Property owner

After five long drawn-out months, I can say that I am now officially the owner of a flat in London.

Buying a flat has been an arduous task, largely due to various people of a professional persuasion not doing things in a more timely manner. It takes far longer than it should really do. But it’s all a minefield. And as a first-time buyer, it’s a brutally steep learning curve.

We were told the sale would have to complete by 16 June a couple of weeks previously. So, the first Friday in June saw me drive to my solicitor’s office in London to sign all the paperwork in person, just to avoid any potential delays in the post or by scanning documents. That was a long, hot day. Almost reminiscent of those hot and stressful drives across Yorkshire in 2018, but only having to worry about signing my signature a few times at the end of it rather than performing on stage.

We had everything sorted on our side a good ten days before the deadline, only other things were happening in the chain – I am being coded here – and it meant we were unable to exchange contracts. This impasse continued for about another week, only to receive an email on Monday to say that if it didn’t complete on Thursday, the seller would cancel the entire thing. I have a sneaking suspicion that it may not have been her idea to threaten that, but who can possibly say?

We were ready to go anyway, so agreed – albeit with some risks of trying to do everything in a short amount of time.

So, the sale was meant to complete on Thursday. The seller who I was buying from was moving from London to the north-west and had moved out of the flat, hired a removal van, and must have almost been there at lunchtime. Because that’s when an email came through from a firm representing the person she was buying from to say that the completion date had never been agreed upon.

Thus chaos ensued, with the estate agent having a meltdown and firing off emails left, right and centre, desperately trying to resolve the situation. Presumably, things can have hardly been any calmer for someone who’d just moved 200+ miles away with all her stuff in a van, only to find out that there was no house available to move into. Fortunately, I wasn’t planning on moving in straight away, so had the luxury of sitting tight.

Thursday passed and the sale had not been completed and the seller still had nowhere to move into. Friday arrived, with no one any the wiser as to what the hell was actually happening. I called my solicitor that morning, and he said he was still waiting on the other side. So, I sat tight some more. Then at lunchtime, I sent a passive-aggressive email to everyone in the chain trying to find out what was happening and accurately described the situation as an absolute shambles. Within seconds, an email came through from my solicitor requesting authorisation to complete, which I gave. I called him again at about 4.30pm to find out if there was any update – only to be told that it was done, and I am now a property owner. I needed a beer.

I’m not 100% sure if the seller managed to get the keys to her new place in the north-west. I can only hope. But will need to get in touch anyway to get a forwarding address for mail.

So, there we have it. I now own a flat. I am going up this weekend to pick up the key, but want to redecorate before I move in fully.

What a ridiculous ride.

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