Saturday, October 4, 2014

A moving story

Posted By on Sat, Oct 4, 2014 at 9:59 AM

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I have a confession: We, the Turners, all of relatively sound body and mind, are serial movers. That is to say we move a lot. In fact, my wife and I have just completed our sixth move in just 16 years. It’s an illness — pity us.

Any reasonably minded individual reading this would surely be asking, why? Why would you ever put yourself through the stress, the hassle, the frustration, the angst, the expense of moving so frequently?

It’s an excellent question. I can’t answer it, but it’s nonetheless an excellent question.

My wife-to-be and I initially lived in a rented house in England "up north," between Nottingham and Derby, before moving to the midlands, between Warwick and Stratford, into yet another rented house. As much as we enjoyed the midlands, we had fallen in love with an area a little further north called the Peak District, so we began looking for a home in a number of the gorgeous old villages that populated that historic region.

Many weeks and many, many viewings later, we finally found it: the idyllically named Rose Cottage, a house hewn from ancient stone taken from the very hills that surrounded it, located on the outskirts of the medieval village of Matlock, nestled in the heart of the Peak District. This was to be our new home, or so we thought.

We agreed upon a price and set a "tentative" closing date — "tentative" as in, the owner might have to move the date if he had nowhere to go by then. You see, he hadn’t even begun looking for a new home himself.

Yes, that concerned us, but we comforted ourselves in the knowledge that only a lunatic would put his home up for sale and agree on a deal with buyers when he had no intention of moving, right? 

Weeks became months, and still nothing happened. The owner insisted he was looking for a place to move to, but all signs were to the contrary. And so, despondent and disillusioned, we moved on. 

After another prolonged period of hunting and viewing, we finally settled on a suitable — but infinitely less charming — terraced property in the pleasant-enough town of Market Harborough. It wasn’t really the area we were looking in, it wasn’t really a house we loved — it certainly wasn’t Rose Cottage — but we were pragmatic. More than that, we were over it. It was good enough. The homeowner was a vicar, so that was at least a good sign. It should be a clean, straightforward deal with minimum fuss and only negligible amounts of crazy, right?

No such luck, again.

In England there is a practice in the property market so commonplace that it has birthed its own term: “gazumping.” Gazumping is wherein a home owner, having accepted an offer from a buyer, at some point between receiving that offer and signing the closing paperwork, accepts a better offer from another buyer, in the process screwing their original buyer.

If you’re American, please re-read that last sentence. Take a moment to digest it, to understand it, to appreciate it. There’s nothing like it stateside. Here, a deal is a deal. Very early in the sale process there’s money on the table, skin in the game, and legal ramifications for anyone who dares try to buck the system, as there should be. Not so in England.

After being turned over by a man of the cloth, my wife and I decided that the big guy upstairs had been trying to tell us something, and had now decided to dispense with all subtlety. It was at that moment we began exploring transatlantic property alternatives.

I think the wife and I are finally cured of our moving illness. We have already labeled this latest home our "20-year home," and sincerely expect to be sending the kids off to college from here. At that point, we’ll probably try to put the owner of Rose Cottage out of his misery and finally close on that place — and move again.

Mark Turner is formerly of Oxford, England, but has lived in America for the past 15 years, the majority of that time in Colorado. Mark enjoys playing soccer, hiking and biking when the weather's good, and when the weather's rotten, writing blog entries that he hopes will amuse and entertain. Mark can be followed on Twitter @melchett.

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