Monday, March 5, 2012

A house update

Image courtesy of Flickr by jjay69

Hello from Doha! I've been meaning to update everyone on our house-buying process for a few days now but life sort of got in the way. Now I'm in the Middle East and there's no time like the present.

In a good way, my trip to Doha has put a much needed pause on our house search. We've let estate agents whip us up into a frenzy of viewings, offers, negotiation, and disappointment; what should be a joyous experience has become fraught with second thoughts and anxiety. To be honest, I think we're both relieved to get our heads out of the game for a bit.

We didn't end up getting the first house that I mentioned a few weeks ago, the full house in need of modernization. We put in an offer at the high end of what we could afford and it simply wasn't enough. Then a week after that, we saw a maisonette with a huge back garden – south-facing, so it got light throughout the day – and an interesting layout that avoided having the front door right next to the master bedroom. We put in an offer on that property last Monday, negotiated throughout the day and finally had it accepted – only to have someone else offer more a mere 5 minutes later. We actually think the estate agent called another interested party to say "hey, this house is going to go so if you want it, you should make an offer around £X." A few days later, more offers came in and they ended up going to sealed bids. Sealed bids is where you put together your offer, the final amount you want to put in on the property and any incentives you can offer (ie, no-chain, cash buyer, etc) and they all go, sealed, to the owner to decide who s/he wants to go with as a buyer. When they went to sealed bids for that maisonette, we decided not to participate because we knew it would go for much more than we were willing to pay.

So where does that leave us? Well, it leaves us in the exact same place we were a few weeks ago when I first told you all we were house-hunting: in our flat with a lot of hopes and dreams. But we now have a few more hard decisions to make. After seeing and almost getting a full house, we really want the full house over a half-a-house maisonette – yet we still want to be close-ish to central London, which means its questionable whether I can afford it. It really is a tradeoff between wishes and musts, and we're still uncertain about what we are willing to compromise on and not. So far, there hasn't been much on the market in our price range and everything that's decent that appears gets snapped up quite quickly; you feel like you see a property on Saturday and need to decide if you want it by Monday – that's really hard. But we keep hearing that the property market opens up in the spring, so there should be more for us to see as the year progresses.

Also, we're not really in a rush. Yes, we'd like a bigger home, to have a garden for when the weather warms up, and to just be THERE already, but there isn't any reason for us rushing to do it. I'm away until Thursday then we head to Dublin for a long weekend Thursday night, and next weekend we have house guests, so realistically we won't be able to fully re-engage with the house hunt until after St Patrick's Day. I think that's okay, and healthy – it gives us time to reassess our priorities and hopefully land on a few tactics that will help us move forward with more purpose and sanity. I am hoping our search will be less emotional, less highs and lows, and more targeted moving forward – and ideally end in success very soon. I'll keep you posted.


  1. Yes, that trade off between accommodation that isn't quite right, and being central in London. It's a difficult one. We've so far decided that being central is good, and we are happy enough with our flat but would prefer to have a house and the feeling of owning a freehold. Good luck with your search!

  2. Thanks Jenny! The ideal is the perfect house in, say, Chelsea, but that isn't going to happen now is it? I love Islington, and would love a house in Barnsbury but that is a pipedream. So the quest continues!!!