Real life

Real life

19 January 2017

3:00 PM

19 January 2017

3:00 PM

If the buyer asks me any more questions I am going to pull out. I have to put my foot down somewhere or this is going to drag on indefinitely.

I went under offer some months ago now and it was thought I might be in my dream cottage for Christmas. Ha! The next prevailing theory was that I would be in by the end of January. That’s a laugh too.

After various legal nightmares to do with disputed rights of way, unmade shared- access tracks and windows in neighbouring properties facing the wrong way, the purchase of the country cottage is good to go.

The problem is the other end. The buyer of my London flat, while bombarding me with demands to hurry up or she will pull out, refuses to rein in her lawyers, who are daily deluging my lawyer with lists of impossible questions about arcane aspects of my property that he and I couldn’t answer if we took a year out and dedicated ourselves to the task.

The latest questions came in during the holiday period, so well done to whichever keen young legal eagle spent their break scrutinising the paperwork, needlessly finding fault with it. My solicitor suspects a work-experience flunky. He thinks the buyer’s solicitor, while snoozing in holiday mode, made the mistake of letting a trainee or eager young intern have a look at the files to see if the grown-ups had missed anything.

The result is an impertinent array of pointless queries which are either so obvious they are answered in the estate agents details, or which are so unutterably unanswerable that if all house sales depended on them the market would crash this week and no property would be traded again, prompting a total and utter meltdown of the financial markets. (Although this may still happen, of course, if Mr Trump doesn’t stop tweeting.)

‘What alterations have been made to the property?’ None. We told them this months ago. ‘What covenants and charges are contained in the lease?’ None. We told them this months ago. ‘Are there any rights of way?’ Yes. Round the back. We told her this when she first viewed the flat. ‘Have any party structure notices been served?’ Yes. Well over a month ago, we sent them a full copy of the party wall notice served on me by my neighbour a year ago when he did a loft conversion. Have they actually read it? Do they get post? Who knows? ‘Is there parking outside the property?’ Again, when this buyer first viewed my flat the agent told her chapter and verse about the permit parking. I know this because they rang and asked me at the time. This was then repeated in the official forms. Did they read the forms? Can they read? Who knows? ‘When were the drains last done?’ Really? You’re going to hold up your purchase of a mint London flat at an unbelievably reasonable price because you want to know if the drains are blocked? The drains aren’t blocked, by the way. They’re done twice a year. They have their own insurance policy. I’m neurotic, stupid. I’ve got a policy for everything. We told them that two months ago.

Next. ‘Do you have the boiler service paperwork?’ For the love of all that is holy! I’ve told them and told them that the boiler has a contract with British Gas and is checked once a year without fail but I don’t keep all the little slips they issue when they visit. The service history is held on file. The boiler works fine. But while we’re on the subject, is this the boiler you are going to rip off the wall to install a bifold door? Oh, it is, is it?

Three surveys I’ve submitted to: one Homebuyers’, one structural, which was variously explained as being for the bifold door and for the mortgage she had claimed she wouldn’t be needing, and one electrical, because her father didn’t believe my electrical safety certificates.

Their electrician came in, apologised profusely, looked under the stairs at the fuse box, ticked a box on a form, apologised again, and left.

‘Has the property ever been flooded?’ To which I say: has Balham ever been flooded? Seriously, do these people even switch their brains on in the morning? Are they suffering from false memory syndrome in which they picture rising tides surging past the pound shop on Balham High Road, lefties in canoes trying to rescue foxes as they are swept out to sea?

And lastly, my favourite: Has any noxious substance been buried in the garden? This is a new one, so I want to answer it with a full inventory: ‘Dog do (unquantified); pet cats (two); rabbits (three); canisters of weapons grade plutonium (15).’

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