OMG Why Does It Take So Long To Sell A Property?

So, it’s been a while since I last wrote and that’s been due to a number of things, but mainly because I’ve been trying to sell some buy-to-let properties and that, dear reader, has not gone well.

I don’t know what to say about this hotter than hot market, apart from the fact I believe it to be a media myth.

Yes, the market may be scorchio when it comes to offers and people promising to buy your property, but let me tell you, it’s a different breed of sheep when you’re trying to complete on a property.

I honestly have no idea how anybody right now is managing to book the removal men because this has got to be the slowest, most labourious state of the market I’ve ever known.

And I know we’ve got Covid – I haven’t been living in a shed up a remote mountain for the last 18 months – but for Chrissakes, how can it be so difficult to send a frigging email?

I mean I just don’t get it – you’ve got these gazillionaires all prancing about with their multi-gazillion making bank accounts and putting rockets into places and spaces I’ve never heard of and doing all sorts of fancy pants things, and yet me here, I can’t even get a property past the finish line.

Which has made me wonder if I’m really cut out for this sales malarkey?

I mean, I know I’m not the most patient person in the world, but I’m struggling with the current piss-taking of every single property professional inhabiting the planet right now.

Just why is everything taking SO LONG?

I swear, this isn’t a difficult process.

But every single person seems to think it is and then quintuples whatever time estimate you think it would reasonably take to complete a sale.

I’ve been so close to losing it on several occasions it’s a wonder I’m still here. I think it must only be the copious amounts of Absolut and Mint Aero’s and ear chewing of my friends as to why I haven’t sacked every estate agent and told them where to stick their ‘For Sale’ boards.

And if I sound angry, you’re damn right I am.

If you’ve tried to sell a house and you’ve managed to complete the sale within a period of less than five months, I would like to know your secret. Do please spill the proverbial because I’m struggling to understand why everybody is so S-L-O-W.

Don’t they know another lockdown may be just around the corner? Hasn’t the pandemic taught us anything?

Like, life is for living now and let’s get done today what we can get done today because tomorrow may not happen?

I shake my head when I recall the property I bought earlier this year and which completed in under two months AND you had Christmas and New Year in-between AND the solicitors were closed for two weeks.

I mean, how can I buy a property so quickly and yet everybody else seems to be waiting for the number 12 bus (which is likely discontinued or diverted or delayed due to some random covid-related reason).

Anyway, my life right now involves a lot of waiting and not losing my shit. That means this blog post is a pure rant, because I think if I said what I really felt to anybody involved in my sales, they’d tell me to do one.

And I don’t really want to do one, I just wish people would understand empty properties are expensive; they’re a liability and they’re a security risk. I just really wish someone somewhere would pull their finger out of their orifice and do something productive on the keyboard instead!

Why I Am Selling My Buy To Let Properties

So, it would appear I have hit a point.

A really sharp, stab-your-finger sort of point.

I don’t know if it’s lockdown fatigue (and the excitement of being out and about again), or too long in this business.

But the point I’ve reached is: I’m selling, not letting.

And the whole thing kinda took me by surprise. You see, I was getting the properties ready to rent again. I was busy okaying various quotes for various works where various tenants hadn’t (yet again) looked after a nice property. And yet again, here I was replacing carpets that were just two years old.

And it struck me, like a weird idea (although it’s really not): I do not have to put up with this shit any longer.

Out of nowhere this blinding realisation came. And I know it sounds dumb, but you see as a landlord and property investor, you don’t really tend to sell properties you rent. As a landlord, you rent properties, it’s buy-to-let, eh?

Of course, I have sold properties over the years. But something about this time feels different. It’s like I’m actively looking for my exit.

And I’ve surprised even myself, because in the last 10 days I have now listed three properties. Three properties which I was about to list to let and instead have listed to sell.

20 years is how long I’ve owned one of the houses. The other two, are 18 years and 17 years respectively. If they were children, they would’ve finished school and would now be going to university!

So, I’ve pondered to myself what’s driving this (because if any more tenants give notice, I will also sell those). And I’ve realised it’s two key things:

  1. I’ve been in this business too long and I’m tired of the constant tenant trouble
  2. The current climate makes landlords too weak

Just to be clear, I’m not against tenants getting protection, there are some asshole landlords about who’ve made life very hard. But, little people like me, we play by the rules and we just continually get stiffed.

I dread reading the updates about what’s happening next in the world of landlording. The ‘breathing space’ regulations are something I have yet to check in detail, purely because I cannot face the prospect of trying to understand for how long can a tenant live without paying rent, while the landlord has to juggle everything to try and make the numbers stack.

And it drives me insane how powerless I am. Currently, we have some non-payers and a particularly anti-social tenant (part 4 needs it be written but I haven’t mustered the words yet). To have to give six months’ notice to gain back a property in these circumstances is not reasonable. And if the tenant doesn’t leave, I only have a long wait for court and bailiffs to look forward to. I can’t even begin to think what damage may be caused by such a delay.

And what I’ve realised is: the constant worry is draining me.

The worry about will a tenant pay the rent, will a tenant look after the house, will the tenant let the gas man in, will the tenant not fight with the neighbours and on and on and on.

And I just don’t think I can do this anymore. There are so many things, more worthwhile things, to worry about.

That’s why I have got to give myself some breathing space. And that is why I am selling.