Yesterday we sold our house.
Let me begin from the beginning. In September 2011 we finally paid off our mortgage (when I say ‘we’, I mean my dad). By March 2012 our house was on the market. My family had lived there twenty years.
Last August we moved. It was quite an uprootal, I’ll admit, but the change of scenery brought my general mood out of the shade, so I’m grateful for that.
Anyway, for the past seventeen months we’ve been trying to sell our house in a floundering market. No movement anywhere. Plenty of viewings, but nothing consequential. An exceptionally bad time to be an estate agent, round here. Value may have dropped twenty percent in the past year, but no one has even the eighty percent which our house should’ve been worth. Calamity all round, basically.
In order to hold two properties at the same time we used a bridging loan. High interest. High stakes if we couldn’t sell at a reasonable price. Due to monetary concerns we dithered too long on the house we really wanted, so when that was nabbed from under our noses we had to seize choice two.
And then the market deteriorated and there’s been virtually no movement for months.
How on earth did we sell our house, then, in such a situation? That, my friend, is down to a prayer.
Last week we got an offer. Which is amazing. But it was £60,000 down on what our house had been valued at (I make it clear that houses cost about three times more where I live than they do in most parts of the UK), and it wouldn’t even pay off the loan we took out (never mind the mortgage!).
The next morning the people who’d put in the offer lowered it by another £15,000. The bank had withdrawn its original loan, due to the awfulness of the market. But we thought we might have to take it if we ever wanted to sell the house.
We wanted the family to have it… A young couple with a small boy and another one on the way. Loved our house seven months ago and haven’t had another viewing since. And the boy liked the mirrors. Under the lowest bookshelf in the old playroom. My brother used to line up his matchbox cars and look at them in the mirror.
Then my mother found a ‘Novena to St Joseph for Selling One’s House’. A Novena is a nine-day prayer course, in which you follow a given prayer format, pray a few Our Fathers and Hail Maries and Glory Bes, and leave it to God. St Joseph is the saint to which our church is dedicated, and a Novena for selling a house addressed to St Joseph seemed just exactly what we needed.
For the past six days my mother, brother and I have been performing the Novena. It only takes five minutes or so–seems almost too easy, and my mum doesn’t like it because she thinks it’s like making a bargain with God–but my! what it’s done for us!
Yesterday morning during the part which in the programme says ‘insert exact request here’, my mother said something like, “I pray we sell our house for a comfortable amount of money that doesn’t mean we have to dig into our own pockets to pay off our loan. If you could change the bank’s mind, and get a bit more money from somewhere. Not for money’s sake, but where we plan to put it. I don’t know how feasible that is…”
A direct prayer directly answered. She thought she sounded greedy the first time, asking for more money, but I told her we weren’t the ones to judge whether we were greedy or not. Evidently, says God, we never meant our plea out of greed.
Two hours later we got a call to say the buyer’s bank had upped its offer again, and my dad had accepted.
And now we can convert the garage into another bedroom, so when my cousins come to stay they’ll have a room each to call their own. And charity. My dad’s a staunch atheist, but he’s more generous than any of us when it comes to charity.
Of course, it may fall through before long; but after so much trouble, it can’t be a mere coincidence. If God didn’t lever that offer to the satisfaction of all, I’ll eat my birthday presents (not merely the edible ones).
All this means I have to share my birthday celebration with a house sale. But on the plus side, I don’t have to pay for this darn meal now we have money again!