Our selling process (so far)

I have said previously that I had misjudged the market massively and was super scared that we wouldn’t sell. There were two other very similar houses for sale on our estate when ours hit the market in July. Both had been on for ages – one since March, one since May, I think. Both of them had just changed estate agents – neither of which were the same as ours. But we crossed our fingers and hoped that the few differences between our houses would make the difference in our favour: our layout is slightly different and we have a bigger kitchen but slightly smaller lounge than the others, making ours a proper kitchen diner, plus we have two parking spaces right in front of the house. We went for £5k more than both of those, and £5k under the estate agent valuation.

As I said on the estate agent post, the house went live on the 07/07 and straight away we had a viewing booked for the next day – Saturday – and then it all went quiet for a couple of days. We then had a viewing on the Tuesday. Then on the Wednesday we had our first feedback: the first viewer thought our second double bedroom was too small for his son, the second viewers liked it but also viewed one with the small kitchen/big lounge and were going to decide which one they liked best.

The following Saturday we had another viewing, then one on the Friday after that, and another booked for Saturday. I was very very deflated with the lack of viewings to be honest – the estate agent said we would probably get 20-ish (as opposed to the 50+ they were getting the year before!) and I was envisaging this drip drip of one-viewing-a-week for months. Then the estate agent called: Friday viewer wanted a second viewing the next day. We arranged it not to clash with the previously booked Saturday viewer and by the end of that Saturday we had an offer – we said no to the first one but the second one was in the range we had agreed to say yes to.

Now, I was tempted to say no, because this was only 2 weeks + 1 day in, but we had only had 5 viewings in those 2 weeks and I was afraid that, if we said no, they would have walked away and we wouldn’t have another offer, so we accepted it.

It hit us with a mix of relief and panic: we didn’t have solicitors lined up, we hadn’t seen a single house on the other end. (And I have to say I felt a bit sorry for the neighbours too, as they were still on the market at that point – one still is now 🙁 ) The mortgage survey happened shortly after and we got a solicitor that same week as well. All seems to be moving ok at the moment on the sales side – we’ve had the draft contract this week, estate agent has told me that the buyers’ mortgage has been approved and it’s all good to go. They don’t have anything to sell, which makes everything much easier on that side of the chain.

Christmas in the new house is looking likely now!

Searching for an estate agent

On the last post before the break, we were two weeks away from getting the estate agents in to value the house. This is how we chose ours.

We are in an area full of estate agents. Big, small, corporate. The competition is fierce and I think that makes picking one harder. I think the advice I had read was to get three in to value and then choose one. But there were so so many and I ended up asking 5. One of them only rang once and I couldn’t get through when I rang back so that one got the chop early. Four of them visited over a period of a week – the week of the 12/06, a week later than I would have liked. I chose to go with the less chain-type and more local, family business agents in my area. The first one was lovely, local and appeared to be knowledgeable about the market. The second one valued the house at a ridiculously high price – we would never ever sell at that price. The third one gave a valuation similar to the first one but was a walking-talking estate agent stereotype. And the fourth one was again lovely, local and knowledgeable, but valued the house a bit below what we were expecting.

As you can imagine, it was a toss up between the first and the last. I had the first one over again the following week to meet my husband, to see if he agreed with my judgement. He did, so we signed up with them the following week and booked the photographer for the week after – cue mad painting/cleaning/decluttering. The house went on Rightmove on the 07/07. So, as you can see, it was a long process – this was because of estate agent’s and photographer’s availability.

 My top 3 tips for choosing a estate agent are:

Find a estate agent you like. There is nothing worse than dealing with people you dislike or don’t trust. Would you buy from the person you are dealing with? Are they knowledgeable about the type of property and the area you are selling?

Research! And don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are websites where you can find how many weeks a estate agent takes to sell and what percentage of the asking price they achieve. If you can’t find those, you can ask. Ask about their database. Ask on which property websites they list on – Rightmove is the most popular one, so I would say that’s the minimum requirement, but Zoopla is a good to have. Ask what is included in their fee: is EPC extra? Is the photographer extra?

Photos and floorplans matter. Look at other listings by the estate agent on Rightmove: does it have a floorplan? Are the photos nice? Ask the estate agent who takes their photos – professional photographer with a DSLR will nearly always be better than estate agent with an iPhone. Some people won’t even bother viewing a property that doesn’t have a floorplan – plus it helps people decide early if it’s the property for them or not, therefore reducing the amount of time-wasters. You only want potential buyers to view!

If anyone stumbles across this blog and want to leave your top tip for choosing a estate agent, feel free to leave a comment!

Oh dear!

Ok, I’ve let it slide. BUT – I’m back 😀 and I will update it with everything that has happened and everything that is happening.

First off, how I got on with the list I wrote on my last post.

  • Find a self storage place and reserve a spot for next weekend

After much googling and price comparing and quoting, we went with Big Yellow. They had a 50% off the first 8 weeks, so were the cheapest and also one of the closest, meaning I didn’t have to go across town every time I needed to take something in – and I had to go multiple times, as I only have a fiat panda! We crossed our fingers that we wouldn’t need it beyond the 8 weeks and we didn’t (but more on that on following posts, ha!).

