I dropped a quick four lines into my last post about having viewed a house and put an offer in. Well things have moved on very rapidly in the last week or so and I am pleased to say that the sale is agreed. To me, obviously. I had to increase my offer very slightly from what I originally bid, but still ended up agreeing the purchase at £1000 under asking price. I am very excited at this development, things are really moving forward and it’s just the best house I could ever hope to get for my budget. A quick bit of backstory.
Back in December last year, after Mrs K told me that she wanted a divorce, and I slowly came to accept that it was going to happen this way, I started tentatively looking at property websites. Just to see what was available. I was able to go into online mortgage calculators and work out what would be feasible based upon mine and Mrs K’s incomes, our ages, the value and equity in our current home and so on, and come up with a budget for how much I could afford to spend. Even then, I did have a few people asking me why I wasn’t going to rent for a while, but to be honest renting to me just seems like money down the drain. As a monthly expense it’s higher than the mortgage for the same property, plus there’s an end point at which you can live mortage-free. Sadly, my own mortgage-free age is drifting out from 58 to 67 now, but that’s the way things go. But I know one person who is paying more in rent for a one-bedroom studio apartment than I will be paying for a modern 3-bedroom townhouse. But I digress (some things never change!)
I had a few basic criteria for a new home.
- I wanted it to be fairly close to the current family home. Mrs K and I are going to be sharing custody so I don’t want it to be a massive trek for the girls between the two houses.
- It has to be in the right area. For anyone outside Northern Ireland reading this, that doesn’t just mean a nice area, it means I have to be aware of the ghettoisation of the province. I was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic school. I don’t believe a word of it now, and I’m entirely ambivalent about the Unionist/Nationalist thing, but if I turned up in a staunchly Protestant/Unionist area, there would be enough knuckleheads there who don’t what one of “themmuns” in their area, they wouldn’t stop to ask. Because I might be an atheist, but I’m a catholic atheist. That’s the worst sort. And that’s before you throw the whole trans thing into the mix.
- Ideally, it would have three bedrooms. One for me, and one each for Amy and Melissa. I had kind of persuaded them at one point that sharing a room with bunk beds would be fun, but really it would be quite the compromise for them.
- I would prefer a house over an apartment, although I would consider the right apartment.
- Ideally, I would prefer no garden. Give me a deck or a patio over a lawn every time. I just don’t get the urge to have a garden with all that maintenance at all. I believe I have occasionally on this blog alluded to the wonderful Deeper Meaning Of Liff by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd. A dictionary of things there aren’t any words for yet. According to The Deeper Meaning Of Liff, I suffer from “Lutton Gowts”, which is the opposite of green fingers, the effortless propensity to cause plant death. So the less greenery the better.
- Something that wouldn’t need too much redecoration by me. Maybe just a lick of paint.
- Gas central heating (as opposed to oil). Although not a deal-breaker, I don’t particularly want to revisit the days of the first house I shared with Mrs K where a few times we inadvertently ran out of oil and went cold. Plus, instant hot water.
While browsing on PropertyPal (Northern Ireland’s equivalent of Zoopla in GB) in mid-December, I found something that fitted the bill very nicely. In fact, incredibly nicely. It was a mid-terrace townhouse, it’s own parking space round the back. There was an archway through to the private parking, and this house owned the rooms above the arch, so it was much bigger upstairs than down. Nicely decorated living room, fitted kitchen, three bedrooms, separate small office/study, gas central heating, fully decked back with no grass and a good wall and fence for a bit of privacy. It was, in short, the perfect house for me in that price range. Oh, and no more than 15 minutes’ walk from the current family home. So I kept watching.
I watched it throughout January and it was still on the market throughout the month. Then on 1st February Mrs K and I went to see a local mortgage broker to find out exactly what we could afford. The news was reasonably positive (the web mortgage calculators were right!) and so straight afterwards I strode just a few doors down the street into the estate agent that was selling that property and asked to arrange a viewing.
“I’m sorry, the sale was agreed on that property yesterday”.
I was quite crestfallen. The agent valiantly tried to persuade me to try something else, but they were either the same house but without the bit over the arch (losing a bedroom and the study) or else it was the same house plus a loft conversion making it out of my price range. So I shuffled off. Anyway, it was probably still too early because at that point the mortgage broker had sent us off to get something formalised with a solicitor regarding my maintenance payment to Mrs K, so that could be included in her income. And that took a while.
