There are few pleasures greater than the chinking of old tea cups full of bubbly while surrounded by boxes, knowing that you’ve successfully made the transition from your old home to your new one.
But there’s such a long way to go before you can celebrate with that sweet exhaustion. Moving house is a little like giving birth: you forget how painful it was and only remember the lovely bits. That must be why we wait until we’re all settled in and have everything just as we want it, then end up getting itchy feet and say we’ll move ‘one last time’.
When making my decision to sell halfway through lockdown, I definitely forgot the consequences that come with it. Mainly having to keep the house scrupulously clean and tidy, making sure the dog’s bed, which is bigger than the sofa, is put in the garden when people come for viewings so that it doesn't skew the proportions, and having to light/activate every possible home fragrance option to cover the constant smell of his farts.
It felt completely bizarre that the first people I had in my house in months weren’t my parents or my sister, but an estate agent in a smart suit with gloves, a mask and weird plastic sock things over his brogues.
Now that working from home is a proper thing, I turned the spare room - previously my absolute storage saviour and dumping ground - into an office. At the grand age of 44, my office makes me feel like I really have my shit together in a metaphorical sense, but in a literal sense it actually means there’s nowhere to put any shit, so I’ve had to tidy every surplus knick knack and piece of furniture away. By 'tidy', I mean put anything I couldn’t get in the loft in a cupboard, which means that every time I open a cupboard door, half of my possessions fall on my head.
The absolute worst bit is the utter awkwardness of having to follow prospective buyers around with inane commentary when they can see quite clearly for themselves that they’re in the kitchen, thank you, and that the oven is integral (yes, I did use that as a selling point the other week).
Viewings and coronavirus are also not the best of combinations. It felt completely bizarre that the first people I had in my house in months weren’t my parents or my sister, but an estate agent in a smart suit with gloves, a mask and weird plastic things over his brogues, closely followed by two random strangers. But at least they were nice. On the other end of the scale, a family recently turned up to view who had all the charm of a fart in a phonebox. The pandemic did nothing to stop them from opening the airing cupboard to check the boiler, and turning on the taps to check the water pressure. Without asking! And that wasn’t before the woman cornered me in my bedroom - having not even looked around properly - to ask me a series of questions that had nothing to do with the house itself, including:
- Ofsted reports of the local primary and junior schools (I don’t know)
- When the property was last rewired (I don’t know)
- How much my utility bills are (I don’t know, but I know I should know)
- What it’s like in the snow (snowy)
Worse still, they gave Ozzy a look of disdain when they walked in and asked me to put him in the garden because they 'didn't like dogs'. I was outraged, and so was poor Ozzy!
I promised myself that I'd do things in chronological order this time, so no viewings before I’ve sold mine as I’d only see one and fall in love with it. Of course I then promptly viewed one - Dad and brother-in-law in tow because I can’t be trusted to see beyond the soft furnishings - and fell in love with it.
I’ve written before about being single and the times when it would be nice to have a man around. House viewings definitely fall into that category. Anyone who knows me will appreciate the fact that although I can make a poem up on the spot, or identify any Mariah Carey song from its first two notes, I’m not very good at practical stuff. As my Dad always says: “You’re very clever love, but you have no common sense”. I can’t answer questions about how old or energy efficient the house is or when the heating system was fitted because I find such topics intolerably boring. This became mortifyingly apparent the other week, when I realised quite randomly that after the last two viewers had asked to see the immersion heater, I’d actually showed them the boiler (the thing that wears the jacket).
Still, I will remain hopeful that the magic viewer will buy it for the same reason I did – a pretty, private garden and a lovely vibe. Nothing to do with the boring business of bills or boilers (or whatever the thing is that wears the jacket).