It has been shown that buying a house is a stressful affair, along with divorce, redundancy, Christmas, and your child being gifted. In Britain we love buying houses, whereas in Scandinavia they are happy to just rent somewhere stylish and join the police.
The stress associated with buying a house has a very simple explanation: nobody actually knows how to do it. Sadly, solicitors, estate agents and mortgage brokers have had no experience whatsoever of the process and have to start from scratch with each individual buyer. For example, if a solicitor had ever done any conveyancing before they would already have the contract document available and could just cut and paste the address. (footnote: conveyancing is the simple process of transferring the ownership of a house from one person to another. It is similar to going into a shop, picking up a bag of pasta and taking it to the till. However, on the way to the till the supermarket is taken over by pirates and you are held hostage for three years. During this time, you will have your toes cut off and when you are finally released, you find that your best friend has stolen your identity and run up huge debts on your credit card. As you hand over the ransom money to the cashier you will immediately be diagnosed with depression and told that you are overweight and badly dressed. She will also tell you that your receipt cannot be printed as it has been sent off to a monastery in Scotland where it is being slowly copied onto vellum and each digit illuminated in gold leaf by nuthatches. As you leave the store you will be arrested for shoplifting and undergo a thorough cavity search).
For most home buyers though, particularly those who are known as first time buyers (this means it is the first time they have ever bought a house – not the first time they have ever bought anything. That would be absurd. For example, if they are buying a house they will definitely have already bought alcohol and their own pants), they are ignorant of this fact and thus regard the process of house buying as something enjoyable and exciting.
The first thing a house buyer must do is to look at houses. This involves going into other people’s homes and pretending to be interested. At this stage you will either (a) love or (b) hate the house. If (a) you will fail to notice that there is no mains electricity. If (b) you should be polite and not mention the smell of dog, laugh at the bedding, or suggest they don’t leave their pants drying on the radiators.
In an uncharacteristic moment of fair play, the Government tried to introduce The Home Information Pack. This was a document to inform potential purchasers everything they needed to know about the house before they bought it. This would include important facts such as who died there, and how. Sadly this plan was shelved and so home buyers have to rely on only two sources of information: the surveyor, and the current owners. The surveyor will visit the house on your behalf and conduct a full structural survey. Because of health and safety, they are actually not allowed to stand on ladders or crane their necks so the information they provide is, on the whole, useless. Nevertheless, they will charge you £600 for a report which will show areas of concern that will be categorised as:
Green – you will be told if the door handles are nice, and that there is, in general, a roof. Long term maintenance will include advice on Farrow and Ball paint
Amber – be careful not to buy a corner sofa, and the roof is, in general, vaguely covering most of your house. Medium term maintenance may include suggestions on nice architraves and soffits. (Footnote: No one knows what soffits are)
Red – death will occur. However, you should contact an Albanian builder who will tell you that where he comes from that dangerous soffit would be quite acceptable and that the displaced chimney merely provides additional ventilation. This will reassure you and you can go ahead and buy the house. If you are not happy with your structural survey and decide to withdraw, the next potential purchaser will also request a survey from the same surveyor who did yours. (Footnote: surveyors are very rich)
You are also advised to have a full electrical survey. This involves a man poking a screwdriver with a light on the end into sockets. If the screwdriver lights up and he does not die, you may feel reassured.
Nor are the current owners an objective source of help.
|What they say||What they mean|
|Oh the man next door is really quiet||But his children are feral and will steal food from your bins|
|We have been very happy here||We were happy last Tuesday when we won the lottery and finally realised we could move|
|The heating is very economical||If you never use it|
|There are new carpets in the bedroom||It was the only way we could hide the blood stains|
|This is a lovely light room||There is no roof|
|I have rewired the entire house, fitted a new bathroom suite and built this extension||I am a hairdresser|
There is some legislation that protects buyers. This includes the Feature Wall Act of 2003 which states “any home that is offered for purchase must have a feature wall which must be decorated with wallpaper upon which is printed chrysanthemums in colours unknown to nature”. Before the act, walls hardly featured at all, other than as structures to hold up the roof, or on which to hang pictures of your family that have been taken by professionals to make them look as if they are (a) loads of fun, or (b) on an album cover. These will be very large and presented on canvas. Feature walls are important way of drawing the eye from the telly.
To buy a house you need to get a mortgage. A mortgage is a loan that you can only get if you can show that you don’t actually need it. All homes are owned by banks. The banks are now mainly owned by the government. This means that all houses are actually council houses.