Adventures in House Hunting

I am getting to the point in my whole “moving house” drama at which desperation is kicking in. I’m not known for my patience so the fact that my house has been on the market now since the end of April is clearly too long for me to find this an acceptable timescale. During this time I have loved and lost the House of Bling ™

The Lounge of Bling ... in all its blingy glory

The Lounge of Bling ... in all its blingy glory

… and also had a brief flirtation with and then lost interest in the Salmon Fish Finger House.

Never trust a house that looks like a convenience snack

Never trust a house that looks like a convenience snack

So, what next? With a new Estate Agent soon to be on the case with my own House of Kittens (also a tm), I decided the time was right to spend a weekend viewing every house within a mile of Falconwood Station that is remotely within my budget. So this weekend 11 viewings had been arranged (and this morning 2 viewings have been cancelled) and so far 8 have been completed. My main conclusion is that people have WEIRD taste. My more detailed thoughts are …

House Number 1
This was one of my two favourites on paper. I’ve driven past it before so knew the exterior at least was not going to disappoint. On arrival, a woman (I use the term loosely) with short cropped hair, a tracksuit and a snarl greeted me at the door.

Militant lesbian: “You phoned to cancel”
Me: “Er, no I didn’t”
Militant lesbian: “Yes you did, you phoned ten minutes ago”
(At this point I did actually go back ten minutes in my mind to see if maybe I had phoned to cancel but no, I didn’t).

After a bit more to-ing and fro-ing she decided to let me in. Cue two disgusting, yappy little dogs jumping all over me. Lesbian? Check. Dogs? Check. Went into the lounge. Children? Check. This is rapidly turning into my own personal episode in the SAW franchise. The house itself was actually very nice, a definite maybe. It has a very, very small garden, but then is that really a problem? My horror was complete when I had a look round upstairs. Fish tank? Check. Smallest bedroom with Chelsea FC wallpaper? OK, I’ve seen enough now … (*)

House Number 2
This is the one I can’t afford and was only viewing as the agent said of the vendor: “she’ll definitely take an offer” (I think all agents say that about all vendors but I liked the area so was prepared to humour it). So, with half a mind on the third appointment I had a look. There is a reason this house is £5k over my top top budget. It’s fantastic. The decor is just mad and blingy enough to appeal to me (and probably put saner buyers off) and it’s a very short stagger to the station (through some woods that, as far as I know, don’t contain lions, tigers, bears or axe murderers). I’m going to make an offer, spend a few weeks imagining my crap furniture in my lovely new home and then lose it to some chain-free bastard who does not deserve to live there as much as I do.

House Number 3
Anybody who tried to use the toilets at Glastonbury on the last day of the festival in the mud fest of 2007 will relate to House number 3. Also anybody who has ever volunteered in the Bangalore slums. There was actual filth daubed on the walls. The kitchen looked like it should have been condemned and, had I gone completely mad and bought the house, I would not have been able to put the cats on the floor until Rentokill had been in. At least three times. I know you are not meant to judge a house by the condition the vendor has it in but there are surely limits. The fact that the couple selling the place slept on a stained mattress with no actual bedding had me wondering for a moment whether I’d actually fallen into a parallel universe in which I was a guest star in the film Trainspotting. Got out of there as quickly as was humanly possible and, resisting the urge to drive straight home to scrub myself all over with disinfectant, moved on to …

House Number 4
This one apparently “needed a bit of work”. A bit. OK, so in order to make it even basically inhabitable, it would need a new kitchen and bathroom, total redecoration (including having the mould scraped from the walls) and central heating installed. The Japanese soldiers who were no doubt hiding in the long grass out in the garden would probably need to be paid off as well. I wonder what the agent’s idea of a “lot of work” would be. Probably House Number 3. All of a sudden I was realising why House Number 2 was around £20k more than the two horrors I had just seen …

House Number 5
I knew I wouldn’t buy this one as soon as I arrived. It backs onto the A2. What part of “please don’t show me any houses that back onto the A2” did the agent not understand I wonder. Nice man showed me round, told me all about his wife’s cancer. Cheerful. Can’t really remember much about the house as they had a 5 month old kitten. I’d definitely put an offer in on the kitten but the fact that you can see cars bombing down the A2 at 70 mph the second you set foot in the garden confirmed all my fears and reservations. Note to self: next time you are driving down the A2, keep to the speed limit and turn the music down. The noise is really really annoying for the people backing onto it.

House Number 6
My other favourite on paper and I think I always knew this one was going to be a huge let-down “in the flesh”. Loitered outside for ages waiting for the agent who was late while the local Neighbourhood Watch witches twitched their curtains and looked at me as if I was casing the joint. I would have thought that the fact that I was standing outside a house with a For Sale sign holding estate agent’s particulars and looking at my watch would have given my true purpose away but maybe I just look like a very shifty double bluffing criminal mastermind. Anyway, the house was not worth the wait. Pleasant enough downstairs (but in need of a good clean). Upstairs was pathetic. Tiny bedrooms and a lovely view out of the master bedroom of – you guessed it – the cars whizzing past on the A2 (turn your music down and keep to the speed limit , you inconsiderate bastards). The garden was nice though, but you don’t buy a house for the garden unless your name is Alan Titchmarsh. And mine isn’t.

House Number 7
I’m bored by now and my mind has turned to lunch. Unfortunately I was being accompanied by the estate agent from House Number 6 so I couldn’t think of a quick enough excuse to get out of the next one. It’s a 2 bed, it only has a shower (I hate showers) and is on the “wrong” side of the road it’s on. I couldn’t even remember why I was viewing it but think it had something to do with my desparation to see and love House Number 6 and when the agent suggested we swing by this one afterwards I said “yes” to keep him sweet.

Oh my God, I LOVE House Number 7. It is your typical 30s terrace from outside but inside it’s an ultra-modern party palace. The decor is 100% my taste, there’s room to put a bath in and it has a very cool loft conversion that adds all sorts of potential. The garden has palm trees (which I have always wanted) and the garage has been converted into a party room/gym. The owner is a DJ and uses it to sort his set lists. So it’s a screeching show tunes room for me. It’s the sort of house a grown-up would hate, that will be a nightmare to sell on but I don’t care, I want it. It’s £18k cheaper than the other house (number 2) that I want as well, which makes it even more attractive.

House Number 8
Still reeling from House Number 7 I dragged myself on to the final appointment of the day. Really not fussed about this one, I genuinely can’t remember why I was viewing it and am none the wiser after the viewing. Owned by a retired couple who seem to think that a major selling point for me is the fact that everybody on the road is retired (how old do I look these days for God’s sake?!), horrific decor straight out of the 1960s and a second (empty) bedroom so small that the vendor and I can’t both stand in it at the same time (and no, neither of us are massively fat).

After all that I’m completely exhausted and return home more depressed than ever that I have another week on the market with the Estate Agent from Hell (the false advertising that is my local Your MOVE – nothing connected with this company involves moving and no aspepct of their customer service puts any emphasis on the “you” in “Your”) before I can switch to the Halifax who are bound to get a sale as they actually answer their phones when you ring up (this is hardly radical I know but a major step forward on what I’ve put up with for the last 13 weeks).

I’ve got one more house to see today and then it’s offer time, followed by a few weeks of getting hopes up before I lose the pair of them to those aforementioned chain-free bastards and have to start all over again.

Oh well, it keeps me out the pub.

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