TescoGate: How A Failed House Sale, 8 Hungarians, Lunch At Nando’s And Coffee At Tesco’s Got Me Full Asking Price
You knew it was too good to be true: accept an offer from a cash buyer and the sale completes one month later.
It didn’t happen…
So completion was set for the end of February. Hatched had seen proof of funds for the cash purchase and a survey was being arranged by the buyer.
Solicitors details were exchanged and it seemed like all the “formalities of sale” were going ahead. I replied to my solicitors inquiries with an endless ream of check boxes to tick, certificates and other paper paraphernalia to send to him “urgently”.
Hatched kept me informed of what the buyer was doing and what we were waiting for…which was the surveyor and all the concomitant bits of worthless paper he would e-v-e-n-t-u-a-l-l-y produce.
The surveyor took F**KING ages to visit. I have no idea why it took so long, and I constantly harassed Hatched with requests for people to act quicker, work harder and meet the deadlines set.
And in the midst of all this, the “cash buyer” did the classic stunt (once they had shown proof of sufficient cash funds to buy the house and get the offer accepted). They then turned round and claimed their mortgage advisor had informed them they “should buy the property with a mortgage to take advantage of the good BTL deals available at the moment”.
Needless to say, I hit the ROOF. What had happened to my cash buyer and promise of a quick completion?
Hatched gave me a healthy dose of “Verbal Valium” and calmed by their words I kept my mouth shut, agreed there might be a slight delay on the completion date and waited for the surveyor.
So the surveyor finally got to the property and at this point the house had been off the market for almost two weeks. I was not a happy bunny with what was happening, but I consoled myself with the prospect that if the buyer was getting a surveyor round, they were spending money and so were “committed” to the process.
Of course, what I didn’t bank on was the surveyor, quite frankly, visiting a DIFFERENT house and writing a survey about that house. There is no other explanation for the report which I then got sent a copy of.
Amongst a list of ridiculous allegations was:
– The property has damp and the public footpath will need digging up to rectify the situation. Firstly, the property has NO damp, nor any signs of damp and I have no understanding why a public footpath would have to be dug up to rectify a damp problem (which there isn’t) at my property.
– The kitchen cabinets require adjustment. I am not sure what sort of “adjustment” BRAND NEW kitchen cupboards require given they have recently been fitted by a qualified carpenter.
– The property requires rewiring. At this I went BALLISTIC and almost hurled my laptop out of the window. What eyes does this surveyor have in his head? Who’s house did he inspect? I have just re-wired the property to the latest 17th Edition at considerable expense. And I have also sent all the paperwork and building regulation compliance to the solicitor.
Of course, none of this mattered.
Because the fact was, the survey was about to be used as “leverage” (well, this is my version of events).
A lot of umming and arrhing then happened.
Hatched liaised with the buyer about the results of the survey (which I vehemently disagreed with) and desperately tried to placate me (and find a middle ground) by convincing me to send a damp expert to get an independent opinion of the “alleged damp” which involved, for it’s eradication, the rather odd claim of digging up the public footpath.
To say I was “unhappy” would be putting it mildly.
And then the next stunt: The buyer (one day after the anticipated completion date) then reduced their offer on the property to still buy it cash.
My reply: “They can go *swivel*. Put the property back on the market and stop wasting my time”
And I hung up.
I had started the week badly by losing my dream property at auction so it was rather fitting to end such a week by now losing the buyer of my property.
And then the phone started ringing again.
It was Hatched. Again.
I didn’t particularly want to speak to them. There was not much to say. I was not going to be convinced to go back with this buyer.
But actually, they were not calling me about the by-now-swivelling-buyer.
They had done as instructed and made the house available on the market. And I was bombarded with viewing requests. At this point, I hadn’t even had a chance to call the high street estate agents to put the house back on the market.
I informed Hatched I would do the viewings the next day (Saturday) between 1pm and 1.30pm as this fitted in well with the other half and I’s anticipated lunch at Nando’s (conveniently situated close by, but not too close to the house – and you know, I am such a cheap date!).
So the first viewers turn up – there are EIGHT of them. They are a Hungarian couple who are looking to buy their first house and have brought along both sets of parents and siblings to view what they anticipate to be the ‘house of their dreams’. It was. My house was their dream house. They were positively climaxing in my kitchen. I was in awe.
They offered to buy the house right there and then in the kitchen.
Delighted by their offer and pleased to hear they already had a mortgage agreed, I agreed their offer.
CUE: Knocking on the front door.
The next viewers have arrived.
The other half has to accompany them around the property as I am still trying to manage the excitement of the Hungarians in the kitchen.
The next viewers also love the house and they tell me to my face. They are also in a strong position having sold their house and currently renting while they find a house to buy – which they indicated to be mine.
I am about to show them the “rear south facing sun trap of a garden” when the Hungarians rush back into the property (who I had escorted off the property just some moments before).
