Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The lazy and coincidental way to sell

On Friday I made a momentous and entirely unexpected decision: I agreed to sell the house I anticipated leaving only in one of those zip-up plastic bags that have now displaced the traditional wooden box.

Now, you might think that “entirely unexpected” is a pretty strange description, given that my house has been on the market since January. But the fact is that I never actually imagined it would sell. Placing it with an estate agent fell into much the same category as buying a National Lottery ticket, which I do faithfully twice a week, without ever really believing that I am about to scoop the jackpot.

There is, I should emphasise, nothing wrong with the place. It is a solidly built, listed, stone house offering stupendous views of Simonside, the Cheviots and Whittingham Vale. But its appeal seemed likely to be limited both by its remoteness and the fact that I had configured it to meet the specific needs of an eccentric and crusty bachelor who worked at home half the time and spent the other half elsewhere.

The head-shaking reactions of the few viewers of the property seemed to confirm my suspicions. So earlier this month I signed the lease on a rented house in Cheshire, so that my wife and I could fulfil our work commitments there for the next couple of years. I intended to take my place off the market and retain it for weekends and holidays, with a view to moving back to it as our main home in due course. Characteristically, I then made the schoolboy error of being too lazy to tell the estate agent of our decision, so that his “For Sale” sign was still in place to catch the eye of a chance passer-by.

This had very much the random character of a lottery win. Sadly for me the sum involved is rather smaller, and indeed somewhat less than I had hoped it would be. The potential buyer makes his living from property, albeit hotels rather than houses, and so pitched his offer with appropriate professional rigour. In fact, I would have rejected it immediately but for the fact that I liked the man from the moment I met him, and was much struck by the fact that, passing by on a day when I was not at home, he took the trouble to make friends with my next door neighbours of 21 years.

It was an added bonus when I mentioned to an Essex-based friend that I was thinking of selling my house to a baronet from his neck of the woods, and he remarked on the coincidence that his best friend held just such a title. Luckily I am familiar with Anthony Powell’s novel sequence, A Dance to the Music of Time, so was appropriately unamazed when my bloke and his turned out to be one and the same. It instantly moved negotiations onto a new plane of matiness that did little to improve the offer, but made me more inclined to accept it.

I am naturally conscious of the many slips that can occur once lawyers start poring over a contract. But, fortunately, I am now in the happy position of not greatly caring how it all pans out. If the sale proceeds, my house will pass into the hands of a friend of a friend who clearly loves the place for precisely the same reasons that I do: the location and the views. While if it falls through, I shall be able to bring up the next Hann generation in a beautiful spot where his ancestors worked the land a couple of centuries ago.

If we do move away from the North East for a while, I can say one thing with total confidence. We will be back.


Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1 comment:

CC said...

So glad you haven't entirely given up the blog.

Also, that serendipity made moving on more