You’d be mistaken (if not understandably) in thinking that I’m referring to a man here, however I consider myself lucky enough to have married the love of my life! I’m actually talking about a house. If anyone reading this has ever fallen in love with a property, and then “just missed out”, you will no doubt identify with the feelings expressed in this post. I know many people who have shared a similar experience, and the shocking feeling of sadness and longing that goes with it. One friend in particular lost out to the same property 3 times! And has admitted that although she is happy in her home now, if she were ever to see a “For Sale” board outside that particular house it would plunge her again in to turmoil, even 10 years on! Of course in my line of work (a firm of solicitors), it is not unusual to encounter a devastated couple whose dreams of a beautiful house have just been shattered as the chain has broken, I remember one lady in particular who sobbed the whole way through her interview. I felt terrible for her.
(image from Google)
I often think of this house, more so at the moment though, as this week we placed our own property on the market – yet again. I will be go in to the reasons why, and a little about the houses that we viewed last weekend in a seperate post, as this is kind of a more serious post, which i'm writing more for "me", I will be therefore very surprised if anyone actually reads this to the end! Thank you though, if you do! :)
“The One” for us, came around not just once – but TWICE – which has made it all the more raw in my mind, and something which I still think about. The funny thing is, the house itself, or rather a 1970’s bungalow, is nothing special at all, - it’s sometimes, however, all about location, and this one was perfect. Situated on the very outskirts of our small Victorian town, on a quiet, well spaced-out estate of bungalows, detached with a private drive, - and here’s the best bit – with the most lovely view, overlooking a nature reserve, with small lake which even had a pair of swans! We first went to see it on a dreary February morning in 2009, it was a probate property so the elderly lady who had lived there since it was first built had sadly recently passed away, and the house still had all of her belongings in it. There was perhaps something about this, making it feel so cosy and homely, (very retro!) though the sight of her slippers still tucked under the bed made my eyes water (those things get me every time!), but it was when we walked out in to the garden, a lawn sloping down to a little fence and then nothing but nature reserve as far as the eye could see, and two swans swimming on the small man-made lake only a few hundred yards away – even on that dreary morning, it felt like home. I had never experienced this feeling before, and sadly haven’t since. I could well and truly have moved in there and then the feeling was totally overwhelming.
(image from Google)
For days afterwards I thought of nothing else, this was very bad, I know, but I even dreamed of that lake with the swans, and imagined vividly our lives spanned out over the next 10 years, children playing on that lawn, having breakfast on the patio in the early morning, looking out over that nature reserve – the whole lifestyle had completely captivated me. My husband, as always, is much more grounded that me, but even he got excited at the thought of what we might do to the property, an idea spurned by my father, who was also slightly obsessed with the place, was that we should have a dormer-extension up in to the roof, giving us spectacular views over the nature reserve from the upstairs bedrooms. While this was happening our house at the time (not where we are living now), was getting quite a lot of interest – the following Saturday it had 4 viewings in one day, and one couple were “very interested” as the estate agent put it. We’d already expressed our interest in the bungalow, and prompted by the estate agent, went for a second viewing, this time with a local builder, in order to give us a quote for the extension, which, if we were successful in buying the place, we planned to get done right away. We’d also made enquiries as to planning, and although nothing was set in stone, two of the neighbours, one just two doors away had done exactly the same thing and had already set the precedent, so it was very unlikely to have been refused.
We ended up spending a very long second viewing with my father in tow (he couldn’t keep away either!), and the builder, who gave us a very reasonable quote, and my goodness, we really had then well and truly fallen for the place. We made a provisional offer based on the sale of our house, and then waited, hoping beyond hope that our house would sell soon. Unfortunately, to cut a long story short, the people who had been “very interested” in our house, faded in to oblivion, and my dear dad, (I actually still well up sometimes to think of this) even offered to lend us the money as a kind of bridging loan, in order to secure the property until our house sold. This was unbelievably kind, though we knew in our hearts that it would have been putting my parents in an extremely difficult financial situation should our house not sell for a long time – and after much deliberation, we decided that we just couldn’t put them in that position.
Sadly, just a month before we finally got an offer on our property, the bungalow sold for the same money that we’d originally offered. I was absolutely devastated, I am not ashamed to say that boy did I cry! I know this is an age-old story, has happened to so many people, though everybody that has experienced it have said that they can well and truly identify with the feeling of loss.
Of course we moved eventually, we waited until we had an offer on our then property, viewed the house we live in now the following day, made an offer on the Monday and were in a month later. After the months of turmoil with the previous house, this was very straightforward.
The bungalow, however, never completely faded from my mind, and just two years later, at the beginning of last year it came back on to the market yet again. We thought about it, and although we had been toying with the idea of putting our house up for sale, though hadn’t decided anything for sure, I have to admit that certainly on my part, this was definitely the catalyst. We had just put in a new kitchen and rushed to get our house on the market, not even waiting for the new kitchen floor to be laid before having the photographs taken! We made an appointment to see the bungalow again, which was arranged for 2 weeks time due to the vendor being away. The estate agent had even arranged for another builder to come along too, to give us an up-to-date quote for the extension in order for us to take that in to consideration. While we were waiting to see it, another couple, who had viewed it some weeks before put in an offer – though it was considerably low. The vendor wasn’t happy with this, and still wanted us to view, knowing of the history with us and the house, and the estate agent told us not to worry as that particular couple had a habit of putting in low offers on a lot of properties just “testing the water”, and didn’t seem to think they were serious. However, just 3 days before we were due to see it again the said couple upped their offer, and this time the vendor had decided to “consider” it.
The husband and I spent a very agonising evening discussing everything and mulled over every possibility we could think of in order to secure the property – even as far out as looking in to the possibility of renting out our current house, though financially we weren’t sure we’d be able to do this, though we were that desperate - I seriously would have done anything at this point - as long as it was legal!! Unfortunately this time as the property had been done up and modernised since the elderly lady had lived there, complete with new boiler and electrics, it was now on the market for considerably more than the last time, and my father, although again caught up in the whole affair, understandably couldn’t help us out this time, and besides, we still had to sell our own house.
All that we could do, is express our sincere interest and state exactly what we would be prepared to pay – the full asking price – should our house sell and if the vendor was prepared to wait.
He thought about it, but in the meantime cancelled our viewing on that coming Saturday, I was gutted, but perhaps it was for the best….as the following week he accepted the other couple’s lower offer, and that was that, it was gone. I have to admit that even now, I cannot bring myself to throw out the “details of sale”, with that wonderful photograph of The View! I keep it as a reminder – partly to never get so involved in a house until its well and truly ours! I will often sometimes come across the details unexpectedly when tidying up and after all this time, I feel a sharp stab of sadness - though it was obviously not meant to be – perhaps it just served as a lesson in life.
I’m sorry for such a long, probably boring post, I hope you don’t mind I’m writing this more for my own benefit, as I feel it’s important to remember – and learn – from this experience, especially now that we are again selling our house and on the look out for the next one. Part of me is very cautious, although we have found a possible 2 out of the 5 that we saw on Saturday, there is one which I like very much indeed, and could perhaps get completely carried away – but then I stop and think of “the one that got away” and it does ground me.
Perhaps we will be luckier on this occasion….only time will tell.