Lee Rotbart

Posts Tagged ‘property sale’

Me, Danny, and a big house in Cornwall

In Between the mortgage and the move on November 19, 2010 at 2:52 pm

You may have noticed that I’ve gone a bit quiet this week. This has predominantly been for the following reasons:

  1. We have been moving – still! After moving Danny out of his flat, we then had to move (some of him) into mine, we then had to move most of mine into storage, we then had to move the rest of mine, and a little bit of his, into my parents house where we arrived last night, and where we will be for the next 3 months.
  2. We have been completing and exchanging on all 3 properties, which – inevitably – come with their own set of unforeseen problems and mini-crises. Notably a ‘Danny Dash’ from his office in Kensington to my office in Soho to sign papers that had we had emailed to us on Wednesday morning and needed to be received by the sender by Thursday morning (I can be grateful for the fact that it was a rare day with no tube strike).
  3. We have been planning our website and logo which is very exciting, and we have both been loving it, but our designer has been throwing questions at us that we hadn’t really considered and therefore every meeting has resulted in 2 -3 hours of debate.
  4. Work has been hell (and I am not exaggerating). I have had both my CEO and Commercial Director in Singapore and Australia and am being managed across different timezones and different cultures via email. For the managers among you, this is NOT the recommended approach for building staff motivation and commitment.

As an aside it has taken a HUGE amount of restraint not to use this blog to rant about my bosses and I am proud of this, along with the fact that I have resisted taking a AK47 into work and doing what the Vietnam veterans of America were doing in the 80s and 90s.

Going postal, in American Englishslang, means becoming extremely and uncontrollably angry, often to the point of violence, and usually in a workplace environment.

The expression derives from a series of incidents from 1983 onward in which United States Postal Service (USPS) workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police or general public in acts of mass murder. Between 1986 and 1997, more than 40 people were gunned down by spree killers in at least 20 incidents of workplace rage.

Anyway… excuses for the silence aside, I am delighted to announce that Danny and I have exchanged on the property in St Ives, along with completing on our respective flats (well, Danny’s is nearly there). That’s it now, there is no going back. We are just us two and a big house in Cornwall. Oh, and a larger than expected storage box room in Bow which is absolutely stuffed to bursting.

As we drove away from my flat last night, with the few belongings that are going to see us through the winter in the back of the car, I thought that I’d be sad and a little nostalgic for my beloved flat; but that wasn’t the case. Instead I was excited, excited about the future, excited about being self-employed, excited that it wasn’t the end but the beginning, and excited about our new logo which arrived on email earlier that day. This excitement briefly manifested itself in the Big Yellow Storage building in Bow where we ‘surfed’ on the trolleys through the empty gangways (well it was 9.30 at night).

Precisely 5 months ago (to the day) we arrived back from our holiday in Cornwall and announced to our friends and family that we wanted to buy a guest house in St Ives and move down there. 2 flat sales, a mortgage, and a fair amount of negotiation and planning later we find ourselves on our way to doing exactly that.

The end (of phase 1)

In The beginning on August 25, 2010 at 12:34 pm

It’s ironic that when I set up this blog I tagged the first lot of posts ‘The beginning’ and now it seems we’re at the end and I don’t remember the middle.

Around 8 weeks ago Danny and I received a phone call that changed our lives, and yesterday we received another phone call that changed the direction. The beautifully patient and enthusiastic proprietors of Porthminster View finally accepted another offer on the building. After putting off their estate agent for over a week in anticipation of a successful mortgage application our last rejection was the final straw and they just had to pin their carriage to another train – one that doesn’t need a mortgage to get it moving. If ours is a steam engine – traditional and nostalgic, theirs is an express – fast, efficient and less likely to break down.

I don’t blame them. This has been a highly emotional journey for both us and them, and I truly believe they were as disappointed as us when they called yesterday. The saddest thing about the whole affair is that the new owners are not going to run Porthminster View as a guesthouse and so another B&B bites the dust, and another view of the St Ives beach and harbour is privatised.

In an environment where holiday companies are going bust left, right and centre, and oil prices are going to restrict the number of people who can afford flights more and more each year, it’s a sad state of affairs that one of the UK’s busiest tourist destinations is likely to run out of medium priced guesthouses due to private purchases and a banking industry who make it impossible for small businesses to get a break.