The Hungarians are IN LOVE and they have returned to tell me how much they LOVE the property and how much they want to BUY it.
I explain I am happy for them to buy it and I am sure we can organise the deal.
But really, right now – we have an appointment with Nandos.
So we get to Nando’s.
It’s a Saturday lunchtime so it’s rammed full of texting teenagers and families with small crying children. And us.
My phone rings. I can see from the number it’s Hatched. I have a mouthful of chicken but I figure I better answer as they will want to know about the deal I have agreed with the Hungarians.
But it’s another offer! The other viewers also LOVE the house and want to buy it as well!
Hmm. “Olivia” I say “I have a face full of chicken right now which does not appear to be the best way to negotiate – can I call you in 5 minutes?”
“OK” She replies, “You eat your chicken and I’ll just call the buyers and inform them there’s competition and they need to offer more..”
“OK” I agree
Five minutes later she calls me again: “You have a full asking price offer from the second viewers. I don’t think the Hungarians understand they now have to offer more and the price you agreed with them is no longer enough”.
“Oh” I reply, imagining how crestfallen the Hungarians would be.
Then my phone rings again – the Hungarians are confused why the price they have agreed with us is no longer enough. Trying to explain the house buying and offer system of the UK is getting me nowhere.
So I arrange to meet the Hungarians in Tesco’s cafe. In my defence, it is around the corner from Nando’s (I know this story just keeps giving!).
Wiping the chicken juice from our faces we make our way to Tesco’s cafe. The Hungarians are sat there expectantly waiting for us. We explain to them as nicely as possible that while we would love for them to buy the house and bring up their family there, we have now been offered more money for the property and so they need to pay more if they want it.
That sounds like a pretty easy thing to do?
We are met with a table full of dismayed faces and tears pricking in eyes. Many eyes. Many tear pricks.
I cannot fall for this. I cannot do such raw human emotion. I am absolutely overwhelmed by their desire to live in my property, but this is business. I must remain strong, business-like and well, business-like.
So I get up and say: “You talk about it, and we’ll go and buy a coffee”. At which point I grab the other half and we make our way to the queue for coffee.
We are in the queue when the other half suddenly freezes and turns to me very slowly: “Don’t turn around now, but our other buyer who has offered full price is sat just behind the Hungarians”.
I stand and stare at him. Open mouthed, I just catch a glimpse of the other buyer sat two tables away from the Hungarians.
“What do we do??” we both whisper to each other at the same time, while ducking behind the cappucino machine.
We look at each other open mouthed. WTF?!
We deliberate on making a quick exit and soon realise that’s very “unbusiness-like” – plus we’re not going to be able to make it to the “escape escalator” without the Hungarians seeing us…
We both take a deep breath, put our heads down and return with our coffee to sit with the Hungarians who are still talking and making numerous phone calls.
My phone rings. It’s Hatched.
“Sam, are you in Tesco’s cafe with the Hungarians?”
“Yes” I yelp
“Your other buyer is also at Tesco’s cafe and has just called me to find out what is going on as you are at Tesco’s cafe with the Hungarians and she is sat two tables away from you”
“I know” I admit uncomfortably.
“How has this happened, what are you doing” Olivia demands.
“Well, I, er…I was just trying to explain about the offer system and how they need to pay more…” I trail off. I can tell Olivia thinks I have lost the plot.
“Right” she exclaims, sounding more in control “I will explain to your other buyer what you are doing with the other buyers at Tesco’s cafe. Although I have got to wonder what are you all doing at Tesco’s cafe?”.
“I don’t know…I have never come to the cafe before, it just happened to be close to Nando’s” I reply, not understanding why Tesco’s cafe had now become the centre of the universe for property deals.
*Super awkward* sums up the next few moments.
I don’t know whether I am to acknowledge the other buyer by giving a little wave, or if that may be misconstrued and they may think I am giving them the finger, or being off-hand. I just don’t know what to do. And so I do nothing. Nothing is the best plan of attack when you haven’t got a clue what to do.
So we continue talking with the Hungarians who are still making copious phone calls and looking increasingly anxious.
Then the father finishes what looks to have been an important phone call and faces us triumphantly.
“We will pay you asking price as well” he shouts, eager with excitement.
I speak with Hatched again, we agree that both offers will be considered and on Monday their in-house financial advisor will look at the strength of both offers to enable us to make the final decision with who to proceed.
So today is the day…
The other buyer has called Hatched wanting to know what is happening and why they didn’t get the VIP treatment of coffee at Tesco’s cafe.
And we ummed and we arrhhed.
And we knew either way we would disappoint someone.
But at the end of the day, we had to do what was best for us – we had to choose the buyers who we believed to be in the best position.
And that means we have upset the Hungarians. We have gone with the other buyer (who we didn’t woo at Tesco’s) but I guess they get a new house now – which has got to be better than a coffee from Tesco’s cafe!