Thursday, 19 February 2015

Still Searching ...

... for a place to buy, and trying very hard to see past the compromises to the positives and potential and not to feel despondent. It's not that there aren't some lovely properties on the market, but all the ones which make me say 'wow!' are well out of my price range. I'd settle for something which makes me say 'ooh!', but most of the time, the non-verbal accompaniment to a quick flick through the pics is more along the lines of 'Mm, hmm, okay, ah, oh dear, tut, no, ugh, aaargh!', (spot the reactions to large-patterned wallpaper, strangely-coloured bathroom suites, dark purple walls and black tiles in bathrooms and kitchens) with the occasional 'OMG, WTH?' and 'Come on, you have got to be kidding!'

There was an 'ooh' property which came up before I had the money to do anything about it, and was under offer almost as soon as it appeared. It still involved compromises, but I could see myself moving straight in. It was still shown as 'under offer' in the new year, so I sent a message to the estate agents to say that, were the offer or sale to fall through, please would they let me know immediately as I would be very interested. In the past week though, it has been removed from their website. I know the probability of the sale falling through is roughly the same as winning the lottery jackpot - it might happen, but it probably won't. Now, I find I subconsciously compare everything to that property, which makes things very difficult, because nothing else so far has been as good.

As for the rest, there are a few which have capability, but there's always some issue which feels like a compromise too far, such as fronting directly onto a main road, no garden, no parking, has been structurally vandalised (like, removing the chimney and chimney breasts), has a bus stop and/or street light right outside, requires major updating, damp, excessively slow broadband and no mobile signal. Of course, you have to look past cosmetic issues but the price has to be right; removing ghastly wallpaper and giving the walls a couple of coats of paint is not in the same league as replacing expensive, ineffective or no central heating, needing double glazing, new kitchen, new bathroom, new floor coverings, rewiring, getting the walls skimmed, removing terrible artexed ceilings, and so on.

From browsing the available properties for months now, it seems that being semi-detached or end-terrace easily adds up to £10,000 to the price, and for a detached property, add another £10,000 or more. My ideal property is detached, but in some cases it is definitely not worth the money. Many are built on small infill plots, with basically an air gap between one house and the next. I've come across a couple of instances where the gap is too small for anyone but the most slender to squeeze through, and I cannot think how the wall was built (from the inside?) or how any maintenance would be carried out on the side wall of the older house next door. At the back, the 'easily maintained courtyard garden' is just about big enough for a couple of chairs, a rotary washing line and a bin, but is shaded by walls and overlooked by other properties. This is also true of new terraced properties. Most Victorian terraces have bigger back yards, probably because they needed space for the outdoor privy, the mangle and to hang the washing out. As a friend pointed out, most people now have tumble dryers and these places are 'what people want'. I've heard that so often, but if it were really true, would there be such a flourishing number of house and garden magazines and property programmes on TV? No, the programmes and magazines are full of what people want. Most of the time, they settle for what's available, what they can afford and will hopefully match their needs.

Speaking of needs, I really need more income and therefore more work. After months of seeing no appropriate jobs, I've just applied for half a dozen. Tempting though it is to live somewhere on the coast, chances are that there will be a commute to work which could be as much as an 80 mile round-trip a day. I worked out, using the 45p a mile tax allowance, that this could effectively cost approximately £8,500 a year in fuel and wear on a vehicle (not to mention the two hours or so spent driving every day). The administrative jobs I'm looking at aren't highly paid, and this sum would represent at least 50% of income. Even a daily 40 mile round trip would represent 25% of income, which is still excessive. Something to think about, which creates a bit of a quandary. Do I wait for the spring flush of properties to come on the market and see whether I actually get one of these jobs, or do I just look at whatever's available and fairly central? What would you do?

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