Lee Rotbart

Posts Tagged ‘venture’

The mortgage maze

In Getting the mortgage on July 28, 2010 at 6:33 pm

I feel like a double glazing salesman, phoning around trying to get someone to bite using the same script that has been rejected by hundreds of people beforehand. With each new phone call there is renewed hope, as well as newly identified obstacles. We get so far down the line with one lender, and then something comes to light that means we can’t go forward.

There are the highly suspect ‘market trader” commercial mortgage brokers saying “We don’t mind if you have been bankrupt before and have CCJs coming out your ears, we’ll find you money” – sentiments we are becoming ever more suspicious of.

There are the ‘over-realistic’ brokers saying “You don’t have a hope in hell, we can’t help you unless you have more money than sense at your disposal”.

Then there’s our ‘I cannot say enough good things about him’ mortgage broker who is bending over backwards and exploring every possible avenue to help us get this money, as he truly believes in us, and in what we are doing.

We are currently mid-discussions with 3 separate organisations and everything is so slow, and so painful and I’m bored of hearing myself say, “if only ******* hadn’t employed that surveyor”, because it’s irrelevant drivel which is no good to man nor beast.

I don’t believe in fate, but somewhere along the line surely we have to know when to fold our hand. Kenny Rogers once (tunefully) gave us some advice about knowing when to hold ’em and fold ’em (The Gambler, 1978):

Should we be folding? Or is this just something we have to get over, something we’ll laugh about in a few months time? I truly don’t know. I know that even though I’m telling people there is no more hope I’m secretly thinking about the last conversation I had with *******; that while I’m looking at other properties I’m still coming back to this blog, and thinking about this (and only this) near perfect opportunity.

Surely there can’t be many properties in the middle of one of the most beautiful, and popular, areas of the UK that:

  1. Have planning permission
  2. Have a search engine friendly website on a sought after web address
  3. Have the perfect number of bedrooms – not too many to be unmanageable for novices, but not so few that there’s no potential to earn a decent wage
  4. Have phenomenal views from 4 out of the 6 bedrooms
  5. Have all fixtures, fittings, linen and furniture in place (and not charging any extra for them)
  6. Have a live-in maid who is prepared to stay on, who knows the ropes and will be vital in ensuring the guesthouse runs like clockwork while we’re still finding our feet

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is a great opportunity isn’t it? Add to that the fact that we have significant money behind us, business brains, enthusiasm and passion for the task – it just doesn’t add up.

Two years ago, when this recession hit, my only concern was that I might not get a pay rise at my current job (just for clarification, I was actually right about that). Now it’s so much bigger. Those newspaper headlines that, like the war in Afghanistan, were only relevant to “other people” now mean something to me. Headlines that screamed ‘Banks not lending’, ‘Financial crisis makes 80% mortgages a thing of the past’, and ‘No more credit’ are now my reality.

It just goes to show that you never know what’s round the corner. One man’s relevant headline is another man’s chip paper. After all, there is probably someone somewhere that cares about Wayne Rooney’s love life.

In her heyday Margaret Thatcher once remarked:

Small firms can be a seed-bed for new ideas and a testing ground for new ways of working. They often lead the way in new products and new services. They put the customer first. They have to, to survive in a fast-changing world.

Maybe I should write to her…

Plan A: The revival

In Getting the mortgage on July 24, 2010 at 2:10 pm

This blog is dedicated to our mortgage broker who, in my excitement and impatience, received a text from me at 9.30 last night. He is yet to respond and I don’t blame him. Dear Nick: I apologise for my impatience and I hope you’re having a good weekend.

The last 24 hours have been a roller-coaster.

Now I’m not new to swinging past balance on a regular basis, feeling high as a kite one minute, and experiencing a rock bottom low the next; yet, even for me, the last day or two have been ever so slightly insane.

