Great news! We have managed to find a house in Glasgow. I’m so excited! And I’m SO grateful. I haven’t lived on the ground floor since I came to Scotland nearly 21 years ago now, and I haven’t had my very own garden in that time either. Our house-to-be is a terraced house (so shares a wall with its neighbours either side), built about 1910. In terms of square metres and rooms inside it’s a bit smaller than our double-upper flat, but it has a front and back garden and is in a very friendly neighbourhood. It is described by the estate agent as a “villa” and my sister says it is what Americans would call a “townhouse”. Sort of like this, only you have to imagine another house adjoining the one on the right, all the way down the street.
There are shops and parks nearby, and good bus and rail connections to the city centre. Michael will be able to cycle to work. Who knows, maybe I’ll get back on my bicycle some day as well?
If anyone’s interested about how one goes about buying a house in Scotland, the process is more or less like this:
1. Sign up to about six different agencies who sell houses. Some of them are sollicitors and some of them are estate agents. (In Aberdeen, they’re all sollicitors.)
2. Watch your emails and the internet like a hawk.
3. The moment a new property comes up on the market, book a viewing.
4. If, as happened to us, the house is bought from under your nose before you can even see it, next time have your sollicitor note an interest before you’ve even seen a property so that they can’t sell without telling you and giving you a shot at it.
5. Read the surveyor’s home report and try to understand the difference between woodworm, dry rot, wet rot and damp. Similarly, try to work out which repairs are deemed critical, and which are only recommended, and why. After reading a dozen or so of these reports, conclude that the valuations of properties are hugely subjective and vary enormously.
6. Go to view the property. If only one of you can view the property, have a very clear idea of what your priorities are, which unchangeable things you require, and how much you are willing to compromise on the rest. Arrange a number of skype and phone calls to discuss the relative merits and demerits of the property. Try to reach a frame of mind where you realise that having a utility room, open fire, guest room that fits a double bed, and other such luxuries are actually not the very most important thing. Discuss the indefinables such as how the house feels at some length.
7. Do as much research as you can about the school catchment area. It helps if you’re willing to leave schooling up to divine intervention.
6. If after steps 3 to 7 you want to try to buy the property, look at your budget and pick a number over the “offers-over” price, which you think might beat the other bidders’ own bids. The number should end with -999 or -499, or you might opt for some startling figure that ends in -714 for example. Discuss this number with your sollicitor and agree that No One Has A Crystal Ball.
7. Pay for your sollicitor to prepare your bid. Wait anxiously for the day and time of the bidding. It may happen (as it did to us) that once all the bids have been opened, the seller decides they don’t want to sell after all.
8. Begin again at step 2.
Once you’ve managed to agree a sale, you can relax a little bit, but you must remember that nothing is set in stone until your Missives Have Been Concluded. This is a mysterious process best left to sollicitors. It may involve more investigation of wet rot, possibly at your expense, or paperwork relating to Certificates of Completion and the like.
You will also need to attend to the matter of transferring (“porting”) your existing mortgage to your new property, and this may require you to do handstands down at the bank. However, I won’t go into that now. Or ever, at least not on this blog.
It’s wonderful to have a place to move into – they have agreed to a moving-in date of 1st of August, just what we needed. Now we have a real focus for the start of our new life. We can start transferring the Dafter’s medical care and education team. I am so thankful! Thank you for your good thoughts and prayers, we really appreciate them.