Sunday, 16 September 2012

Man plans. The housing market laughs.


It's just over a year since I decided to resurrect my dream of owning my own land. I knew that the housing market could be the thing that scuppered my plans and indeed that has proved to be the case. These days I try not to plan ahead too far as I'm a firm believer in the maxim 'Man plans, God laughs' but I thought I'd have a go anyway. I'm also a firm believer that if something is meant to be it will happen. Or not. I have previously bought and sold a few properties as I inched my way up the property ladder aiming for the top rung, which in my case involves a shack or equivalent in a good sized field. For me the house is pretty immaterial and as long as it has a roof it would do. The goal was the land. But twelve months later my house remains unsold, despite a rather drastic drop from the surveyor's valuation that reduced my vision of land speculation requirements to half an acre of scrub with a corrugated tin shelter in the corner. We're now at the point where reducing the house price any further will require a move to the Outer Hebrides to be able to afford the tin shack let alone any land. So I've decided that fate is telling me something and when the contract with the Estate Agent concludes next week I won't be renewing it. I'm taking it off the market. It's time to work out if there's any other way that I can get to where I want to be. The ideas list is completely blank at the moment but who knows when inspiration may strike.
Having your house on the market introduces you to all sorts of people and after a year of allowing numerous strangers to wander about my home and peer into my cupboards I've become experienced at spotting the 'Viewing Tourists'. They've all been here. One lady came every month for three months, expressing delight and enthusiasm. I must have made her too welcome as we sat in the garden with coffee and homemade cake.

 When the fourth month arrived along with her phone call she was devastated when I suggested that she only came back when her own house was actually marketed and under offer. I note that her house remains steadfastly un-marketed. We were on first name terms. It was like losing a friend and I almost missed her for a while. Almost. But my real friends don't expect an immaculate house and garden when they call. Or that the dogs are banned outside to the stable while they sit in front of the wood-burning stove  telling me where they'd put various articles of furniture. And, funnily enough they don't tend to rummage about in the cupboards and wardrobes or peek into the bathroom cabinets. At least not in my presence anyway. That's a point - maybe they do? I could always surprise them on their bathroom visits to see what they're really up to. This could be a real test of friendship.
Then there was the couple who, from the depths of my built in wardrobe, gaily announced that they 'weren't looking to buy yet or indeed for another two years but they do so enjoy seeing what's on the market every Saturday'. Somehow I resisted the urge to clock them with the sledgehammer as they mulled over my tool collection in the garage but that was only because I couldn't lift it.
I'm lucky to live in a beautiful area and it attracts it's fair share of tourists.
Courtesy of  Bill Haley Photography
 I've lost count of the number of holiday makers who have viewed the house with absolutely no intention of moving here. I was starting to wonder if it had somehow been listed by The Scottish Tourist Board as one of the attractions of The Solway Coast Heritage Trail. I think I may have missed a trick by failing to charge for admission. That might have funded the purchase of a small country estate by now.
In the last week my estate agent  forwarded yet another offer of the asking price from someone with property to sell in England. I keep a list of all the viewers and didn't recognise the name so asked the agent to confirm when the prospective purchaser had viewed. They hadn't. Never viewed the house, never been to the area or even to Scotland!  But they 'love what we've seen on the Internet' and 'have fallen in love with the house' and 'if only we can sell our house we want it'. For an evil fleeting second and in my incredulity I was tempted to let them become embroiled in the legalities of house buying in Scotland whereby a formal offer is binding and begins the legal process which can prove frighteningly costly to pull out of, but I relented. After all it's nice to hear that people love my home and the surrounding area. Even virtually.
And also this week there's been the one who really persuaded me that I was no longer open to having viewers. Despite being repeatedly told that it wasn't convenient he insisted he could only view the following day. I left it with a firm but polite 'No' and said that if he wanted to arrange a mutually convenient time he could phone back. I was therefore more than a little irritated when the following day, while I was preparing to attend a funeral, the dogs alerted me to the fact that he was in the garden, creeping past the front door to sneak round the back having stupidly ignored the prominent 'Beware of the Dogs' sign on the gate.

Tess -  I love burglars.
 Really I'd never have let them out if he'd had any manners.
Rolf-   A burglar!  Yummy!
He was actually amazingly fast and the sight of him cornered in the Forsythia positively restored my good humour. Strangely it had the opposite effect on his. Good dogs. His univited presence reminded me of the couple who I found peeping in the bedroom window who narrowly missed the admittedly disturbing sight of me wearing only a bath towel on my head. I don't know who got the greater shock that time.So it's actually quite a relief to withdraw from the sport. It's just not my cup of tea and as you see my tolerance level for time wasters has become dangerously low. It's a good job I'm not one of those country types who keeps a twelve-bore in the cupboard. And if it wasn't for the very large problem of the horses I'm very happy here and wouldn't even have resurrected my dream of owning my own land. Especially now as the geese are flying in with the wonderfully discordant music of their calls and the swallows are gathering on the wires - oh a bit more about the swallows next time.
So I'll  hunker down and wait and see what ideas or options might evolve, safe in the knowledge that I don't have to smile and invite strangers into my home. Antisocial? Me? That'll be about right.


  1. I've only ever sold one house after just two viewings and now I don't think I could move again. I couldn't bear that constant invasion of privacy and need for tidiness. The latter certainly doesn't come easily in our house.

    It sounds as though now's the time to appreciate what you have, although I do hope your wish comes true one day.

  2. Thanks Karen, if it's meant to be it will happen. It seems that now isn't the time though and I'm very lucky to have what I've got. I certainly do appreciate it:-)