What we didn’t realise was that our chain hadn’t just been yanked with the first potential purchase but it had become increasingly longer due to an increase in the number of links. Our Vendors were in turn hoping to purchase a house in another area altogether and were also sale agreed. That house was also part of a chain in that area and so we had inadvertently joined two chains. The actual number involved in the sale was never fully made known but we heard that it was 7+ and we were second from the bottom.
Firstly our purchaser had gone and completed his sale against the advice of his solicitor because he didn’t want to lose his own house sale and without mentioning this to anyone else in the chain, especially ourselves and was now homeless.
While in our Vendor role we had mentioned to him that we could move out and stay with my better half's mother if it came down to it. What he interpreted from that was that we would move out even if we didn’t have a house so as he could move in. What he didn’t fully grasp was that that idea was a short-term idea of 7 -10 days max and not for an unknown number of months and I mention months for the following reason.
Our Vendor who was in sale agreed with the house in another area was hoping to complete well before Christmas but just found out that the Vendor of that house had no intention of moving out before Christmas as being retail owners, that was their busiest time and most profitable and they couldn’t possibly move in the middle of that and that the house they were after, which was their family home, had fallen through and they had nowhere to go. The family had all fallen out and I’ll get to the why in a minute. They were still willing to sell but would need time to look for rented accommodation and that would mean they wouldn’t be out before mid-January to early February. Hence the more illuminating definition of the length of time we were willing to stay with the mother-in-law!
So now our purchaser wants in asap as he has to vacate his property very soon because it isn’t his anymore and is threatening to pull the plug on purchasing ours and we really want into our new house but the vendors being from Dublin and also a family, have nowhere to go temporarily up here while they wait on the retailers moving out.
We don't want the move to turn sour or turf a family out on the street either but if it comes down to it what can we do?
After much telephoning it is agreed by all parties involved that the 12th January is D-Day. We have a date.
Now back to the retailers and the reason for their purchase of their family home having fallen through. Word has it that the daughter, who was intending to purchase the family home was having an affair with the estate agent in charge of the sale and supposedly representing the rest of the family's interests.
They in turn had made a Faustian pact whereby the estate agent would place the family home on the market well below market value but not too low to raise suspicion, sell it to her, split the profits and then resell it to a developer to build houses on the very large property and they would get a share of that transaction also.
Unknown to them, the family found out about the affair and had the property discretely re-valued. When they found out the ‘conflict of interest’ discrepancy involved they called a halt to the proceedings.
Plus later we found out that the purchaser didn’t want to move before Christmas not just for the reasons already stated but also mainly because the 22 year ‘kid’ who was at college in Dublin, would be too upset to move before Christmas.....like WTF, he's 22 for God’s sake, it's not as if he’s in fuck’n kindergarten!
And to top it all off, my better half develops an illness that requires an operation but with our health system in the state it is, that will not be for at least 11 months so she is in agony and taking pain killers daily. Which reduces her ability to help with the packing!
So as the days roll around to the glorious 12th, other subtle little nuances pop up like in our potential new house the searches have unearthed an area of the property, the size of a back door, that isn’t registered in the deeds lodged at the Land & Registry office which means the bank will not release the mortgage as we wouldn’t own the full property, the Vendor hasn’t supplied the correct property certification for his building work and there is an outstanding court order that is basically demanding he knock down his extension as it doesn’t comply with the conservation area the house is in....this is the first we discover that the house is in a conservation area. Also, neither has his gas conversion safety certification arrived.
Also, to cap it all off and send anxiety levels through the roof, his purchase has fallen through the floor because the retailer’s mother of the house he was hoping to purchase has up and died, the inconsiderate bitch!
She, owned a part of the daughters house that was up for sale and now that she has died it will have to go to probate...that can take 6 to 8 months to complete so that sale has fallen through!
More frantic phone calls with pressure levels going through the roof and a hardening of sentiments that ring fence our own needs and he agrees to move out anyway as he doesn’t want to lose our purchase. His better half's sister has agreed to move out of her house and give it to them for two months until they can find a house to move in to permanently...no idea where the sister lives or where she is going to live nor could we care!
As the day draws closer we seek advice from our solicitor as to whether the move is going to go ahead what with everything outstanding, and should we bother packing and ordering a removal company? His advice is to proceed but be aware that it may not complete in time and that it could run on in to the following week(s) before it all finally completes.
I firmly make it known to him and our estate agent that we can’t afford to over-run the deadline for one we don’t want to lose our purchaser and we have no budget for temporary storage and if it doesn’t go ahead on the 12th then it isn’t going ahead at all. They both contact the Vendor's solicitor and estate agent and make this very clear to them to get their skates on. There is no over-run in to the following week(s). We’ll simply walk away and look elsewhere.
And so, we half-heartedly begin packing. It is only when you start this part that you realise just how much crap that you gather up in life.
For instance, my man cave, the garage, had various lengths of copper piping, copper piping for God's sake, that I had kept just in case of a leak. These we believe had been in there for well over 10 years along with half empty tins of paint and other paraphernalia that proved useless. Several runs to the re-cycling soon cleared that all out. In the house, we discovered that we all had quite a number of coats of which most were never worn.....it bordered on greed of a sorts. So we continued to pack and the house filled up with boxes and space quickly became a premium. We reduced our necessities such as cups and plates down to one each so if you happen to break your cup or plate, it was too bad!
The removal company came and did a site visit and decided to load up the garage contents the day before to save time on the actual day. This was an excellent idea. Before leaving they enquired if the move was still going ahead and I responded that we really didn’t know but to turn up tomorrow anyway. I also enquired if they provided storage in case it didn’t and they said yes and bid us adieu and left.
The certificates and the court order debacle drags on until 10 to 5 on the day before we move. To say we were anxious is an understatement. We received the phone call from our solicitor that it has all been sorted out and we are all stations go for tomorrow.
On the morning of the move the removal company arrived and began packing. It is only when they begin to move your furniture that you realise just how little actual furniture you have. Yes you have the sofa and chairs, a kitchen table and chairs, beds and wardrobes but after that there is very little to move. The kitchen isn’t coming, neither is the bathroom suite or the cubby hole under the stairs, the pantry nor the fireplace. Their contents are though and they are all packed in to various sized boxes commandeered from local shops and other places.
All parties have to out of their house by 12 noon and keys handed over to the estate agent. Once the keys are handed over it becomes a waiting game and did we wait!
Our vendor didn’t seem to understand the urgency of the matter and especially the cost of removals and while he dilly-dallied about with his packing we were paying for the lorries sitting outside his house with our minimalist worldly positions in them. By about 3 0’clock I had had enough and rang him to spur him on, eventually jumping in the car and going around to tell him that he had enough time and it was time to go, beat it mate.
We unpacked the lorries, and the removal company were extremely considerate and didn’t charge us for loading up the garage the day before as it wasn’t our fault that we were messed around so much. Quite an unexpected consideration!
The next time I move it will be feet first out the front door and hopefully up to that heavenly house in the sky. Selling, buying and moving house is definitely one of the most stressful activities that you can participate in.
The one aspect of it that stood out for me was the mood swings and how inconsiderate, selfish and ruthless a person becomes as the process develops. It is definitely not a humane activity but a manifestation of the extreme selfish aspects of capitalism.....
Sean Mallory is a Tyrone republican and TPQ columnist