What you need to know: when looking for storage, you will most likely need to pay a deposit, insurance and buy a padlock on top of the quoted price. We paid one week’s deposit – not sure that varies according to your storage place, but I would check. I had a quick search for padlocks before going and found that most DIY stores sell similar quality items for similar prices to Big Yellow, so I saved myself a trip to the shops and bought their one. If you have one at home, great, no need to spend money on that! We got the deposit and a couple of days worth of storage refunded when we moved out.

  • Find a window/glass person to replace the smashed pane in the kitchen

Husband arranged that one. It was reasonably pricey and a bit messy but quick. It is great having a decent looking window again.

  • Try to fix my conservatory blinds

Now, this is a funny one. A couple of months ago, we went to a local blinds and curtains shop and asked if they could fix our roof blind. The cat had climbed on it and something had snapped, so it was bulging down – not sure how else to describe it, but it looked like a hammock hanging from the ceiling rather than flat? Anyway, we paid £30 for the privilege of a visit to see what they could do. On the arranged day, two youngsters came in, had a look and nope, can’t fix it. So I asked if they could quote me for a new one. They measured for it but we never got a quote, and husband – who had arranged the whole thing – never chased it up. We decided we were just going to remove it for when we had viewings etc. But not before I had a look myself. It took me 20 minutes and a tapestry needle to fix it myself and it’s now back up and working just fine.

  • Test sugar soap on the white walls to see if we can get away with not painting them

Sugar soap has been the biggest revelation of this whole thing. It’s amazing! Though trial and error I found that fabric dust sheets (or, I suppose, just normal floor cloths) are much better than plastic one – my sore bottom would agree, just don’t do it! – and that the ready made stuff is more practical than the concentrated one that you need to dilute in a bucket. All my walls looked brilliant after being washed and I saved loads of painting.

Top tip for smaller spaces: obviously, if you’re doing a big area, it will be better to have buckets. But for smaller walls, I would recommend a spray ready made bottle of sugar soap, a spray bottle of water to wash it off and two good quality sponges. I started off with normal (brand new!) kitchen ones and after one wall they were good for the bin. I ended up buying decorator’s foam ones from B&Q and they are a bit expensive compared to the kitchen ones but they are worth it.

Everything that needed doing was done, at the expense of not having much time to write by the end of the day – it was exhausting, but very much worth it. If you have a look on my Instagram, you will see a few bits and pieces from the bedrooms, lounge and garden. I was so pleased when I finished that I nearly changed my mind about moving… 😀

Schedule for the week – 21 to 27th May

It’s been a mostly unproductive couple of weeks, with my monthly cold being slightly worse than previously. Maybe I need to see a doctor about it – the fact that I am getting them very often rather than it’s taken a bit longer to shift this time. The weekend, however, was quite good considering I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing Zuma and watching Pointless.

I finally painted the inside of my front door, installed the landing light that arrived yesterday and started painting the family bathroom. I have done behind the towel heater radiator, which is the most painful bit, and just need to do the rest now – should still finish today as more than half of it is tiled. Husband is busy with the garden, which deserves a whole post on its own, but he is making great progress.

Now here the essential tasks schedule for this week:

  • Find a self storage place and reserve a spot for next weekend
  • Find a window/glass person to replace the smashed pane in the kitchen
  • Try to fix my conservatory blinds
  • Test sugar soap on the white walls to see if we can get away with not painting them

Now, I promise I am not being lazy, but I am a bit worried that if I start painting the stairs wall, it won’t look right. I am not terribly tall and I don’t think I could use a ladder on the stairs, since I don’t have the appropriate equipment. I could probably get away with a pole but then, the ceiling. So I am really hoping the sugar soap will do the job. It’s only a couple of walls anyway, so fingers crossed.

We also need to decide the destiny of our old microwave, which husband wanted to return to Panasonic when it stopped working after 18 months of use, but has been sitting in our kitchen floor for a bit longer than that.

Two weeks until we get the estate agents in. Starting to feel nervous (and very real).

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want

This is a funny post to write, but I think it needs to be out there and it will help to guide us through the tortuous process of picking a new home. We have an imaginary wish list – we often talk about the must-haves and the thing that we don’t like -, but hasn’t been on ‘paper’ until now.

We have watched enough Location, location, location to know that we might have to compromise when the time comes, unless we win the lottery in the mean time. But if we could afford everything on the list, this is what the house would look like:

  • By the sea
  • At least three bedrooms, with more room for a playroom and two separate studies
  • A big kitchen or space to extend
  • A big garden
  • A utility room so I don’t have to look/stumble at my washing when drying inside 😀
  • Loads of light

Actually, when I look at it, written down like that, it doesn’t seem all that impossible. The tricky bit is the ‘by the sea’ – houses in our price bracket don’t come around often and don’t hang around for too long when they do. But we are happy to drive 10-15 minutes for the sea if everything else is right.

Now, the stuff we would like to avoid:

  • Beams – husband hates them and, whilst I don’t mind much, they generally come in cottagey types, with low ceiling which I very much dislike
  • Artex ceiling – I am generally not phased by challenge, but I really wouldn’t like to move into a house that needs ceiling plastering.

I can’t think what else has been discussed now, but there might be updated posts in the future about this!

(If this was a public blog I would be asking for your wish lists – so if you happen to stumble upon this, please, do share! 🙂 )