This is going to be more of a vent than a proper blog post. So bear with me and make me feel better please!
We found a flat in Furzedown and it so much better than everything else online. I showed it to friends and family and just felt like it was the one (and everyone else seemed to agree). Unlike a lot of flats in frankly, fancier areas closer to the centre of London, this wasn’t ex council or above a chicken shop. It’s in a lovely big street and is a ‘proper house’, sure, I’m not getting the whole house but the rooms were big – it’s high and bright. Look at those windows! I’m in love!
So went to view it on Tuesday and we decided to put an offer on then and there. The next day the owners said they liked our position but needed it to go up slightly. So we offered slightly more – and Voila! We got it. Champagne (or Aldi fizz) all round!
Hang on, so what you moaning about?
Right – the Estate agent told us that the lease was 99 years on the flat – fine. BUT NO. When my boyfriend emailed to confirm the lease, it was bloody only 83 years!
Which doesn’t sound bad, but it kind of is. Anything under 80 years, you can’t sell the place, so will have to pay to extend the lease, which will cost about 10-15k, which we just can’t afford. And it will cost even more if you let the lease drop to under 80 years (my friend Jenny wrote a brill piece on it at MoneySavingExpert if you want to know the nitty gritty). It’s so annoying – I don’t understand why the lease system is like this. Is it just someone who owns the actual land?! Do they own the house too? Why is it not renting if someone else owns the house?! QUESTIONS!
So obviously, we’re both gutted. We’ve asked the estate agent to go back and tell them we can’t go ahead unless they extend the lease, but we don’t have high hopes. I’ll update you when I know more.
Questions I have for estate agents
So as you can imagine, estate agents are not my favourite people right now. I don’t know if these are universal experiences, but here are a few things I’ve noticed since going on this flat hunting journey which I’d love to actually ask one to their face, but can’t – because I’m not a psycho (it would be rather rude eh!?).
- Are you lying about this property existing?
So you look on Rightmove, see the selection (mostly terrible) and think ‘Ok, this is what’s on offer, what can I deal with’ and then you see a gem. A flat that fits all your requirements and is totally affordable. You call up, and they get shifty, ‘Oh, I don’t think you can see that one, it’s been sold’. You think, oh well – next time.
Then, a few weeks later, it turns up again. So straight on the phone to ask for a viewing. More shiftiness, and then I get told it’s gone again BUT it has other properties we can view (which are rubbish compared to that one).
Is it me, or is this a bit fishy?
- Why do you keep showing me properties I can’t afford?
This one is annoying because it breaks my heart a bit. They call you up, say that they have the perfect for you (or when viewing a different one, tell you there’s another one around the corner). We find we just follow then view – and it’s amazing. It’s everything you could possibly want because it’s 60k over budget!
You then find yourself having the discussion, ‘Do you think they’d consider 60k less? It has been on the market for a year…’, ‘What if they would take 40k less, could we find 20k from somewhere?’.
But the reality is, you can’t. And I *think* they wanted you to get excited so you do find the extra cash. I don’t know… why else would they do it?
- Why are you calling me all day?
Honestly, before flat hunting, if someone called me, I’d have assumed someone had died. Who calls strangers these days? For me, it’s all about the cold comfort of an email exchange! ha! I prefer it because I’m firmer and direct on email, but also there’s a record of what’s being said. I’m talking to so many estate agents and looking at so many properties I’m finding it hard to keep track.
More importantly, I’m not really able to just chat on the phone at work. Who can though? I’m assuming the majority of people who can afford to buy somewhere are working in the day time right? So why the constant calling asking me if I’ve considered solicitors yet, or where I am in the search. Email me. Please!
- I want to trust you. I really do. Why are you making this so hard?
I’ve seen properties with five different estate agents now, and they are all so different. There are a couple I’ve seen who I really like (they seem genuine), and then there was another one that was clearly BSing us. Telling us that all the areas than ours were awful, and this was THE only place.
This happened (and it took A LOT) to keep my mouth shut. He was like, ‘ You have to understand that the property market is a lot like being at an actual market. Right now, I have 20 apples, yet there are 100 people who want to buy apples. I’m able to price the apples however I want.’ I nearly spat bile until he said he thought we were 19 – so was instantly forgiven.
I just want proper information. Honest info, like ‘This is good, in a bit of a shit area – but it really is all you’re going to get for the money’, or ‘Trust me, this is as good as it gets.’ I didn’t want to be that person who labels estate agents as untrustworthy, I went in with 100% trust, and am feeling a bit burned.
What do you think? Am I being harsh? Did you experience trustworthy ones?
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