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My moving story

Sep 21, 2015 | Vee's blog | 0 comments

I’ve moved!

moving storyPhase 1 of the Great Move is complete!

Moving ought to be less stressful than it is and as someone who is not easily stressed for some reason our move has become a very complicated long story which I’m going to share with you, together with my learnings and thoughts.

The fella in my life, Andy, and I decided about 2 years ago that we would each sell our respective houses and buy something together. I live in Watford with my 16yo and 21yo and he lives in Staines. As my business is not location specific we decided that we would move to Staines area so it’s still easy for him to attend his place of employment (Heathrow/BA – he works in Cargo) and because of my 16yo’s schooling and not wanting to disrupt her in the middle of her GCSE studies, the window to move was during the summer holidays this year after she finished her GCSEs and before starting sixth form.

New Chapter Planning

So at beginning of this year we looked at colleges around Staines and chose and enrolled her into a sixth form college in Egham. She had to get a minimum 5 GCSEs grade C or above and a B in Maths as that’s one of her A level subjects.

In the meantime, my 21yo was due to have her final year 3 studying a Psychology degree at Middlesex Uni. Up to now she had chosen to live at home and commute to Hendon via train and bus for the first 2 years, she decided that she would like to live in halls for her third year and saved up money to pay for it, so this weekend we moved her into her private halls in Wembley.

At the Beginning of the Year

Back in February, my house went on the market and the brilliant estate agents got me an acceptable offer within a week which was great news.

We then started looking at houses and found one we really liked in Ashford which was a lovely size, downstairs office for me, amazing master bedroom with en suite and walk in wardrobe…. super kitchen, no work required – ticked a lot of our boxes. Sadly, we lost out to another buyer because at that time Andy’s house wasn’t on the market and the competing buyers managed to get theirs on the market and sold within a couple of weeks.

Andy’s next door neighbour had expressed an interest in buying his house so he gave them a couple of weeks to see if they could raise the money, but sadly they couldn’t so Andy signed up with a local agent who had been very attentive showing us the houses he had on his books. But almost as soon as we were signed up, it went VERY quiet. No viewings. Not even at the weekends. Nothing like the activity I had experienced when my house went on the market.

Sold

It was a good 6 weeks before anyone put in an offer on Andy’s house – the offer was from a local kebab shop owner who wanted to buy it for investment purposes and put his employees up in it – so effectively no chain. The offer was a bit on the low side but he accepted it, taking the view that maybe we hadn’t found a suitable place yet because we weren’t in a strong position to make any meaningful offers!

Dream Home

Low and behold, within a few days of accepting that offer, we found what we thought was our ideal home! It had a lot of land – enough to park one of his buses on (oh, did I mention that Andy preserves buses and is a bit of a bus geek enthusiast – he also owns and runs a bus business which does school runs and rail replacement). It was also in lovely condition, and although had 4 beds, it didn’t have a downstairs office. But it did have a double garage that had the potential to be converted to a living space – my office and training room even!

First sign of trouble

Then it transpired that my buyers were having trouble securing a mortgage so my estate agents gave them an ultimatum that until they organised a survey, my house would go back on the market, which it did. For 3 days. I had 14 parties of people come and view, and before anyone had a chance to make an offer the original buyers managed to secure/book a survey, so it came off the market.

Back on track

So we thought we had it made, paid the mortgage valuation/survey fee, instructed solicitors, paid them search fees, went on holiday in mid July thinking everything was running smoothly and to plan – we’d have our new home by the time my 16yo needed to start college.

Falling apart

However when we came back from our 2 week holiday in Portugal everything started to fall apart. Andy’s buyer (the Kebab shop man) didn’t actually have the 25% deposit – turns out he was relying on the sale of another business where he had renegotiated the lease the previous year. He thought he would save legal fees and renew the lease by himself and didn’t actually write in a buy-out clause and so he couldn’t actually sell the business and the Lessors wouldn’t agree to it being sold or even back date such a clause.

It also transpired that my buyers really weren’t able to secure that mortgage and after going quiet and not responding to phone calls. Both our houses went back on the market. 

Within 12 hours of it going on the market, I had an offer from one of the people who came to see it the previous 3 days it was on the market and they offered the full asking price – nearly £10k more than the previous buyers! They were first time buyers too.

