Sunday, February 22, 2004

House quest

End of week seven, the stats look like this:

No. of flats viewed (some 2 or even three times) - 40+
No. of offers submitted - 3
No. of other people looking for flats with similar criteria - at least 500

Today we encountered the first queue out the door - of course it was the place we have liked the most so far, and because of the extra competition, are unlikely to be able to afford (bidding war, anyone?). There seem to be a lot of mums & dads shopping with their kids (and contributing heftily to the deposit, too). We had looked at in on Thursday already, and tried to sneak in an early offer first thing Friday, but there were already two other notes of interest. The sellers like us, greeted us like old friends today, but sadly, that's not enough to close a deal in this mad market.

Saw and greatly enjoyed The Barbarian Invasions this weekend. The dialogue is excellent, electric, and the film moving without being even slightly sentimental.

It feels like snow is in the air again...

Sunday, February 15, 2004

News break at the BAFTAs
...which should really by BAFAs since there's no telly in the awards.

I have no idea why Girl With A Pearl Earring has been nominated for so many awards (just about every one!) - it's really just a nice looking film where not much happens. LOTR3's tally is two so far - cinematography and the Orange (aka people's choice) award - up against such strong competition as Matrix Reloaded and Bruce Almighty! Orange make the most fantastic cinema ads - anyone in the UK will be familiar with them, but for those further afield, their theme is "don't let a mobile phone ruin your movie" (ie switch your phone off). They're a series of satirical looks at pitching films and the Hollywood studio system / corporate sponsorship - so knowing and richly textured, you can watch them again and again and appreciate them each time (which is lucky, given the frequency with which I visit the cinema).

Speaking of cinema, saw School of Rock last night. It rocked! Jack Black rocks! Highly recommended as a piece of cheesy, but not schmaltzy, fun.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

poor neglected blog...I've been rather inattentive of late, preoccupied by other enterprises. Extremely frustrating enterprises they have been too. Aaah, the joys of househunting in the solicitor-driven lottery of a Scottish purchase system. I wasn't going to blog until we actually found a place, but that could spell the end of my blog for good. For those not in the know, here's how things work:

1. Join the logjam scanning the ESPC website every Tuesday lunchtime/evening (when most new places are listed).

2. Follow a tight schedule on Thursday night (inevitably in the rain or snow), looking at masses of grotty places that you can barely afford because you foolishly want to live in the city rather than the suburbs or, worse, the country. Stinky stairs, bathrooms without baths (a bath is a rare commodity), kitchens without sinks, bizarre, unworkable layouts (and ye cannae just knock out walls - everything is masonry here). Either that or the carbon copy "new kitchen for sale", all "blonde" wood and granite tops, installed by folk who have been watching Property Ladder, House Doctor and the like, and increased the value of their homes by the book.

3. Repeat on Sunday between 2 & 4pm to see if "south-facing" really faces south (can be hard to gauge when raining/snowing).

4. As soon as you see a place you like and might be able to afford, "note interest" via solicitor. Get them to scan their secret squirrel database and find out what other properties in the street sold for. Try to sneak in an early offer (this never works).

5. Try to figure out how much to offer. Most properties are advertised as "offers over" £ xyz. The guideline we were given when we first started looking was that properties generally sell between 15-30% over this price. In reality, it's more like 50% or more just now. In calculating a figure, it seems to be 90% gut instinct - how much to pay to beat the competition (today we were up against 21 other offers on one place, and 9 on the other), without paying way over the value of the property (cos then you'll have trouble bridging the gap between what you can borrow and what you have to pay as a deposit - aaagh!!!). Also a weird thing is that you seem to pay a premium just now for places that need some DIY.

6. Submit your offer by the closing date set, and wait for the results of the blind auction, all the while redecorating in your head and imagining yourself living in the place you won't be able to buy...

7. Miss out by a tiny margin and curse not offering that bit extra to stave off the competition.

8. see 1

It's a vicious cycle, that today leaves me grieving for two equally lovable though quite different flats that we almost bought.