On a personal, less holistic, note I am sad for us. Sad that something which for the first 4 weeks seemed so right, could go so wrong. The accidental visit, the ease with which I sold my flat, and the accepted offer so far below the asking price all combined to give us a very strong feeling that this could not go wrong.

However if we’re going to be positive about this and, let’s face it, what choice do we have? This hasn’t gone completely up the spout. OK, so Porthminster View wasn’t the place for us, that doesn’t mean that another place won’t be. It doesn’t mean that the guesthouse we should be running isn’t out there somewhere waiting for us to come along and take it over. After all we now have the following information, none of which we had 3 months ago.

  1. We know we want to run a guesthouse
  2. We know we want to be in Cornwall, preferably St Ives, definitely by the coast
  3. We have a template for a guesthouse business plan
  4. We have projections for a guesthouse turnover
  5. We know the lending criteria we need to meet
  6. We know our budget

So the only question remains is what to call this blog. I’m regretting calling it after the name of the guesthouse we were hoping to acquire (maybe I jinxed it?!), but I have never once regretted starting it up and I certainly don’t want this to be the end.

Will think on it… Watch this space.

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.

An ode to my flat

In Reminiscing on July 6, 2010 at 10:14 am

Today I have to phone the estate agent to put my flat on the market. This is a sad day indeed. My little, one-bedroom flat in Bethnal Green has been my bedrock for nearly 6 years and I love it.

I remember the day we first met, I was wondering where the hell I was as the estate agent drove me through the back streets of East London; grand thoughts of living in North London dashed by my meager salary and inability to get a large enough mortgage. However, upon opening the door into a light, airy wooden-floored flat it was love at first sight.

A year later, when London won the Olympic bid, I thought my luck was in as visions of renting my flat out for £thousands in 2012 floated in front of my eyes. I now find myself going against my better judgment and selling up before 2012 hits – and there was me thinking I’d never leave.

My flat has seen a lot of everything… lots of parties, lots of tears, lots of arguments, lots of friends, badly cooked chicken soup, and cheesecakes to die for. It’s seen me fall in and out of love with people, cigarettes, alcohol, and items of clothing. Embarrassingly in the first few years the nearby community saw a lot of this too as I didn’t invest in curtains till 2007.

Overall the place has been pretty loyal. The boiler hasn’t packed up and the shower’s only broken once; I’ve never been burgled and I’ve always had nice neighbours. I was even lucky enough to have a friend design the lighting for me: No more bright lights and ugly lampshades from John Lewis for me, it was all dimmer switches, and minimalistic spotlights on metal tracks.

Inevitably, there are some things that have never been quite right. I still have to have an indoor aerial in the living room because the aerial point is in the bedroom. The wi-fi is temperamental. The fridge is tiny with an even tinier freezer compartment, and I stare in envy at friends that have a huge fridge freezer that spurts out ice cubes from a gap at the front. The intercom is basic, despite all their promises the building owners are yet to put pigeon holes in for post, and we won’t even mention the 6 year battle to keep my parking space clear of commuters trying to avoid the congestion charge.

All that aside, it’s been a great 6 years and some change is more terrifying than others. Selling my flat is like finishing a story, it’s saying goodbye to a best friend, it’s graduating university; and while I thought it would always be there, I guess that everything comes to an end eventually.

Anatole France once said ‘All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another’.

Thanks Anatole, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The beginning

In The beginning on July 3, 2010 at 1:20 pm

One hour ago I received a phonecall that is, in all probability, going to turn my life upside down.

A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I stayed at a guesthouse in St.Ives, Cornwall. A few weeks later we found ourselves to be the likely next owners of said guesthouse.

Relocation had been on the cards for sometime and so looking to move out of London was not the strange thing; the strange thing was that the thought of cooking breakfast and making the beds of complete strangers didn’t fill us both with horror. More, it got us excited – really excited. Thoughts of bedroom decor, awards, cornish pasties, cream teas, and meeting the community filled our heads and suddenly we found ourselves valuing flats, digging down the back of sofas for lost change, and living off the Tescos value range in order to cobble together the vast amounts of money we needed to make an offer.

One hour ago the offer was accepted; and this blog was born.

I am not a retiree, nor am I (or my boyfriend) close to retirement age; and you’ll find out more about us in the coming weeks. Just for now it’s enough to know what we’re doing and, in a cheeky bid for better SEO, naming this blog after our future home.

Welcome to the first phase: the offer and the exchange.