At this stage in the process, there was very little left for my brother and I to do. It was a little surreal - we were buying our first house, one of the most important milestones in our lives to date, and yet we seemed to be little more than passive observers to the process.
Over the space of several weeks, a variety of indescribably dull but technically very important papers arrived in the post. The first of these was official confirmation from the vendor’s solicitors of what was and was not included in the sale. No surprises there – some people may choose to take their windows and doors with them when they sell a house, but our vendors do not rank among their number. The document follows a standard format set out by the law society, which is basically a list of various things that one might associate with an otherwise empty house and whether they were to be included in the sale (in this case “included” or “none present” being the only answers).
This document appeared again in the second bundle of papers to arrive. And the third. In fact, we seem to have acquired four or five copies of it over the course of the purchase. Clearly our vendors were very keen to confirm for us that we would not have to buy new light fittings if we didn’t want to.
Thankfully, this wasn’t all we were getting for our money. Our solicitors were also conducting a number of other checks on our behalf, including local authority searches, water supply inquiries, checks for historical contamination incidents in the vicinity and a plethora of other such things. They also sent us some contracts to sign, which provided a brief feeling of progress in an eternity of waiting.
Unfortunately, there was one thing we couldn’t get our hands on that was, due to the comments on Santander’s valuation report, quite important. The surveyor had confirmed the value of the property, subject to building regulations certificates being available for the front extension.
This was the final thing needed to be able to exchange. Our solicitors contacted their solicitors, there was much back and forth, the estate agents got nervous because nobody was talking to them, and finally enquiries were made of the local council in a last ditch effort to source a copy of the elusive certificates.
Their response was very informative: it was at this point that we discovered that the extension, being older than I am, does in fact pre-date the introduction of the certificates in question. We had spent two weeks waiting for paperwork that does not exist.
What was even more upsetting was that we had to keep waiting. After all, the valuation was conditional upon those certificates being produced. With their very existence confirmed as a fiction, we needed Santander’s say so to proceed with the purchase, so our solicitor got in touch to request approval.
Another week passed. All was silent. Somewhere, a cricket chirped. I am quite sure that at one point I spotted a tumbleweed. Having grown just as fed up as we had, our solicitor got creative and told Santander that we wished to complete on the coming Friday. Although quite false, this proved just the thing to get a reaction, and we got the nod to proceed the next day. Who says honesty is the best policy? We provided our deposit, exchanged contracts on the next working day, and completed a week later.
So there you have it – the full process, from aimless browsing to plodding completion. Now we just have to do something about the decor...
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