I trecked out to Peterborough today, looked around the city some, found the Estate Agent Corner (why DO they always appear in clusters?) and got down to business. I registered with one agency that dithered and muttered and is meant to get back to me on Monday about seeing places next weekend.
Then I went to the only one that actually sent me info about the properties I saw on their web site. They were much more enthusiastic and I got to see three places today. The first was bloody awful and worried me. Is this all I can afford? I was wondering. There was no way I was going to show an interest in it - there was damp, it was in real need of decorating, the kitchen smelt of curry and the doors didn't fit into the frames properly.
My hopes weren't high after this, but I was given directions to a place around 20 minutes out of the city (20 minutes if you don't go in the wrong direction halfway there...) and I was shown around by the current owner. It is a little far from the train station, and the outside doesn't look great but the inside was brilliant. Great kitchen and dining area. Three bedrooms, a little on the small side, but perfectly adequate. Cosy living room. Nice small garden with a shed. Extremely well maintained throughout (uh-oh, been spending too much time listening to estate agents!). Suffice to say, I came away wanting it. Especially given the history - it was on the market and sold before Christmas but the buyers messed the owner around leading him to lose his potential property that was next along the chain. He brought down the price for the second attempt and it took it to just below the point where stamp duty kicks in.
Back at the estate agents' office we took a trip to property number three. Another guy in the place was really keen on this place, told us how we'd need to be quick on this as there was lots of interest and it was marvellously redecorated and ... etc etc ... So we went to check it out, me and Mr Estate Agent. The layout of the place was a bit weird, like the first one. The stairs are ultra steep and at the top there is a bedroom to the left and to the right. Going through the one to the left brings you to another bedroom. Who wants people traipsing through their room every night?! And the bathroom is downstairs and off the kitchen which I'm not too keen on. But despite being freshly decorated and newly carpeted, this place has some pretty nasty damp problems as well. At this was going for the same price as the really good house.
We got back to the office and I made a snap decision. Either Nice House is underpriced, or Nasty House and Okay House With Problems are overpriced. But the price is something I can afford, I can put up with (make use of, even) the walking distance as it's all healthy exercise and by putting in an offer I save the hassle of wandering through to Peterborough every weekend for the foreseeable future. So I did it. Made an offer, had it accepted, and Monday I get to do the scary solicitor stuff and start to work out all the finances.
I'm buying a house. A real one with walls and bedrooms and everything. Eep. Wish me luck!