Lee Rotbart

Posts Tagged ‘estate agents’

This time we’re serious (in 3 parts)

In Second time lucky on September 14, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Part One – the overview

One thing you can say about Danny and I is that we don’t hang around! Less than 3 weeks after we lost Porthminster View we have had an offer accepted on another property in St Ives. It’s just down the road, has equally stunning views, and (for the sake of our finances, sanity and mortgage-ability) is significantly cheaper.

Friday and Saturday were two long days. 5 viewings in 3 locations across South Cornwall, a dinner with my folks, a night in a tent (told you we were budgeting), an offer and acceptance on a beautiful property that feels ‘just right’, and a brilliant two-handed play at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol.

Exhaustion may well be the reason for not updating this blog for a while, and this was not helped by Danny dragging me round Victoria Park for a ‘run’ on Sunday (it’s in inverted commas because there wasn’t much running involved, just lots of panting and complaining on my part), followed by an evening of re-jigging business plans and cash flow projections.

Yesterday was all about getting the information we needed out of the new property (via our new BFF estate agent), calling our mortgage broker, and doing yet more sums to check we can afford to do what we want to do with the property (we can!) while laying down a 35% deposit and putting us in a much better position with the lenders.

So… all in all, there’s a fair amount going on but this time we know what we’re doing. If all goes according to plan we’ll be in uncharted territory soon enough but that would be good – that would mean we have had a ‘yes’ for the mortgage, and my ever so patient buyers will still be hanging in there ready to exchange at the drop of a hat.

Part Two – the detail

When we lost Porthminster View it was both sad and liberating; sad because we’d put so much into it, and liberating because we felt that we’d finally been given ‘permission’ to look around at other properties and, as duly reported, get back in the driving seat.

Organising the 5 viewings over the weekend was exciting, looking on all the different sites and choosing properties based on size, turnover and location gave us a real insight and understanding into what we wanted (something that, because we’d just stumbled upon Porthminster View, we hadn’t had so far). As is inevitable there were 2 or 3 that we really liked on paper, and 1 or 2 that were just making up numbers.

Seeing our ‘favourites’ on Friday was a little depressing. They’d seemed so perfect, so right.

  • Property #1 was almost too perfect, what could we do with it that hadn’t been done already? Plus the location was a little out the way and Danny and I have to live where we run the guest house, we can’t just plonk ourselves in the middle of nowhere and hope for the best, hope that even though everyone that goes into business with their partner will have relationship issues at some point, being in the middle of nowhere won’t make things worse – hah (but that’s a subject for another blog).

As an aside, this was an awesome B&B, run by awesome people who were going to move onto bigger and better things down the road… not a great start for us with the original owners taking all the repeat business.

  • Property #2 was the saddest we saw. In the middle of St Ives, with spectacular views, the house was bereft of love. It was as if someone had come in and just sucked all the joy, warmth and joie de vivre out of the place. Small, cramped, basic rooms, and sad looking en suites only looked good when you compared them to the kitchen which looked like it was being prepared to get a special mention on ‘How Clean is Your House’. It made me want to buy it, gut it, and turn it into the beautiful place it had the potential to be… but at a price tag of £550k that wasn’t going to be possible.

Dinner that night was an animated affair as Property #3 had given us something to think about, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that even that one, while so much better than the other two, was too much of a ‘project’ for an inexperienced couple, and its location and view just didn’t have the WOW factor that we were looking for.

So… you probably think we were being too fussy, asking too much? And maybe we were, but if any of you reading this have ever bought a property you know that it has to feel right, on every level, and that when you’re dealing with £hundreds of thousands you can’t afford to settle, especially when it’s for a B&B where we want to be proud to open the door to our guests.

As we walked up to Property #4 on Saturday morning our demeanour would have not looked out of place in a funeral march. Vocally reminding ourselves that we had to keep an open mind even though we thought this one was a waste of time we tried to keep each others’ spirits up as we climbed the granite steps. This wasn’t as hard as we thought as we turned to see the view provided by the raised pathway and got an instant reminder of why we’re doing all this.

