Friday 22 January 2010


Mum's apartment has finally... finally sold.

I haven't wanted to jinx the process by posting about it before, but we found a buyer in October and it has taken this long to process, despite it being a cash purchase.

The buyer was a woman looking to relocate closer to her Son. I can see the wisdom in that, having myself undergone so much stress coping with Mum's deterioration over a distance of 250 miles.

The apartment cost Mum £195,000 back in 2002 and would doubtlessly have fetched well over £200,000 if I'd put it up for sale in 2007. While I concentrated on getting Mum settled, and fretted over my responsibility for the dismantling of her life, the market slumped. When I put the place on the market in last June, the agent suggested that I ask for just £175,000. I held out for £185,000 and we achieved a figure halfway between the two. After Estate Agent and Solicitor fees and a last-minute nasty surprise, I'm left with £172,000.

Not having a copy of the Lease, I was pretty disgusted to find out that we would lose a further 2% of the proceeds as fees to the Managing Agents for the property. These jokers really gouge the residents and provide a minimum of service in return and these 'transfer' and 'contingency' fees are outrageous. I'm tempted to remind them that their representative at this block is currently in court, accused of a massive theft from a couple of residents. I've been grateful that there was no publicity about this whilst I was trying to sell Mum's flat, but I've a lot less to lose by going to the papers now. I wonder if they might let these charges go?

Up until this week, I had been intending to use the proceeds of the sale to buy another property and then rent that out to cover the shortfall in Mum's Care Home fees. Specifically, I had decided to purchase the house I am living in, enabling me to be free to relocate whilst also keeping the asset in our family (this house is set to appreciate in value due to a nearby development). I was getting quite giddy exploring my options. However, I've taken advice from a Financial Advisor and concluded that the best place for Mum's money is an Insurance Bond (a "with-profits bond with income"). If I invest the full amount, we will be able to take up to 5% interest out each year as income. What's more, the money will be tax-free and not counted towards any future Revenue means-testing. At the moment, 4% just about covers the shortfall.

So, that's the end of that. Even though it was not our family home, it feels odd to let the place go, and I still feel a vestige of guilt whenever I act on Mum's behalf in financial dealings. It's a similar feeling to when I'm in an airport and walking through the "nothing to declare" Customs channel. Although I've never had anything to hide, I still always feel guilty and end up forgetting how to walk casually, and I probably look shifty as hell whilst attempting to broadcast my innocence. I found myself doing a similar thing with the Financial Advisor.


Gavin said...

This is a big step, indeed. Congratulations, and the minor dip in price will be well worth the fact that you sold it.

I've confronted similar feelings here. Do I sell this house? I feel guilty thinking about it. The fact that my father did a lot of expansion/remodel when he was alive makes selling it feel like a betrayal.

I was happy to read about going through customs. I thought I was the only one. In the same vein, I get weird leaving stores with electronic security panels...even though I'm not stealing, I still feel guilty and that I'm going to set them off.

Not sure when you updated your pic, but I like it! :)

Greg said...

Ha Ha... yes, I do that, too. Do you hold your breath as you go through, like I do?

It sounds like you have good reason to find it hard to give up your Mom's home - there's more of your family's history invested there. I guess the questions you need to ask yourself are: (1) is your Mom ever likely to have the opportunity to return there?, and (2) is this the house you want to live in for ever?

Thanks about the pic - hiding as much of my self under cloth is obviously the way to go - for next one I'll wear a burqa :D

citygirl said...

Yes, congratulations on getting through this big step. I know selling my mom's house (it was our family home) was a huge deal for me. I felt horribly guilty and sick over the whole thing just because of how hard my dad worked on it and how my mom lived there for almost 40 years. But in the end, it's a necessary evil so you have money to take care of your mom's needs now. I believe my mom's house also went for below market but we took the best we could get for it because we had to pay for her care. The whole fiasco caused quite the problems with my siblings, still remains a bitter topic and actually caused them to cease being in touch.

Very smart that you went to an advisor.

I also feel quite odd going through customs and those alarm panels at stores. I'd never make it as a thief!

p.s. I agree - nice pic!

Sorata said...

Congratulations, Greg!

I have been a bit busy with work lately and finally have some breathing time to sit down and catchup on your blog.

I am glad that the place is sold and that you will feel less stressed about the financial situation eventually. Are you thinking of relocating? Any new thoughts on that?

Greg said...

Hi Sorata

I'm ALWAYS thinking of relocating - often to Vancouver, as it happens :) I think I'd like to do some travelling around the world before settling anywhere - I don't want to get bogged down again at the first place I go.

You're right that the sale of Mum's place brings me a little closer to being able to go - now the biggest obstacle remaining is the condition of my own home - I've got to turn my attention to getting it ready either for sale or rental. I expect I'll get there by the autumn, by which time a nearby development might mean it's more attractive to purchasers/renters.

I look forward to reading your news on your blog, if you can tear yourself away from Final Fantasy XIII (busy with work indeed!) ;)