And so the house move saga comes to an end and a new chapter in the lives of the Bagnalls begins. Yes, Friday 1st November (two weeks after we exchanged contracts) we completed and took possession of our new home, while still retaining possession of our old home.
House moves are very rarely straightforward but this has seen its fair share of twists and turns.
We first saw the house on Monday 13th May 2013 (another 13 to add to the various 13s following us about this year – no triskaidekaphobia here) and fell in love with it. It was the first and only house that we saw that we liked for both the house itself and its location. Although far from perfect (is there such a thing?) it ticked a considerable number of boxes, including the majority of our major boxes but was over budget. We chatted about it and decided to go above our budget and put a cheeky offer in. Not surprisingly the offer was rejected but we were in no position to increase or indeed make any kind of counter-offer for we did not have a buyer for our property, so we sat and waited.
A couple of weeks later, the sellers had not had an offer on the property (and neither had we) and they said that they would be prepared to accept a lower offer than our cheeky offer, if we could start the purchase ball rolling. Unfortunately, we didn’t have an offer on our house so that opportunity passed us by.
Then we had a day of mixed emotions. An offer was made on our house that we accepted but on the same weekend an offer was made on the house that we were buying that blew us out of the water, we simply could not match it. At that moment it looked like we were going to be homeless with our buyers looking for a quick sale (which suited us too) and no house suitable for us to buy.
Then the twists of twists. Two days after accepting the offer on our house BAA submitted a new proposal to the Airports Commission (the Davies Commission) for the expansion of Heathrow Airport. Stanwell Moor is nestled between Staines Moor, the western section of the M25, the King George VI Reservoir and Heathrow Airport and as such has been encroached before by the construction of the reservoir, the construction of the M25 and, more recently, the construction of Heathrow’s Terminal 5. The South West expansion proposal however was the first time that it has been threatened directly. The South West expansion proposal for the third runway at Heathrow airport will see the complete destruction of Stanwell Moor, the village that the Cathralls have called home for the last 50-odd years. Obviously this is only a proposal, one of nearly 50 that affect the South East of England, and there is no reason to believe it will be the one that the Airports Commission give their backing to (indeed that backing will not come for any of the proposals until at least 2015) nevertheless it is a sword of Damocles hanging over the village.
In complete fairness to our buyers they investigated the situation thoroughly including calling council members and the Heathrow commission hotline. However, they decided that it was a risk they were not willing to take (and I can understand that, as they were moving into the area and as such have no emotional ties to Stanwell Moor) and thus pulled out of the purchase.
This now left us with no house to buy and a house that no one was likely to buy.
There was still time for one more twist. The chain for the alternate buyers was looking decidedly dodgy and the sellers were becoming nervous and they asked if we could up our offer and they would then go with us. We still had no buyer for our house and we could not match the other offer but we spoke to a financial adviser to seek the possibility of releasing equity in our current house by turning it into a buy-to-let (or strictly ‘let-to-buy’) and scraped all our investments together and put in a final offer. The sellers spent a couple of days mulling the options over and decided to go with us. The rest, they say, is history! We have the house that we wanted but have become reluctant landlords in order to realise that dream. Assuming we can rent the property out without too many void periods or anything going tragically wrong then we should be fine, at least in the short term. Depending on the Airports Commission decision this may either be a short experiment or a potential pension investment. If we can’t rent it out or the void periods start adding up it could be a money pit that bankrupts us. Life for the Bagnalls is never boring!
So it is goodbye Stanwell Moor, hello Staines-Upon-Thames (yes, this is its official name!).
Peace and Love