So once again I’ve been neglecting the old blog but it’s not just because I’ve been distracted by pubs, games and general laziness like normal. To be fair I have spent a lot of the time in the pub, playing games or lazing about but a man doesn’t live on bread alone an a’that and with the Budget only a month away it behooves me to grab a few swallys before the Chancellor puts the price of beer up. Anyway a few weeks ago Rosa and I stood back and had a look at our priorities and realising she’s not getting any younger, I’m not so sure about me, we decided to re-arrange our priorities slightly. This means delaying going to Africa in the short-term and investing our hard earned cash into something solid for the future, in other words we’ve started hunting for a flat.
Now the first steps into the property market are relatively painless. There’s the giddy excitement of looking at what’s out there followed closely by the despair of working out what you can afford with your bank which changes to slow creeping terror ass you talk to your financial advisor and find out lots of new and interesting ways to get yourself into a lifetime of debt and servitude to The Man. As I said it’s all relatively painless, maybe the equivalent of sawing your left foot off with a rusty hacksaw but you know it’ll all work out. Well either that or you’ll over-extend yourself and end up homeless and bankrupt but that’s all part of the giddy excitement of living in a capitalist society.
The actual looking for places is actually quite good fun as long as you remember that there’s no point having a wander down to the estate agents as they’re all only open between 9 and 5 Monday to Friday. Clearly they don’t actually want to have to meet any working peeps looking to buy so a casual wander around on a Saturday afternoon is a definite no-no. Thank God for t’internet through which you can browse over nearly everything available, get floorplans and pics and check out where a property is on Googlemaps. Of course you’ve still got to call the estate agents to get a viewing which means having to call from work cos they can’t be arsed being at all flexible. After this you get to wander around peoples houses trying to be nice but not give too much away about what you really think whilst they try to convince you that although they live only two streets away from Dens and Tannadice match day traffic really isn’t that bad. It’s a really weird experience. Then one day you find a flat you’re definitely interested and skip gaily home to call your FA and put in an offer. This is where the real pain begins.
Now you peeps in other parts of the world are probably nodding sagely at this as you think of the pain you went through buying property for yourself but what you felt is but a shadow of the true agony of buying in Scotland. You see in most places if somebody wants to sell their house they decide how much they want for it then advertise it at that price. The prospective buyers come along and make offers either at the price asked or a bit lower if they think the owner will sell at it. The bid is then either accepted or not, contracts are exchanged and a’body happily moves on with their lives. Of course there’s still the danger of being part of a broken chain or being gazumped but the basics are pretty straightforward and whilst not great doesn’t engender the cosmic dread that the Scottish system does.
In Scotland the seller decides how much he wants for the house, takes anything from 5 to 25 thousand pounds off that price then advertises it as offers over the new figure eg if the seller wants £105,000 he might advertise at offers over £89,000. Any prospective buyers who come along then have to guess how much the seller really wants. It’s sort of like The Price is Right only with you betting your future on the guess of the price. When viewing a flat you find yourself playing weird mindgames as you try to figure out what the owner wants and he tries to get you to offer as much as possible. All this leads to where we are now.
Last Sunday afternoon Rosa and I went to view a top floor two bedroomed flat nearwhere we live. It’s not in the absolute best area but it’s pretty big and 5 minutes from our haunts in Stoby so it’s not awful either. Anyway having a look around we agree that the flat itself is pretty stunning with great views, big rooms and great storage and a chat with the owner reveals what price he’s actually looking for. On leaving we call Barry our FA and set everything in motion to make an offer at the price the owner quoted. Within the day we get an answer that whilst the owner isn’t rejecting the offer he’s going to wait to see what else he gets then yesterday we find out that they’ve set a closing date for next Wednesday so all bids from now on will be sealed. So now this bloke is going to tell a’body what he’s offered in the hope they’ll up the bid whilst also hoping that even if he gets no other offers we’ll up ours in fear of somebody outbidding us. In pain terms this is somewhere around hacking your left bollock off with a dull spoon.
A side effect of all this, and one I was warned about, is the shockingly deep hatred I feel toward the seller for saying what he wants then holding out for more. Intellectually I know he’s just acting on good advice and I’d do exactly but that doesn’t mean I won’t hunt him down like the dog he is if I don’t get this flat. I’ve been assured that he undoubtedly hates me right back for not offering him more than he wanted so the second viewing at the weekend should be fun as we try to maintain a veneer of civilization over our mutual loathing. He seemed like such a nice guy as well.