Our funeral-esque attitude turned to, not very well hidden, excitement as we walked through the house (Note to self: NEVER attempt to play poker). Low expectations were quickly forgotten as each room was airier and brighter than the one before. Things on our checklist were slowly being ticked off, great views from all the bedrooms, an enormous kitchen, a beautiful garden, a bright dining room and ample storage. I was too scared to look at Danny at one point just in case he hadn’t fallen in love as fast and as hard as I had; but one glance midway through the tour was enough to reassure me that I was not alone.

Adrenaline coursing through us an hour later we phoned up and put in an offer, not a doubt in our minds… then, as was necessary, we quickly focused our attention on Property #5.

Without going into much detail about this one (as it seems quite pointless at this stage) it’s only worth me saying that this was a close second, and Watergate Bay is quite possibly the most beautiful place I ever seen in the UK.

Driving up the M5 on the way home a few hours later I noticed my phone had an answerphone message. It was Steve Cross informing us that from a remote beach in Thailand the owners of our dream house had accepted our offer.

Part Three – the irony

Yesterday morning Porthminster View’s proprietress phoned me to say that their new buyer had lied to them and the place was ours if we wanted it.

Suffice to say, we are going ahead with the new property. I guess everything really does happen for a reason.

Freak Out #1 and #2

In The beginning on July 13, 2010 at 3:05 pm

As those of you who know me well can testify, I have been prone to the odd ‘freak out’ in the past.

As a rule, I’m good with the big stuff – divorce, death, break-ups, etc. it’s the little things that make me insane. Things like fuses blowing when I walk in the door, the internet not working, the aerial falling off the TV; and bureaucratic nonsense and their associated call centres are always a killer.

With all that in mind I think I’ve been relatively good over the last few weeks. Not as good – I might add – as my, virtually horizontal, other half but, for me, not too bad. It’s all gone to pot now however as I suffered two quite ridiculous freak-outs in the last 3 days.

#1 occurred at 12.30am Friday night / Saturday morning. Arriving home at 10pm full of the joys of the forthcoming weekend I, in a devil-may-care mood, insisted that we watch an episode of Fawlty Towers, ‘to relax and have a laugh’, before embarking on our pre-arranged paperwork party. While I did this with the best of intentions, I did not envisage the amount of forms I had to fill in to sell my flat (the deeds – where the hell are the deeds?).

After spending 90 minutes filling in 4 very thick forms I encountered an unexpected fifth which, while it sounds ridiculous, sent me over the edge “I can’t fill in another form” I wailed as I sat at my desk…. “There are just so many, it’s ridiculous”. Tiredness turned to self-pity, turned to a full-on strop as I railed against the legal processes that meant that I couldn’t sell my flat in 10 minutes or less.

Learning #1: when filling in paperwork start early, be prepared for it to take a while, and try not to drown in self-pity, after all, I’m not the first person to sell a flat and I won’t be the last.

#2 took place about 4 hours ago when my long-suffering estate agent phoned up with the good news that someone had made an offer on my flat. Not just any offer either, they offered what I was hoping for. Add to that they’re not in a chain, not bound to a long-term rental agreement, and have their mortgage offer, I should have been over the moon.

Ha. Not likely. Instead I used it as an excuse to berate my estate agent for being too pushy, phone up my long-suffering partner to rant about said estate agent; and generally not only look the gift horse in the mouth but count its teeth and fillings while I was there.

Learning #2: Employ a brain to mouth filter when speaking to estate agents, and check levels of insanity before picking up the phone to anyone else.

I’m hoping we’re done for a while, I’m hoping that I’ve taken those learnings on board. After all, it’s not going to get any easier over the next few months and I can’t be freaking out every time I have to fill in a form, or every time I feel the fear.

It’s at times like this that I’m very glad there’s two of us in this, and one of them isn’t prone to behaving either like a child in a sweet shop or Gordon Ramsay in a dirty kitchen.