On June 20, we see a house that is perfect. We both love it. I am very depressed as I feel we will be outbid and doomed. By June 29 there are no other offers. The estate agent says our offer is too meagre, however, the family of the deceased is considering it. Yet again, I am filled with unwise hope.
On July 3 there is another bidder. We bid in increments up to our limit. We are outbid. On July 10 we said goodbye. I nearly cried. “Right,” I said to Mr. Waffle, “I am ringing the birthday house people and putting in an offer.” “Give it a week,” he says. On July 11, the estate agent for the perfect house is back on. The other bidder had some objection. I hand over to Mr. Waffle as I can no longer stand the trauma of the negotiations. I begin listing to myself the disadvantages of the perfect house so that I am not too depressed should it all fall through: planning permission extant for flats behind the laneway; no central heating; no side passage; east as opposed to west or south facing back garden. I am clutching at straws here.
On July 12 we are sale agreed! Mr. Waffle is a tower of strength. We agree not to tell the children as there might yet be a slip twixt cup and lip. I feel great excitement and also a vague sense of anti-climax. I feel that my greatest ambition of the past 18 months is achieved. Really? This is it, this is all that I wanted in life, a larger house? Oh for heaven’s sake. I am all shallows and no depth.
On July 23 we are on holidays. Michael is desperate to get home to Dublin. He lies in bed weeping at the prospect of waiting until the following day. Herself comments darkly, “This is just a taster of what you can expect, if we ever move house.” The guilt.
Our holidays in France in August are mildly blighted by an estate agent shaped cloud as he keeps ringing to know where we are at in getting the survey and so on. On our return to Dublin, we sign contracts subject to finance. Given our great age, our life insurance involves a physical exam from a nurse. Apparently we are fine. We pay our deposit.
We are on holidays in Kerry in August, the surveyor rings us to say that he has given his survey to the bank. Since the bank wanted it before releasing funds we are happy. He then says casually that he has valued the house at considerably less than our offer. The bank refuses to release more than 90% of the valuer’s estimate. We are in despair and have no idea how to make up the shortfall. We are also furious with the idiot valuer. House prices in Ireland are a bit “make up your own figure”. We know that a house up the road sold at the height of the boom for twice what we are proposing to pay. We offer a number of potential solutions to the bank all of which they reject but in the waiting time, I filled with hope. The vendors’ estate agent is incandescent with rage. The only good thing is that we put him in touch with the surveyor and they had a free and frank exchange of views. Someone comments, accurately but unhelpfully, that if we were to get the house we would be in negative equity before we started.
The estate agent suggests that we go to a mortgage broker. We are not optimistic. When the bank with whom we have banked all our lives refuses to give us credit [thank you Bank of Ireland] we think it unlikely, what with one thing and another, that any other bank is likely to give us credit. The mortgage broker is more optimistic. We do after all have another survey [also from a surveyor on the bank’s approved list valuing the house at what we want to pay for it – in fact, he tells Mr. Waffle that it’s a great buy- kind, good surveyor]. In early October we sign forms with Ulster Bank. The Bank manager is full of bonhomie. On no, wretched optimism again. A fortnight later there is still no news. We drive past the perfect house. I sigh. “Schrödinger’s house” says Mr. Waffle.
On October 16, the vendors put the perfect house back on the market. On October 18 we sign more forms for Ulster Bank. They want a statement of our mortgage payments from Bank of Ireland. This is not available online. It is impossible to get through by phone. I resort to ringing customer complaints. I go through two menus and finally reach a human being. They can only send me a hard copy of the mortgage statement. As this is lunch time on Friday, it will be printed this evening and posted the following Monday. No chance of an electronic copy? No. Can I call in, perhaps? No it is not sent from here. Slightly sarcastically, I asked, from where then, a secret location? Yes, that’s correct. By the following Wednesday there is still no sign of the statement. I ring the bank. Allow 3-5 working days, they say.
On October 31 in the early evening we get news that Ulster Bank have approved our loan. Who would have thought? On November 9, to our amazement, confirmation of the loan offer arrives by fax. Ulster, atypically, says yes. Shortly rivers will begin to run uphill.
Concluding scenes in this stirring drama will follow shortly.