Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Imperfections of a Perfect House

Country Change part 3

After a few weeks and a lot of money spent on legal fees, we backed out of the purchase of the perfect house. Several unrelated concerns all came together to make the process of buying the place too stressful.
I’m not sure where it started, but living so far away without the chance of checking the place again didn’t help. Imagination helped to inflate a few minor concerns into potentially major problems. The legalities were taking longer than expected. Building inspections revealed a few minor problems – which as per above became imagined major problems; and the few cosmetic inadequacies started to be perceived as daunting renovation projects.

We planned to rent the place out for a couple of years until we were ready to move. It already had tenants and their lease still had a few months to run. But we hadn’t done our homework on things like landlord’s insurance and when the real estate agent started sending us brochures and forms, trying to sell us their recommended product, my ignorance of the matter started to scare me. At the same time I had been reading some real estate statistics and found that the median house price in the town was 2/3 of the amount we had agreed to pay – had we agreed to an inflated purchase price?

Then the house’s few deficiencies started to become an issue. It had no garage and the car port roof was bent. The doors on the built in wardrobes and linen cupboards weren’t fitted correctly. There was a water leak in the laundry. The access to the front door from the path didn’t have a proper step. The evaporative air-conditioning unit on the roof seemed to be too close to the chimney of the log fire. All of these were concerns that could have been easily cleared up if we had been able to see the place again.

In the end the worries took over, we dropped our plans to buy and my peace of mind was restored.

Did we do the right thing? It’s hard to say. At times it seems like we made a big mistake. The house itself was exactly what we wanted, but the block of land was probably too small. It also had the wrong aspect, facing to the west with the back garden on the east side of the house. It was a sloping block on the low side of the road, and because of the slope, the back garden would be in the shade of the house for most of the afternoon and would get full sun only in the morning. The backyard was also the smaller part of the garden with the house being built closer to the back of the block than the front. This didn’t really suit the hopes I had for the garden I was planning
We now drive past the house quite frequently and it it is easy to wonder what could have been – but in doing so we are aware that the house is further from the town than the house we eventually bought, and since Gloria doesn’t drive that could have been a problem.

For quite a while I felt a little guilty for letting the vendor down, but several months later I found out that after the failed sale, the price of the house was increased by $30,000 and sold immediately. And that was an indication of the next problem we faced – the start of a booming market.

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