In fact, it was the last week of March by the time we got that. And as soon as it came through, I fired up PropertyPal and looked again. And there, just added the previous day, was the house that I had really liked the look of but had apparently been sale agreed at the end of January. So I got straight on to the estate agent asking to book a viewing. It turns out that the sale fell through the previous week and so the house was back on the market again, and there was already an offer in albeit at £5,000 below the asking price. With the timing, it just seemed like it was meant to be.
On Monday 3rd April, Amy and I went to view the house. Melissa, it turned out, was quite upset that she didn’t get to come too, but it was a 7pm viewing and she was just out of the bath and in her dressing gown. Long story short, Amy and I both loved it. The living room is really nicely decorated, I might need to replace wallpaper on one wall but apart from that it’s fine. The kitchen is just perfect, plus with all the appliances being built-in, they come with the house, so I won’t have to buy a washing machine, fridge freezer or dishwasher. The back is fine if a little small, but I can just see myself out there in the summer with a wee glass of something. There’s a shed too which the current owner keeps his bike in, and which I will keep my bike in too – result!). And then there’s the upstairs. My goodness it’s huge. If the downstairs is a little on the small side (and it is), the upstairs is huge. Three massive bedrooms, definitely bigger than the bedrooms in our current house. And the little study will be perfect for a computer room where I can sit and type more of this garbage till my heart’s content.
As I was leaving, I said to the couple selling the house that they had it looking very good. I really felt for them with the reply – that I wouldn’t have said that a week earlier because everything was boxed up ready to move. Then their buyer pulled out because their own sale fell through, and the vendor of the house they were buying wasn’t prepared to wait for them to find another buyer. So they had lost their buyer, and then lost their new home. They hinted that this time round they wanted to just sell and move into rented accommodation until they found somewhere else, which told me that they were looking to move out asap. I said that with arranging the mortgage and the divorce going on, the earliest I could complete would probably be June, which they seemed very happy with. The woman then told me the price at which they had previously agreed the sale, in a way which basically told me “offer us the same and it’s yours”.
I phoned the next day and offered £500 less. A bit cheeky, but you never know. The estate agent wanted to know about my circumstances, did I have a house to sell, what about a mortgage etc. I explained about the divorce if not about the transition, and the broker quickly worked out that my equivalent of selling a house was Mrs K getting her remortgage approved, because that’s where my deposit is coming from. That was on Tuesday 4th. I told her that Mrs K was meeting the mortgage broker the following Saturday morning so I would know better the following week. The estate agent phoned me on Tuesday morning to ask how things had gone. “Fine”, I replied. The application was in process, and the broker (who the estate agent knows, they are practically neighbours after all) didn’t foresee any difficulties. She then hinted that the vendors were looking a little more before they agreed to sell the house to me, so I said I would match the price they had previously agreed. The estate agent replied that she was confident that would be acceptable.
Forward two more days, and an appointment with the mortgage broker for me (fine, thanks) and it was all official. Sale agreed, house off the market. I’ve got my house. My home where I will be Kirsty and only Kirsty, where the neighbours won’t know me as anyone other than the real me. It’s so close. June is looking very do-able. In about ten weeks’ time, there will be no more Bob ever again. Wow.
Of course now my daughters are all go planning their new bedrooms. We took a trip to IKEA on Good Friday to browse round bedroom furniture, and a bit of living room furniture too. I might get my suite out of DFS though – if I’m lucky they might have a sale on. Then I have arranged to go round there again on Wednesday this week, this time bringing Melissa so she can see her new bedroom, and also bringing a tape measure. I’m not bringing any furniture from the family home so I can buy furniture to fit the house rather than vice versa when most fortysomething people move house, but I still need to find out the detailed dimensions of the house before I buy anything. It’s all go and all very exciting!
I was going to write a bit about 3 of my nieces being introduced to their Auntie Kirsty as well, but I’ve probably written enough for one post now. So the very short version: It was fine, I was given my first bouquet of flowers. All good. Actually that’s about it. So now I did write about it.
Other than the house and the nieces, to be honest the days of just writing about every time I get to go out “en femme” are so far in the past there’s no point. I spend the majority of my non-working days as my real, female, self, and that’s going to become all my days pretty soon. So writing about book group (The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes 7/10 and Small Gods by Terry Pratchett 4/10) seems a bit excessive. It’s not a literature blog. And there’s just so much going on. Things are going to get a bit manic in the next couple of months. The work situation is about to turn from planning to doing, and that’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks. News of my transition is going to become much more widespread at a senior level in the organisation, so let’s hope that’s all ok.
There’s just so much going on. It’s all going so well. I’m waiting on everything falling apart and hoping that it wont. Time will tell.