Our First Place – Part 4 – Settlement

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Thanks for joining me again for this final post in my Our First Place series.

It details the journey my husband and I took when me made the biggest purchase of our lives – our first home.

It’s a topic that I feel many can relate to despite how difficult it is to buy a house at the moment in this economy.

For those of you who are taking the plunge for the first time I wish you good luck!

I hope this series has given you some encouragement and food for thought. It’s not an easy ride for most and I salute you for going on the journey!

In today’s post I relate my experiences following the acceptance of our offer to buy our first house.

Once our 10-day cooling off period had elapsed and we were well and truly locked into the purchase of this house our days were filled with preparations for the move.

Moving house isn’t fun at the best of times but when you have two young children and few people to help it becomes chaotic.

What followed was 6 weeks of anxiety and stress.

They say the 6 weeks that follow the end of the cooling off period to the settlement date fly by. And they do.

They also say you should expect that the settlement date may be delayed due to unforeseen reasons – which at first, I didn’t believe.

The party that causes the delay is usually penalized for doing so and I for one, was determined that we would not be the perpetrators of such an infraction.

I like to think I had the first few weeks pretty well under control.

Moving boxes and packing gear were ordered, unwanted clutter was disposed of or donated, the landlord was notified and utility services were arranged for transfer.

Everything was going to plan until approx. 2 weeks before the date of settlement my husband was notified by the seller’s real estate agent that a problem had occurred with the swimming pool pump. It had broken down and would take 4 weeks to repair.

The seller had arranged the repair and requested that we settle on the scheduled day and wait for the pool pump to be repaired after we moved in.

Technically we didn’t have to take possession of the house unless it was in the condition that it was when we submitted our offer to buy it.

When we did, the house had a fully functioning pool pump and filter system.

Delaying the settlement date to insist the seller return the property to its original condition prior to this issue would have been deemed acceptable according to our conveyancer.

The problem was, it put all our best laid plans to waste.

Delaying the settlement would have meant asking for an extension of our lease and continuing to pay an additional 4 weeks rent which wasn’t factored into the moving budget.

Also it would mean contacting all of our utility services and delaying the transfer of our accounts. It doesn’t seem like a big deal until you’re left waiting on hold with the telephone company, internet provider, insurance companies and the like for up to an hour a day.

With all of our belongings packed up and in boxes we were practically living on takeaways with cushions and mattresses to sit on.

Our conveyancer to her credit tried to insist that the seller either replace the pool pump with a new one or allow us to withhold money from the settlement until the pump was repaired. After all, if the repaired pump still didn’t work who would be liable to rectify the issue then?

To our surprise this request was flatly refused by the seller.

Our conveyancer said we could either delay the settlement on the basis that the house was not in the condition we were expecting and wait until the repair was complete to make sure it was done properly or accept the seller’s terms to take possession of the house on the original settlement date and wait for the pool pump to be repaired.

If we chose the latter, the seller would be released from the transaction after settlement and it would be very difficult to claim money back to rectify an issue should the repair prove ineffective.

We were angry. We couldn’t understand the seller’s stubbornness.

It made sense to us to withhold some money from the settlement to ensure that the repair to the pool was done correctly. We were fully prepared to release it to them if the repair became a success.

But the sellers were steadfast in their refusal to cooperate and it only added to our anxieties about what we would be walking into when they finally handed over the keys.

I had suspicions that the sellers had botched the repair and wanted to hide it until it was too late for us to hold them responsible for it.

I felt a deep-seated mistrust begin to embed itself within me.

If that wasn’t enough the sellers had placed a very large pile of garbage and construction refuse on the front lawn of the property and simply left it there.

Numerous requests to remove it were returned with promises that it would be gone before settlement day but all the seller seemed prepared to do was move the pile from the front lawn to the kerbside for collection.

Fortunately, the council confirmed that an inorganic pick up had been arranged for the pile however the pile turned out to be so large that it equated to almost 3 times the normal load.

Residents in this area are allowed 4 inorganic refuse collections per year so before we even moved in, 3 of our allotted collections had been taken up by the previous owner’s mess!

As anyone who has moved house knows, there is plenty of clean up that follows.

Packaging material needs to be disposed of properly, random junk and clutter needs to be thrown out and a free inorganic collection along with recycling is a good way of getting rid of the mess.

We were faced with not only having to potentially repair the pool pump ourselves but also hiring a skip to take away our moving rubbish.

As far as the pool went, my husband decided to call the pool maintenance company in charge of the repair to get further information about the broken pump.

He was told that it was recommended to the seller that the pump be replaced entirely with a new system because of its age and that a repair would be a temporary fix which, while cheaper would only last a few months at best.

The seller would hear none of buying new pumps and insisted on a repair which was only a fraction of the cost.

It was also recommended that while the pump wasn’t working, extra chemicals should be added in specific measures to the water to maintain its clarity, cleanliness and safety to swim in.

The seller simply bought a giant bottle of chlorine and dumped the whole thing into the water paying little attention to whether it was safe or not.

After hearing our plight the pool maintenance people offered to sell us a new pool pump at a discount by subtracting the cost of the repair of the old pump already paid for by the seller.

They assured us of its effectiveness and would provide us with a warranty. And if we settled on the original date they would come out shortly after to install the new system for us.

We would also have to purchase chemicals for the pool water and take the time to get the levels right before using the pool.

As the costs kept mounting so did my anger and resentment towards the sellers.

To this day, my husband and I are still disgusted by their behaviour.

In the end we settled on the agreed date. We had the pool repair company come out to install the new pool pump shortly after moving in which is still working beautifully almost a year later.

Overall it cost us less to replace the pump than it would have to pay the extra 4 weeks rent if we had delayed the settlement for the repair.

I managed to find a large skip bin at a discount rate which meant we could get rid of all our moving rubbish and clutter in one go.

While the weeks leading up to settlement came with unexpected expenses and stress I am pleased to say we got there in the end. And it was worth it.

We love our new home and hope to be here for many years to come.

We’ve loved being able to put our own stamp on the place and decorating it to our tastes.

Also, no landlord inspections and no rent!

Building equity in our own home feels like money well spent.

We love our first place and are grateful for all the lessons learned along the way however hard they were to take.

I hope to take this journey again someday in the pursuit of an investment property somewhere along the line but for now, I’m bringing my house hunting adventure to a close.

Thanks for coming along.

  • Lady V
*Disclaimer: Please note that all experiences related in this post along with all others are personal to the author and make no claim of offering professional advice of any kind on the subject matter. For further information regarding purchasing property it is recommended that you make enquiries with the relevant professionals in your area.
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