Househunter: Diary: We resisted the urge to knock them down as they left
We were so close to going ‘sale agreed’ – then they offered more and bagged it.
To the many friends, family members and colleagues who’ve listened to me rant and moan about our latest bidding battle, there’s no need to read on; you’ve likely heard enough of this story by now. I’ve talked about little else in recent weeks, I know, and I’m sorry. But I will say it one more time before I put it finally to bed – I still can’t quite believe how unlucky we were.
Sale agreed: the elusive Holy Grail for house hunters. Last month, we got within a hair’s breadth.
Unlike other houses we’ve had to put effort in to love, we fell for this one as soon as the ad went up online. It ticked all our wish-list boxes: redbrick, three bedrooms, garden, and right in the middle of our ideal area. It was quite a bit beyond our budget but for this one we were willing to stretch ourselves, as we had thought our chances of even meeting two of those requirements were beyond us at this stage.
My partner was away for work for a few weeks and missed the two open viewings, but was willing to bid on it anyway. We had no doubts. After almost a year of viewings, this was the standout house we knew instantly we wanted to make our home.
We held out and went to see it together with my mother in tow. All three of us circled around the house, beaming. There was only one offer in, €55,000 below the asking price, with no more public viewings arranged. It felt within reach.
Over three weeks, we went back and forth with the estate agent, waiting patiently for the rival bidder to respond and quickly upping our offer each time in an effort to shake them off. They became slower and slower coming back with another bid. We knew we were close to breaking them.
Our offer was still below the asking price, and the very maximum we could afford. But the agent indicated the owners would be willing to accept it if the other bidder pulled out, given the house had been on the market for almost two months, with little new interest.
Over that final weekend, we were sure enough our last offer would do the trick that we dropped into a nearby salvage yard, just to see what internal doors they had in stock. How ridiculous that seems now.
On the Tuesday, the agent called. “They’ve pulled out,” he said. My heart jumped. “But . . .”
Another couple had called that morning asking to see the house. Because we hadn’t gone sale agreed, the agent was obliged to let them view it. He tried to reassure me this happens all the time. He said he would pressure them for an offer by close of business the day of the viewing if they were interested, as a sale had almost been agreed with us.
We struggled to stay positive. If this couple were really keen, surely they would have asked to see it before now?
But the previous day, an ad had gone online for a similar house across the road. It wasn’t “nana chic”, as my editor described ours when she saw the pics, but very tastefully done up by its “designer owners and their architect”. For €110,000 more than our offer. It had obviously given this other couple ideas.
I waited on tenterhooks for most of the following day, knowing they were walking around our house. “Good news,” I thought I heard the agent say when he finally called. I think I let out a little scream. “No, I said not good news.” Ah. Right.
They had offered €5,000 more than our final bid, and “written a novel” of an email about how much they loved it. I (snarkily) reminded him what I do for a living and that I could happily provide a counter novel, as if it would make a jot of difference.
We were devastated. Within two working days of viewing the house, the other bidders went sale agreed. It just didn’t seem fair, but no one did anything wrong. A few agents have mentioned a growing trend in buyers waiting until the last minute to make an offer, not wanting to go through the stress of a bidding war. I understand that now.
Just to torture ourselves further, we went to see the house across the road that weekend. It was gorgeous. There was another couple walking around we were convinced was them. We resisted a very strong urge to knock them over in our van as they left the viewing.
It has been an unusually quiet autumn with very few houses in our price bracket coming to market, as I wrote about in my last column, and we were very close to giving up hope altogether. But strangely, things seem to be picking up again now as Christmas approaches. We viewed seven houses across four postcodes last Saturday, none of them promising but it did something to restore our faith.
Finally, four weeks on, I’m no longer fixating on our misfortune, seeing the fact we got so close to our dream home as a positive thing. It is possible, it seems. Hopefully next time, the good luck will be on our side instead of theirs. We deserve it at this stage, surely?