Andy’s house went back on the market and within about 2 weeks had two offers. They were told to give their best final offers. One dropped out and the other one offered £2k more than Mr Kebab’s offer. Quids in! The new offer was from a lady, first time buyer who was a conveyancer, so didn’t expect to get any delays from her.

Except she then went quiet and disappeared of the face of the earth and never responded to any communications to get her solicitors details.

Back on the market and this time the estate agents were given a kick up the proverbial as they weren’t as proactive as mine and not checking the credentials of the people putting in offers! The owner of the estate agents (who seem to hold on to everything and not empower or delegate to his perfectly able staff, was never available when you rang and never returned calls) went on holiday and one of the negotiators did a brilliant job of organising 8 viewings one of which resulted in an offer £5k more than the original Mr Kebab offer. This is the third time lucky! They are first time buyers and had just lost a property because the sellers had decided to not sell. So they have their mortgage all approved.

More problems

In the meantime, the house we were buying with space for a bus was turning into a nightmare. The valuation came back zero, subject to them finding out more details of the Esso pipeline that ran under the far corner of the plot and just caught the garage corner. After a lot of document exchanges, it became clear that actually whilst there was consent to build garages and sheds and greenhouses and use the land for garden purposes, there was no consent to build a house – or if there was that document was missing.

Huge alarm bells ringing loudly, our mortgage broker advised us to drop it as we would have problems selling it. So we did.

New Chapter – Part 1

In the meantime, we needed to move to Staines as my 16yo was due to start college imminently. She did really well in her GCSEs and had more than enough for the minimum entry requirement. We took our essentials and moved into Andy’s the weekend before she started college. I’m now in a new office that I’m sharing with Andy’s boxes and washing! I have a whole new view. I can watch the comings and goings outside the house. There’s a beautiful green. I no longer have to do that 2 second trek down the garden path to my garden studio. Half my stuff is going into storage until we move into our final destination – Phase 2. It’s also been an opportunity to have a clear out and get rid of clutter that no longer serves me. It amazes me how much stuff I’ve accumulated over the past 16 years we’ve lived in South Oxhey. In fact packing took a whole lot longer than I imagined it would.

Third Time Lucky

So we restarted looking at property and found what we hope will be our third time lucky property. It’s in Egham itself – a short walk to college for my 16yo and Egham station for me when I need to get into London for meetings etc. Some of the rooms need a lick of paint and ideally a new kitchen, has huge amount of land and potential to build a side extension for my office. It has a double length garage huge rooms and space for loads of cars (and buses)! We were pitted against another buyer and after a lot of too’ing and fro’ing heard that our offer was accepted despite ours being the lower of the two the vendor was considering.

The number 3 seems to be our lucky number – both our properties were on the market three times. We’re on the third house we want to buy. I’m not superstitious but just in case, I’m crossing fingers.

Learnings

So here’s 3 learnings I’ve taken from the move so far….

1. Pick a good estate agent whose customers are raving fans and where they have good internal communications systems – I already had experience of my estate agents. They sold me the property 16 years ago, so I knew how good they were. We got swayed by the owner of Andy’s estate agent – he was a good salesman, but hopeless at delegating and didn’t seem to have any systems in place so that anyone on his team could update you with the latest. All that info stayed in the owner’s head and he was the most difficult person to get hold of!

2. Start sorting and packing months in advance – it takes far longer than you think and it’s a good opportunity to have a declutter and clear out. My motivation – I’m paying for storage and for someone to move the stuff there I’m gonna make damn sure there’s only stuff I value being taken there!

3. If you want to keep your landline number (for me it’s in all my marketing materials, printed and online) then move it to a virtual number asap, as they require 30 days on a live line for that to happen so it’s no good waiting until you have exchanged contacts – it’s too late – as I found! Vonage and Citynumbers are companies that host virtual numbers for around £5-7 a month.

Final thoughts

I’m still not sure why moving is so complicated. I don’t remember it being so complicated when we moved to the house 16 years ago. Maybe because we moved from a one-bed flat so we didn’t have so much stuff. Suffice to say, moving is meant to be one of the top most stressful situations people go through. I concur, it is!

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