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House Hunters International, "Contracts & Concessions" (Part 2)

Tomorrow is a big day in our housing venture as we enter into the "Contract Phase." This means that starting tomorrow we will review a 30 page contract with a fine tooth comb, and hopefully, in a short time, agree to all terms. We will seal our contract with a kiss, a signature and a five figure lump sum. Just to refresh your memory, we are not buying this house, merely renting this house for the next three years. I cannot even imagine what it takes to buy a house here, the thought may keep me up tonight.

Our amazing real estate agent, Maria, who I liked instantly, has been very kind in answering all of our crazy American questioning. I want it to also be noted, she is the only real estate agent that warned us, before walking into the Guinea Pig Palace, of its less than ideal state. Every agent we used before her would just brush over glaring property red flags. Like one that told me Nola, our malti-poo, would not be allowed to pee in the backyard grass. I giggled, and asked, "well where should she pee?" She just kind of fumbled around before telling me she would have to pee at the park down the street. (Um, no.) Or the other agent, that kept reiterating how the street out front wasn't really all that busy, totally safe for small children, right before he was almost t-boned exiting the property. Maria, is a straight-shooter. She was also courteous enough to send the preliminary clause wording for us to look over before the overall contract was ready.

Let me go ahead and say, I hate this kind of stuff. I just assume everyone has good intentions and operates out of logic and or doing what is morally right, so big contracts like this irritate me. Do we really have to outline that we will use the water softener element that has been installed in the house? I guess we do. Upon research into the contract and clauses we found some real "You're not in Kansas anymore," humdingers. First, we must have a TV license, or should I say, pay a TV tax. Don't think Zac didn't pounce at the opportunity to say he was going to throw all the TVs in the harbor as a symbolic protest of this tax. But yes, we must register one TV in our household and pay a tax. Someone can come to your door and ask for your tv license and fine you if it is not up to date. I would really hate to have that job.

Second, we must register with our Parish to pay a council tax. Do you see the trend? Do you also see our travel fund dwindling?

Through all of these revelations, we are still considering ourselves lucky. Our new landlord and current owner of the Guinea Pig Palace, seems to be a kind and unique individual. We know he has rented to military before and was so encouraged by the experience that he waived the referencing round of the process. So we do not have to provide any references of our good tenancy. After the contract is signed, he will be our direct contact for questions about the property and will perform most of the house maintenance. (A handy-man, Zac is elated.) We also can see through email traffic that he uses old school emoji speak... Like smiley face- (o: and the winky face- (o; (Renaissance man, I'm elated.) I have a really good feeling about the future with Mr. M, even Maria could not tell me his first name, they just all call him Mr. M.

There has been a lot leading up to the contract phase on Monday. After some back and forth between the current tenant and Mr. M, the only downside of our contract is that we cannot move in until Sept 4th. Thats right, we will be homeless for another month and some change. This was not what I imagined, in my version of things, I would have a house set up right before our kids started school Aug 27th. When reality and my imagination collide, you can bet there is copious amounts of gin and bourbon waiting to soften the blow. After a solid night of cock-tailing I was able to count some of the blessings in this situation. I am going to list them, not only for you, but to remind myself when I am locked away in the bathroom flat to get some alone time, that it is all for the best.

  1. This gives us more time in central London to do the tourist thing.

  2. I am grateful the Mr. M wants the house to be in great order before we move in.

  3. A month is not really that long, in the grand scope of things.

  4. This is allowing us more time to settle other things like obtaining a license, buying a car and figuring out car insurance.

  5. Flat living has been good experience for our kids, they now understand public transportation and city life. We are broadening their world view.

  6. There is enough gin on Baker street. You can do this.

So I will make a concession to refer to above list when I am ready to pull my hair out. I will plan fun outings and trips to make this time memorable if not comfortable. Getting my pen and paper ready for what comes tomorrow. Thinking of adding a clause to the contract that reads, "New tenant should get one pick of previous tenant's guinea pig litter." Stay tuned.

(Me, talking real estate to some agent, over tea of course)

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