It proved to be third time lucky for us when it comes to rental properties. We’ve known all along that we don’t want to buy when we first get back – we need some time to settle back in and decide where we want to be. But we didn’t realize quite what a challenge it would be to find a decent rental property, even having retained the services of a professional home finding firm in the UK.
The problem was two-fold: First, we had a lot of quite specific requirements on property size, location and style. I know lots of people like them, but new builds and estates (or ‘developments’ as they’re called in the US) are just not for us. So we wanted a character property, but not one that needed any work doing because, as it’s a rental, we’ll be stuck living with whatever state the house is in. Then there was the size requirement – most rental properties are one or two-bedrooms. The landlords buy them as an investment and rent them out to single people or young couples who can’t yet afford to buy a home. But because we work from home, we needed two rooms that could be used as offices along with at least two bedrooms so we can have guests to stay. And then there was location – we wanted to be somewhere pretty and quiet but also not miles from civilization. And finally there was the Internet. Having discovered how slow it is throughout large swathes of Britain, we decided we needed to be somewhere where we could get superfast broadband.
First we found this place:
Not quite as big as we needed and on a main road – but set far enough back that it wasn’t really too much of a compromise. We made an offer of the full asking price and waited. And waited. And waited. The landlord wouldn’t respond! And when she finally did return the estate agent’s calls it was to say she couldn’t decide what to do and where was her furniture going to go if she had to move out? We thought this seemed like the kind of thing you’d think about before putting your house up for rental, but it turned out that her husband had died suddenly a year ago so we could understand her confusion and we moved on.
The next house we tried for was this one:
Not in the ideal location (too far from my friends and family) and the kitchen was a bit too small and dated, but we knew we had to compromise on something and everything else about it was perfect – the price was low, there were beams and open fireplaces and exposed stone walls. It was in a beautiful setting and yet close to a decent-sized town, and there was a cosy village pub just over the road (let’s keep the important things in mind!) So just a few hours after we had seen the home finder’s report, with pictures and video, we put in an offer for the full asking price. This time we got an answer right away, but unfortunately it wasn’t the one we wanted. The family received another offer on the same day, and this one was from someone they knew. So they accepted that offer and declined ours.
By this point, I was starting to get a little stressed. I’m a real nest builder and not having a home lined up was niggling at me all day every day. So I started to check Rightmove every day, several times a day. The next time a good property came online, I was going to make damn sure we were in first. We sent the home finder to see a couple of houses that weren’t quite right, but then lo and behold, a great house became available in a village near Harrogate – one of our original target locations. I found it two hours after it went online and the home finder called right away to book an appointment, getting the very first slot a full day before anyone else was scheduled to see it. She loved it and we loved the photos she sent, so we put our offer in that same day. The next morning we woke up to a message from Lisa (home finder) telling us that the house was ours and that she had paid the deposit for us out of her own pocket in order to make sure that other viewings were cancelled.
Now the house shows up on Rightmove as “Let Agreed” and the estate agents are checking our references. All being well, we will have it from mid-April. Our furniture probably won’t arrive until early May so we’ll be in the temporary place for a few weeks, but just knowing we have a home to go to is such a blessed relief!
Here it is:
It was built in 1910 for the local doctor but has been recently renovated throughout. It’s half a mile from the train station with trains into Harrogate, Leeds and York. It overlooks fields full of sheep and lambs. And it’s one minute’s walk from the village pub. What more could we ask for?!
Not that I’m getting ahead of myself, but I’ve already been window shopping online for patio furniture (there’s a nice deck at the back of the house), a breakfast table for the sunroom, new sofas, a dining table … Perhaps I should wait until we arrive and can measure up?
Which by the way, will be in 33 days from now 🙂