I last left you in pursuit of Plan B; a plan that seemed less viable the more steps we took in its direction. What we originally thought was a safe and robust, if somewhat expensive, option was quickly looking like a mirage in the desert: Like a promise built on quicksand and wrapped in a bow. The more we discussed our options the fewer there seemed to be, and by 8 o’clock last night we were online looking at guesthouses across Cornwall and contemplating getting the overnight sleeper to St Ives. Not, as you might imagine, to beg the current proprietors of Porthminster View to reduce the price, but to look at a less exciting B&B option around the corner.

Spirits were low and my conversation had degenerated into phrases like ‘I was sure this was the universe’s plan for us’, ‘Are we ever *big sigh* going to escape London?’, and other useful epithets. Thoughts about going back to work on Monday without this on my horizon sunk me into a further low, and all the sentiments I’d been expressing to friends, about how if this doesn’t work out then it wasn’t meant to be, were quickly forgotten. Doom and gloom turned into bemoaning our fate, and sentences starting ‘if only’ were appearing far too frequently.

It occurred to me, at that point, how quickly these plans have taken over my life. Considering it was less than 6 weeks ago that we stayed in the aforementioned guesthouse, it has quickly become all we talk about, all we talk about to others about, all people ask us about. And my pride, dear god, my pride is killing me. I don’t want to admit that it hasn’t worked, I don’t want to tell all those people that we’re not leaving London after all, I don’t want to answer the questions that will inevitably follow, or deal with the sympathetic head tilts and cliched platitudes about how something better will come along. I want to stamp my foot, eat a bucket of ice cream, and talk about the unfairness of life. My friends – self-pity and self-righteousness  – will no doubt come to this party, but I suspect anyone else I invite will politely decline.

After an almost entire pot of coffee, yet more back of the envelope sums, and mainly irrelevant internet surfing we decided to phone the current proprietors to break the news.

It was during this conversation that new hope was born. Like the amateur property people we are, we’d made an assumption about a particular piece of legislation, this supposition then became the basis which dictated how we decided to proceed… and, would you believe it, we were wrong. Not only a little bit wrong, but very very very wrong. So wrong in fact that it may be we could have had the mortgage offer sorted yesterday.

Someone I respect very much once said to me that he ‘knows enough [about a particular subject] to be dangerous’, and I suspect that’s the trap my boyfriend and I are just clambering out of.

Now, frustratingly, it’s the weekend and very little can be done about the information we’ve discovered, so I don’t want to go into too much detail or start castigating Plan B as we may still have to use it. However, we now have something we did not have at 8 o’clock last night and that is hope and, very possibly, a hernia.

And it was all going so well…

In Getting the mortgage on July 23, 2010 at 1:50 pm

I just found out that we’ve been turned down for the mortgage we were trying to get. This is not the worst thing that could have happened as we have a Plan B; however it is a bit of a low moment and we hadn’t really had one of those yet.

In all honesty it was going quite smoothly, and we had talked ourselves (or at least I had) into a place where we couldn’t really envisage it going wrong. Yet things do, life happens and I have to accept it and deal with the situation at hand, rather than ranting and raving about the unfairness of it all.

My instinct is to not blog about this because writing about it makes it real… but I couldn’t do that to you could I? I can’t just give you all the best bits without communicating the absolute reality of dealing with mortgage lenders and the housing market within a recession; and it’s hardly a diary of events if I skip over the obstacles.

I wish, more than anything, that this had all gone through as planned, but ‘wish’ is probably one of the most over-used, and pointless words in the English language.


1. to want; desire; long for (usually fol. by an infinitive or a clause): I wish to travel. I wish that it were morning. 2. to desire (a person or thing) to be (as specified): to wish the problem settled. 3. to entertain wishes, favorably or otherwise, for: to wish someone well; to wish someone ill. 4. to bid, as in greeting or leave-taking: to wish someone a good morning. 5. to request or charge: I wish him to come.

I bracket the sentiment along with others like ‘deserve’ and ‘fair’ – words that imply the user wants to simply be exempt from life / hard times and is just in it for the smooth ride. Wish is nonacceptance, wish is fantasy, and wish is not going to get me off the floor and on the phone to call the Plan B which has been waiting quietly in the wings knowing that I would eventually have to turn to it.

