…it’s where I’m at right now.
We had a plan for 2017, but life doesn’t always bend to our will the way we’d hoped.
We renovated our run down Victorian home in London during 2015 and 2016. At the beginning of 2017 the final touches were put on the house, we moved our possessions and our life to Frankfurt, Germany and put the house on the market.
However…we hadn’t seen Brexit coming or the effect it would have on the housing market in London…bummer!
When we bought our house at the beginning of 2014, houses were selling like hotcakes. We were being told to not even bother coming and viewing homes that had been listed mere days earlier as the seller had so many offers come in that there was a bidding war on (and an extra bidder wasn’t welcome). When we viewed our house we were given a time slot as the agent had back-to-back bookings for that entire Saturday. We put in two offers that weekend and were relieved when one was accepted.
Fast forward to early 2017 and unbeknownst to us, people were beginning to feel more and more unsettled by how Brexit was going to go down. Less people were keen on making any big changes in their financial positions and that meant less people viewing and putting offers in on a house we had spent 3 years living in and working on to resell.
We did have a good amount of viewings on our home during 2017 and quite a few offers we were happy to accept. We had some bad luck with a few of the offers we’d accepted. One of the offers was long and drawn out and created a ridiculous amount of stress, others were just part and parcel of selling houses in the UK. When you’re the top of the chain and your buyer’s buyer’s buyer falls through there’s not much you can do but wait it out. Add to that the possibility of your buyer whilst waiting for the chain below them to sort itself out going and finding another house they’d like to buy more than yours (that you’ve taken off the market because you trust that your buyer will follow through once their house is sold)…ugh! It was a hugely stressful process.
For anyone outside of the UK, Gazumping and Gazundering are legitimate concerns in the UK when selling or buying homes. Morally we wouldn’t be comfortable with doing either but we were Gazundered by our second buyer.
Our ‘cash buyer’ gazundered us and we naively didn’t even see it coming. To begin with he appears to have been a victim himself to a scammy building surveyor and refused to get a second building survey or consider the building survey (and damp survey) we had done ourselves and provided him with. We spent weeks trying to explain away these fictional defects with our home, it was emotionally draining to say the least. More than anything being accused of lying about things that just didn’t exist was hard. Even easily put to rest issues like accusing us of lying about the windows being double glazed (because his building survey said they were single-glazed). The man refused to go and look at the windows for himself and when faced with that kind of nonsense after months and months of trying to sell your house? Ugh! It was rough. When he had strung us along for 6 weeks (of our house being off the market mind you!) asking us to justify these ‘defects’ that didn’t exist, he finally asked for the huge discount that at this point we knew he was inevitably going to whammy us with. It was with a huge sigh of relief we were able to give him a firm ‘NO’ and be done with him once and for all.
The couple we eventually sold to in February were also in a chain so we couldn’t relax until it finally all went through in February 2018. It was a huge roller coaster selling the house we had poured so much time, money and energy (emotional and physical!).
I know logically that the events of 2017 are on the surface not particularly stressful or monumental. In fact, in many ways 2017 was the coming together and completion of life changes we had been planning for in 2015 and 2016.
In 2015 we began renovating our old run down Victorian home in London. We as a family tore off all the wallpaper covering the walls of two floors of our 2 story home. We spent many weekends steaming, scraping, pulling of large pieces and cursing and chipping away the bits and pieces that had stubbornly been holding on for 50+ years. Our over 115 year old home had seen numerous owners and tenants and the walls had many layers of paint and wallpaper. As an added bonus there were places where someone had knocked a hole in the wall, plastered right over top the wallpaper and then later a new layer of wallpaper had been put over the top of that.
There were times when ‘exploring’ what was beneath the carpets and wallpaper were a lot of fun. There were many times when I just wanted to tear my hair out and throw a little tantrum over in the corner, but all in all it created some really great memories and I’m so glad we did it together. After tearing off all the wallpaper we hired plasterers to repair and smooth the walls. I painted many rooms and hubby began laying engineered wood flooring room by room.
In 2016 the real work began when we hired builders to gut downstairs and build an extension out the back.
Our plan for 2017 was to move to Germany, sell the house and then move home to Australia in November. Since the house didn’t sell until February 2018 that didn’t work out for us.
The stress of selling the house meant that we never really settled into Germany. Our minds were constantly back in London and physically I was quite literally back in London many times checking on the house.
Hubby had to renew his contract with work for another year so we’re now in Germany until late 2018.
I desperately want to like it here…but it’s been hard. 2017 was filled with so much change and so much stress that all I associate Germany with is trauma.
I feel like I’m in limbo waiting for the next stage in our lives to begin. I want to get out of this ‘waiting room’ that is Germany and get back to Australia already.
At the same time I’m terrified of ‘moving back’. A decade is a long time to be gone from home. I’ve changed, home’s changed….where does that leave me?