We bought this house having never stepped foot inside. Well that’s not entirely true, we had stepped one foot inside. We stood just inside the conservatory door and all I could see was the parquet floor in the living room.
Demand outstrips supply in our village and an estate agent once told us that 75% of the properties here exchange hands privately. A look at sold prices on Rightmove supports this. Our sale was no exception. We’d been waiting for somewhere to buy here for nearly 5 years.
Every year there’s a village open gardens event which is a great excuse to have a nosey round people’s properties and/or scope out potential opportunities to buy houses. The day before, I was walking the dog and noticed a poster on a telegraph pole advertising the open gardens on which someone had scrawled “& house for sale” with the house number.
It was hard to ascertain much from the street as this was high summer and the foliage around the house was thick but I could see that it was worth investigating. The head of a cul de sac position at the top of the hill was appealing. Back home, we checked out the aerial view on google maps and saw the plot was a decent size and the garden was west facing.
The morning of the open gardens, we headed round early and found a lady at the gate, I assumed she was the owner, but she turned out to be another interested party. The actual owner appeared and said we could have a look around the garden but she preferred not to have anyone in the house as they were clearing out and it wasn’t ready for viewing.
She showed us a valuation from the village agents and said she wanted to see if there was any private interest before putting it on the market. Having spent the past five years following every single house sale in the village we had a good idea of the value ourselves and the valuation seemed fair for a detached three bedroom house with curb appeal in that street. We could see it was too small for our needs but the price and the plot meant an extension was viable. She also let us see the particulars from when they bought the house twelve years ago. This included some photos (below) and a floor plan which filled in some of the blanks.
We headed home and on the way decided to make an offer at the valuation price immediately. When I got home I printed a formal offer and took it straight round. The owner was a bit surprised but said they’d give it consideration. It turned out that day there were four offers made including ours. The next day they invited us round to have a look inside and then accepted our offer.
Of course that’s when the eye gougingly frustrating four months of conveyancing began. People have a far worse time of it than we did but even so, the conveyancing process in this country is truly dismal.
Even before we had the keys we’d started to think about how we would extend and reconfigure the house. 18 months later and we’ve not lifted so much as a hammer but that’s due to another dismally inefficient system in this country – the planning application process. But that’s a story for another day.