that if I put it on for £60,000 or so, I might get lucky and get a sale. Bad markets, etc. Everything he said rubbished my little castle. He said it was in a bad area, that there were untidy houses on the street detracting from the value (not counting the 20 or 30 or so at the bottom where it’s lovely…) that the markets were bad, that even on a good day, it’s not a good property. There are loads of others on for cheaper and better and bigger. It needed work (it’s 13 years old!) It needed a new kitchen (?!) The double glazing. soffits etc don’t count. My newly pruned garden was a ‘wilderness’, despite the fact there’s an awful lot of fantastic plants in there.

I cried after he went, and went to bed. I didn’t even wake up feeling better.

However, rightmove put me on the right track. They have fewer houses for sale, and none in this area. They do sell cheap, but don’t seem to be getting the sales. The ‘big three’ seem to have more houses in the area and from the guy who came to see me, I’d guess they’re a whole lot more pleasant and less pushy. If they can’t see the positives, how would they ever sell the property??

So… it’s with trepidation that I go with the highest sum on offer. I’m quietly confident that someone will see the good in it. And if not…. we’ve got a long wait.