Thursday, 30 December 2010

Property decision

There is a huge problem weighing on my mind which is keeping me awake at night. Next week, I am supposed to exchange contracts on a flat I saw way back at the end of October. I knew it needed work, but it was big and bright, on the top floor of a block, and just round the corner to where I used to live, in a Highgate cottage I wish I'd never sold. Plus, it was a very good price for a 2-bed flat in that part of N. London, being under the £250,000 stamp duty level where it jumps from 1% to 3%, making a difference of around £5000 to the purchase price.

My surveyor took a look and said it needed rewiring, gas central heating installing, new kitchen, new bathroom, new flooring, total redecoration, ripping out of old fitted cupboards that were falling apart, and both balconies needed work. Weeks passed and I heard nothing from the solicitor and had kind of put it to the back of mind and forgotten about it. Then suddenly I was asked to exchange contracts before Christmas.

OMG! I hadn't even had a builder look at it to give me a quote. I threw myself into a flurry of activity and rang everyone I knew who had used builders. One in particular was recommended - a friend had used them for four property renovations - but they were Cypriots and had gone back to Cyprus until Jan 10th. I found another, but the day we were booked to go round the flat, the weather was so bad that we couldn't go. Deep snow, ice, blizzards, the estate agents only had one member of staff in so nobody could go down there with the key.

Then it was Christmas and everyone shut up shop for a fortnight. The agents reopen on Jan 4th. But in the interim, I went into panic mode. How do I supervise building work when I live 25 miles away, don't drive and am 3 miles from the nearest station? How can I do it whilst continuing to work on my editing jobs? Do I really want to take on something which may well turn out to be a money pit and cost me upwards of £30,000? Plus, I'd be paying the monthly service charge of £150 on top of council tax and the other bills.

I am having very severe second thoughts...


Perovskia said...

What do you mean, 'exchange contracts'?

hydra said...

When you buy a property in the UK, there are two stages. Exchange of contracts, where you sign a promise to buy and the vendor signs a promise to sell, and the buyer pays 10% of the purchase money, which is forfeited if they back out. Then, a few weeks later, there is Completion, where the rest of the money is handed over and the property becomes legally yours. Up to Exchange, you don't lose any money if you back out of the deal - except what you might have paid to a surveyor, or the solicitor.