In many ways this is not an awful development. The current, and recently scuppered, Plan A saved us a bit of money, however it wasn’t the most appropriate mortgage package. Plan B is much more straightforward.

Plan A might say “I’ll show you this gorgeous plate of food but please don’t ask me how many E numbers and genetically modified products are in it”; while Plan B might say “Here’s your dinner, it’s meat and two veg, I hope you like it”. There are no vegetarian options, and if they don’t eat meat we will start planting tomatoes.

All in all, I’ve pretty much talked myself into the fact that this isn’t the end of the world, even if it is the end of this particular road.

OK… so £1,300 and 2 weeks later we are in reverse; still, as per my reference in My Perfect Guesthouse, even Edison himself didn’t invent the lightbulb first time round.

Addicted to social media

In The beginning on July 22, 2010 at 11:16 am

By day I am a strategy consultant, working at one of the top 100 digital agencies in the UK. By night I am a blog crazed, Twitter obsessing, maniac.

I am yet to hand in my notice at work and so blog activities are confined to the hours of 8pm – 1am. During the working day I am ashamed to admit that I probably spend up to an hour checking blog statistics, tweeting, following Cornwall oriented tweeters, and leaping with joy every time someone new starts following Porthminster_Vu.

NB. Porthminster View is spelt like that because Twitter limits characters for user names; it is not because I am of the ‘text speak’ generation – I can assure you, I’m not!

It’s a peculiar phenomenon – social media – 5 years ago no one would have understood the sentence ‘I’ll Facebook you’, yet today it’s part of every day speak (for the under 50s). In some circles I’m considered a digital immigrant, roughly translated this means that I’m not of the digital generation yet I’ve adopted it as part of my culture, this is in direct comparison to a digital native – someone under the age of 15 who has no concept of linear TV, doesn’t know what a VHS tape looks like, and doesn’t remember or understand a world without mobile phones.

All this aside, I never really had much interest in it. Yes, I like to share my photos on Facebook, look up what people are doing and (on occasion) stalk ex-boyfriends, friends, and old schoolmates; and that’s about it, until just recently when I discovered the pure adrenaline rush that can be garnered from Visit Britain (for example), and other iconic organisations beginning to follow Porthminster View on Twitter. It’s all very ‘clan’. In my heart of hearts I know that there’s probably some bored work experience intern sitting in the Visit Britain offices clicking ‘follow’ on every random company that pops their head above the parapet however, that doesn’t really make a difference. I love it, I text my boyfriend proudly every time I get a new person following, and every time my blog gets a new subscription.

“Look what I’m doing” I say, like a child who has just learned how to tie their shoelaces. “How good am I?”… no matter that the mortgage is still to be approved, we are yet to sell my partner’s flat, and we haven’t learned how to make toast without burning it. No matter about all those quite vital things, for I am a social media genius! *Cue brass band music, fireworks and spotlights*

I genuinely never thought that I would be one of those people, people who become so dedicated to a project / job that they enjoy absolutely everything about it: From keeping spreadsheets up to date to organising the marketing, and from proactively phoning solicitors to being almost disappointed at the end of the working day. Yet I’ve discovered that when you are truly wedded to something, truly dedicated, truly want something to succeed, there really are no limits. I’m finally understanding, and having a bit of compassion for, my workaholic CEO who has built her truly amazing agency up from scratch. I get it. I really do.

Don’t get me wrong I love my job, but I am yet to end work on a Friday disappointed that it’s the weekend, and I am yet to leap out of bed on a Monday morning thinking “thank god that’s over”. With Porthminster View however, I am genuinely frustrated when there’s nothing more I can do about something because I’m waiting for the mortgage company / solicitor / accountant / buyer / vendor to do what they need to do.

In all those gaps, and there are many gaps, I have social media. Twitter doesn’t care that it’s 2 o’clock in the morning, my computer doesn’t go to sleep at night, and email still works even if no one (in this time zone) will read what I’ve written until the morning. In this crazy situation where there is so much to do yet nothing can get done before its time, I still feel like I’m achieving something. It’s an outlet that I’m sure, if nothing else, my boyfriend is relieved I have.

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.