Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not out to get you

I've been trying to sell my house for the last six months. I knew when we put it on the market it would be a difficult and protracted affair. We live in the middle of nowhere by choice, but not everyone likes to be so isolated. And the housing market in the UK isn't exactly effervescing at the moment. More a pool of rancid dog-sick, if you're looking for a simile. But even I hadn't anticipated the level of house-buying apathy out there; in those last six months we've had just three people come to have a look around.

That's not what I want to moan about though. I read the papers and watch the news; I know we're in a bad place financially as a country right now. The public sector is overwhelmingly the largest employer in this region, too, so talk of cuts makes people understandably nervous. Such things conspire to make it all too believable when people tell me the average length of time it takes to sell a house in Ceredigion is two years. I'm OK with that. It's not brilliant, but we're not desperate to get the place shifted at all costs. We can afford to wait out the lull.

No, what irritates me intensely, and plays to my inner conspiracy-theorist is the situation I've been through in the last week. It was Tuesday when I answered a phone call from the estate agents,* telling me that someone wanted to come and see the place. That was the first time I'd heard from them in well over a month, and to be honest my attempts at keeping the house clean have somewhat lapsed - well, there's only so much hoovering and floor washing you can do for no audience but muddy-footed dogs. So it was that I spent Wednesday morning  deep cleaning from top to bottom. And then, in the afternoon, the lady in question arrived.

She was obviously excited about the place, so much so that she made me swear I wouldn't sell the place to anyone else before she'd had time to bring her husband round to see the place too. This she did, on Friday evening, bringing him straight from the station where he'd just returned from a trip to London. No time to go home and freshen up, or have a stiff drink to alleviate the stress of both rail travel and time spent in the capital, no, he had to come straight here and see the place.

And he liked it too. Perhaps in a 'yes dear, whatever you say,' manner, but enough to arrange to come back on Sunday to talk about offers.

This couple were the perfect buyers, as far as I was concerned. They had already sold their smallholding just a few miles away, and were looking for somewhere with a bit less land where they could grow old happily. They had the cash waiting, and weren't stuck in some endless chain of the type that so bogs down the English and Welsh property market.** What's more, they were being pressured by the people who had bought their property to move as soon as possible. 

As it happens, and purely by coincidence, the house we used to rent, a mile up the road from here, is currently empty. It's part of the research farm I still technically work for, and we would have been able to move in there at very short notice. Had this nice couple made us a reasonable offer, the sale could have been concluded in a month - an almost unheard of speed for conveyancing in the UK. The only thing slowing down the transaction would have been the lawyers who are a tiresome necessity in such things.

But, and there's always a but, on Sunday morning, as we were out strolling the beasts,*** a message was left on our telephone answering machine. The nice couple had seen another house, a bit further away, and were equally excited about that one. They needed some time to consider options, but would let me know as soon as possible.

Today, I received a call from the estate agents, telling me that the couple had decided to make an offer on the other house. Apparently they had reservations about the bungalow next door - reading the subtext, the current inhabitants of the bungalow next door - and that our house was perhaps just a bit too far out from town for them as they approach their twilight years. Given the property they've made an offer on, this last excuse rings a little hollow, but I'm not bitter or angry at them. They found a house they liked more than mine. Fair enough.

But I can't help thinking that my luck really stinks. It's not that I didn't get the sale, so much as they were in so many ways the perfect buyers - and then I didn't get the sale. Absolutely everything was right for a swift, simple and stress-free transaction, and then it all just crumbled to dust in front of my eyes. The pattern recognition part of my brain sees parallels with my situation in the middle of 2008, when I came tantalisingly close to getting a deal with a major publishing house, finding a new agent and generally succeeding where I'd failed for the previous ten years. And then, of course, it all fell to pieces.

I don't mind rejection. Well, yes, I do mind rejection but I understand it's part and parcel of life in general and being a writer in particular. What I really object to though is the exquisite pain of getting to within a whisker of your goal, only to find yourself on the long snake back to the beginning. Once is bad enough, but over and over again? Come on life, give me a break won't you.

* Realtors, for you lot over there.
** But not in Scotland, where they're much more sensible about these things.
*** This is not a euphemism. Shame on you for thinking so.


well. now what to say?

This is what I do with these kinds of situations (and I don't mind if you delete this comment): I say, Ha! That wouldn't have worked so well anyway. There is a better person for the place, and they are on their way here, now.

Seriously. Life cannot be against you. That just doesn't make sense, since it(Life) is indifferent, neutral, just goes on and on.

And I have (as you have) experienced some of the offerings as traumatic and intensely negative. For this I have few words of wisdom, since my own natural inclination seems to be to rant, rave and sob. Then, I pick up and go on and on.

Good post.

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