The definitive guide to house buying and selling

Right, now it’s out of the way (and I therefore feel I can safely write about it without jeopardising anything via the medium of fate), here’s how a house sale and purchase works. Remember my earlier blog, which likened it to that of a huge eBay transaction. Pay attention to this and you won’t be on the receiving end of any nasty surprises. I promise. I may see if I can get it on Wikipedia. Or perhaps in the Bible.

1. You put your house on the market. Nothing happens. People visit, offer you £10 and demand to know why it isn’t within acceptable walking distance of the Kremlin. This continues for eons until every person, inanimate object and anything that matters is very dead.

2. You get some interest from investors. These people will want the house for £9 but will insist they’re perfect buyers because they will happily wait until the end of time for you to move out before they ship 30,000 immigrants into what used to be your master bedroom. You politely decline.

3. A first time buyer offers 90% of the lowest price you’ll accept. You say no. They up their offer to 91%. You say no, again. They magically find the remaining 9% but make it clear they had to sell important bits of their children and a goat in order to do so.

4. Your For Sale sign magically changes overnight. SOLD is in big letters, ‘subject to contract’ is in size 2 print beneath. Only, it’s that bit that matters now. No whooping and hollering like you get with Kirsty and Phil. Just a foreboding feeling of having little choice but to stare into the abyss that is THE REST OF THE PROCESS. Everyone you know and love tells you this is ‘the best bit’. You smile politely, knowing full well that having your lips gaffa taped to Mick Hucknall’s testicles for a year would be more enjoyable.

5. You start looking for a new house. You’ll look at twenty, all of which will be horrible and have current owners who either follow you around with hawk eyes or, as we experienced, are ghosts (one lady let us in, walked upstairs and then completely disappeared).

6. Just as you are inserting your head into the noose you’ve hung from your once-treasured SOLD sign, you decide to take one last look at Right Move. You swear a bit about the fact that it is still the worst website ever created, but you also find the house of your dreams. It’s perfect – even in the flesh – and you put an offer in. That’s rejected, so you try again with the only offer you know would ever be accepted, rendering your previous attempt completely pointless (although you settle for the fact it made you feel like Phil Spencer for five minutes). The new offer is accepted.

7. You don’t whoop, holler, punch the air or pop champagne corks; you realise everything that happens on Location, Location, Location is an absolute abomination and in no way reflects the arduous, depressing and stressful process at hand. All you do is begin to panic, mildly, and in stages, with the inevitable thud of each solicitor’s letter that hits your doormat every morning and the interminable and dread-filled toll of your mobile phone ring tone when the estate agent calls.

8. As if you haven’t got enough to worry about with the impending survey, your house begins to sink under the weight of the paper your solicitor and estate agent insist on sending you every five minutes. Royal Mail have to draft in extra staff and several new envelope manufacturing plants are built in North East China. Just for you.

9. Your buyer threatens to pull out unless they can move in three weeks ago and keep your telly. You call their bluff, they pop their willy back in their trousers and get on with crying uncontrollably into their own mound of paperwork.

10. Surveys take place. Non-existent damp is discovered, newly-fitted boilers are definitely broken unless independently inspected, bushes ‘erected without planning permission’ are deemed worthy of demolition and you are informed that you will definitely die of radon gas poisoning at your new home, even though no one can properly explain what the fuck it is.

11. Time stands still. New continents are formed, wars are fought, Apple run out of numbers to put after ‘iPhone’, new constellations appear in the night sky and new lifeforms are born, exist and go extinct.

12. You receive another piece of paper explaining your vendor is taking the toilet roll holder with them.

13. You reach exchange day. For reasons you cannot fathom, people insist on hand delivering their signed contracts and in turn holding everything up at the last minute. You resist the urge to suggest you’ll have your deposit delivered on horse back and divided into pieces of eight.

14. Exchange day lasts for a week as solicitors refuse to return calls, sign paper work and, presumably, give Janet in accounts a seeing to instead.

15. You exchange. Champagne corks are popped. You get drunk. Then, you wake up the next day and realise you’ve got to pack everything you own, including the dog, into as many boxes as you can steal from the back of Morrisons. This isn’t fun. Thoughts turn again to Mick Hucknall.

16. You move in. It’s done. You’re free to whoop and holler. If you know what that means. I don’t.

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