When you want to buy a house in Scotland it’s easy. You have a look around the place and if you like the price, you make an offer through the estate agent. If the seller is happy with the offer and agrees to sell you it then that’s it. It’s legally binding. You have to buy the house and the seller has to sell it to you. You then go and get a mortgage, then agree on a move-in date, wait until then and move in. Simple, quick and effective. And that’s how house buying should be.
But I live in England. Things are different down here. It starts out the same way as in Scotland. You have a look around the house, make an offer and the seller accepts (assuming they’re happy with your offer). Now, that agreement is not legally binding so you can back out at any time and they can decide at a later point to do any of the following:
- Decide to not sell the house any more.
- Decide to add 10,000 on to the price.
- Decide to sell to somebody else instead, who may or may not have offered more money.
- Paint the house pink.
Okay, that last point is fairly unlikely. But the main point is that nothing is certain at this point in the process. So you go and get yourself a mortgage offer and get the deposit together. All set? Well, not quite. The seller may be in a chain. This means that they’re buying a house from someone else who may need to sell their house before moving out and so on. At any point, anybody in the chain can drop out and the whole thing breaks down. Contrast this with Scotland where you’ve already agreed the sale and there’s no backing out.
So, before you can actually buy the house, the seller has to have sold their house, and the person they’re buying from has to have already sold theirs, and so on. And all this can take quite some time. And, I stress, can break down at any time.
Luckily for me there is no chain involved and I should (fingers crossed) get into my new house in the next 3 weeks or so. But seeing how this system works compared to my native country’s makes me wonder why the hell it has to be this way. There’s uncertainty all the way and nobody trusts anybody else. It’s just plain stupid, and it’s not as if there’s no alternative. It’s also fantastically slow. Even though I’m not in a chain, it takes a damned long time to get anywhere in the process. You can nag everybody involved as much as you like but it seems to have little or no effect. Why aren’t they using modern technology to manage the whole process? I mean, come on, we live in the 21st century!
Okay, I feel a bit better now having got that off my chest. But I’ll say this much. Should it fall through at this stage for any reason, then I’ll be getting decidedly Braveheart on their asses…