On 9 May 2014, almost 6 weeks after our search had begun, we saw a property advertised online which really caught our eye.
It was nothing like what we had been expecting to buy … and not much like anything we (or others) had seen elsewhere. In fact, we probably would have ignored the listing had it not been for the six weeks of disappointing viewings that we had already endured and the increasing panic that our baby was due in October and we still had not even seen a property that we wanted to offer on.
The photos you see on this page are the same photos we first saw. A pretty unusual house for the areas we were searching in. And whilst most agreed it was pretty unusual, fewer would agree it was pretty! It was however priced well within budget and located in one of the areas most well regarded roads, so we thought we would give it the chance of a viewing. What’s the worst that could happen? A wholly disappointing viewing … well we had experienced many of those, so why not one more.
We went to view on 10 May and the house looked very similar to the marketing photos you see here. It was a bright sunny day and we got on well with the young and eager estate agent, both of which definitely helped the viewing go well. The house had many characteristics which were completely contrary to our search criteria. The most peculiar of these was its layout due to having been extended piecemeal over 20 years and used by two separate families at one stage. Accordingly it had been split down the middle with two kitchens (one falling apart dangerously with appliances from the 1970s), two bathrooms (neither in great condition), a downstairs bedroom which was effectively completely uninsulated (and leading directly off from the 1970s style kitchen), two front door entrances (both hidden behind a patio wall which we later realised visitors would not walk past as they thought it was the route to the back garden not the front door), damp, cold slate floors, exposed pipework, unfinished plasterwork and a leaking conservatory, to mention a few!
But we liked it. In fact, I would go so far as to say, we loved it! It had so many things that the 30 or so other cookie-cutter houses we had previously viewed did not have. And crucially, many of those things were inherent within the house and the plot, i.e. they were not things we could later add to other houses. It was detached, located on a sought after road and well set back from the roadside sheltered behind a grand old Yew tree and raised rock garden whilst also offering parking spaces for up to four cars, well away from the pavement. It had charm and history, being well over 100 years old but did not have the drawbacks of being listed. Best of all, it felt private and safe (assuming we quickly decommissioned the second kitchen) and an appropriate ‘cave’ to bring our newborn into in the future. Almost all the things it missed versus the other houses we had seen, could theoretically be added at a later stage.
For us, it was indeed one of those moments where you knew the moment you saw it. We wanted this house more than any other we had seen. We didn’t waste any time telling the agent and made an offer at the full asking price less than an hour after the viewing. We waited eagerly for the phone to ring back to tell us our offer had been accepted as we could not imagine why it would not be: we had offered the full asking price and we in an excellent position.
The agent, Steve, called back that afternoon to tell us he was sorry but the house had already been sold to another buyer! We could not believe it. It made no sense – if it had been sold, why had we been shown it? We had offered the asking price, so if someone else had offered that also, why had we not been informed? Could we offer more? Had the house been a stalking horse to get us on the books? We were angry, full of questions and conspiracy theories. Perhaps our fatigue of the last six weeks was starting to get the better of us.
We basically hit a brick wall and the politest of repeated apologies, calmly but firmly put us in our place. We had been shown a house that we loved. We had offered the full asking price. But someone else had done the same minutes before us, so we were no longer in the running. Sorry. It’s that simple. Case shut.
Bitterly disappointed, we realised our only option was to move on. We also realised that given the shortage in suitable properties there was no point in making enemies with agents, so we responded calmly and politely stressing that we were still very keenly looking and ready to buy.
Have you experienced an immediate disappointment after offering at the asking price? Until then, we had not … and it would have been easy and understandable to accept the disappointment and move on. But instead we decided not to give up, complain or sulk.
Instead we decided to call this particular estate agent weekly like clockwork. To ask about new properties, to talk about our criteria, to ask about the weather even. Anything. Because we wanted to stay on his radar. We really did want this house and we weren’t quite ready to give up just yet! Was it worth it? Well that is still to be discovered in the future, but we can tell you that there was a twist to the above tale. Click here to read all about it.