What it’s REALLY like trying to buy a flat in London

WARNING: This is an epic rant, grab a bar of chocolate and a shot of vodka to get you through it.

STH29GAZUMPED01_372505kWe had an offer accepted on a flat three months ago and this week it fell through but I’m not heartbroken, instead I’m disgusted by the entire process.

We wrote a letter to the seller three weeks ago because the sale was moving so slowly and no one could tell us what was happening. They rang us and explained that the property they were buying fell through and to decorate their new place they’d like an extra £5,000 from us. Okay, they didn’t put it that way but I knew what they meant when they said “we won’t have any money leftover once we buy our new place”. Well, it’s not our problem and it’s not up to us to provide you with the funds for paints and drapes. I was so furious I literally couldn’t talk without raising my voice and littering every sentence with expletives, which is pretty normal, just not around my boyfriend’s mother.

This dickery, unfortunately, seems to be standard practice now. A couple my boyfriend knows were recently asked for another £25,000 because the market had moved since their offer was accepted. They had to pull out of the sale, losing £4,000, whilst she was 7 months pregnant. Fortunately not everyone out there suffers from blackmailing tendencies and they managed to buy somewhere better, before the baby was born.

Sadly, there are many gazumpers out there and they are a filthy breed, a bit like the creatures in The Descent, and they aren’t just the people who want to get in on what you’ve already got, they’re also the people living behind the door of the property that you’re buying. So, if you’re buying, be prepared to be asked for more money, even though you already paid 25% over the asking price. It seems that the market is being driven by these Descent-like blackmailers, or as I like to call them, %&@*$^&!*.

What these brain dead twads don’t seem to understand is that in London, if you’re selling a property, the price will go up a few weeks later, it’s just that kind of market (at this moment it is, anyway). However, if you want to sell your property, you can’t extort money out of every single person, especially seeing as you’re, more often than not, asking them to hand you a brown envelope and not disclose it, forcing the buyer into shady dealings. Its all just so… grimy.

Whilst I was seething with disgust at the %&@*$^&!* we were dealing with, we then discovered the freeholder had a clause in the lease that meant we couldn’t extend out into the garden. Well, great, because the flat is pretty crap right now and we don’t actually want to live in what they’re selling, especially not when they’re trying to extort more money out of us for their cruddy bit of property. We only wanted the property for its potential, not what it currently is. This led us to the event which very nearly caused me to have a rage induced aneurysm.

I still get Rightmove and Zoopla instant alerts for properties in the area we’re buying in. I like to keep my options open. On Wednesday night last week I received an email from Rightmove WITH THE PROPERTY WE’RE BUYING back on the market. Talk about dickery, I mean come on. They were the ones who’d been dragging the bloody process out for months anyway. My boyfriend had to shield himself under a blanket to avoid the spit storm I was emitting.

The only inclination that we had that this was happening was that my boyfriend had a missed call whilst he was at work. He teaches, he can’t answer his phone. Did they call me? Did they daisies. Why? I don’t know, maybe it’s because I am a woman and I’ve noticed that estate agents don’t like to deal with women unless they’re trying to get more money. Well, let me tell you, I am just as capable of dealing with information as my boyfriend, unless it’s maths related, but that’s my own issue, NOT because I’m a woman. And yes, they have my number, I have rung them often. In fact, I’d spoken to them three days before asking them to contact the freeholder. Even the women are sexist in their offices, what the hell is happening? Anyway, that’s a whole other issue.

I rang them last Thursday morning and I stated that their shit-stick approach was unacceptable (I kept my cool, it’s wonderful what sleep can do for my rage) but apparently they feel they covered their backs because they ‘tried to get in touch’ with us. Did they daisies. They were trying to worm around the issue and boy do I hate worming. We’ve just exterminated a plague of moth larvae and I have no qualms in exterminating my good will with estate agents. So, we’ve pulled out of the sale, we’ve wasted months but thankfully, not money. We’re smart like that and also, we made sure we asked the right questions when we had our offer accepted, it just took them 3 months to answer them.

Our experience so far has shown us that no one is on your side. If you want anything done you have to fight and fight and fight because estate agents don’t actually do anything. Seriously, if you’re an estate agent explain to me what exactly it is you do? ‘Drink from the souls of first time buyers.’ Yeah, I thought so.

If we’ve adopted the US’s approach to open houses then we should also adopt their method of assigning an agent to both the seller and the buyer. My friend’s property in the US went through in 25 days because they had someone working for them, on their behalf. You don’t get that here, instead you get treated as though you’re a pest, that your concerns are a nuisance because a quarter of a million pounds means nothing to them but everything to you. It’s a crap load of money, we care how we spend it. Just remember, you’re dealing with %&@*$^&!* out there, don’t give them an inch.

On Saturday we once again turned up at a viewing with 70 other people. We put in an offer on a lovely 2 bed Victorian maisonette in Catford, we then had to increase our offer by 10%, which has tipped us into a new stamp duty bracket. This technically means we’re paying nearly 15% over the asking price. The agent told me that they don’t believe in the way the big estate agents are driving up market prices by forcing blind bidding, except that’s exactly what they went and did to us. They told me they valued the property at the asking price, it’s what it’s worth, and yet we’re offering to pay 15% over the asking price just so we have somewhere to live. I don’t believe this is a sustainable model and we could suffer for it. The only thing that comforts us is that London property is unlikely ever to really lose value.

For the record, as American dramas would say, my boyfriend took the high road and had a very amicable, gentlemanly conversation with the seller of the flat we were originally purchasing. In many ways he’s a better person than me, in most ways he’s not. But, for once in my life I’m not taking the high road, I always aim for the high road, bury my rage and endure the heartburn this induces. Today I have thrown myself down into the mud and rolled around in it and it feels so bloody glorious. Screw you Beckenham estate agents, we’re moving to Catford.

Oh no wait, that’s not a good thing is it?

Note: The F word has been replaced with daisies.


2 thoughts on “What it’s REALLY like trying to buy a flat in London

    1. Funny you should say that, it’s my few favourite word. Just be on the look out for ways of using it, I feel it needs to be used more often.

      Thank you for your kind words.


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