Eastbourne Life with Graham Walker: Time for Plan B

Plan A is in the bin. No, not the Government’s austerity programme. Our house purchase to complete our family move to Eastbourne has collapsed. A local estate agent rang my wife at the end of last week and spoke the terrible sentence “I am afraid that your vendors no longer wish to sell their house”. This left my wife speechless - not as rare an event as the jokers amongst you might suggest - for a good ten minutes or so.

When she had collected her thoughts and told me the bad news my immediate reaction was to feel angry but this soon subsided to be replaced by a dull sadness. The lovely house that had convinced us to move our family to Eastbourne was gone. We were not moving into our dream house in a few weeks time. Our boys would not be moving into the exciting new bedrooms they had picked at our last viewing. We would be staying in a holiday flat for the foreseeable future. I would need to keep spoiling the boys to overcome my guilt from moving them here to start new schools before we had a house to live in. Add swearword of your choice here!

Buying and selling a family house is an emotional roller coaster. Given that trust between buyers and sellers in a long chain is hard won and easily lost, I have given up the lead on all discussions with estate agents, particularly on negotiating sale prices and moving dates to my wife. She is clever, calm and appreciates how every one in the property chain feels. Whereas I am competitive, emotional and as my wife might put it “occasionally unaware of my impact on others”. This makes me a negotiating liability and I am sure my wife is much relieved that she is now our public face for all property matters, even if she still has to listen to my ranting and raving in private.

The recession was probably the main reason our purchase collapsed. A few days before we were due to exchange contracts on the sale of our London house in November, a bank removed their previous offer of a mortgage to our buyers. My wife and I thought hard about carrying on with our purchase without selling our London house but job insecurity made that too risky an option. We didn’t lose faith in our buyers and a month on they have found another - albeit more expensive - mortgage with their own bank. But the delay caused by our buyers and our inability to proceed without selling first has caused our vendors to think again and decide not to sell their house after all. Upsetting for us, but if you are my wife, completely understandable from their perspective.

So the recession has caused us some bad news and a little family stress. We are lucky! We are all healthy, my wife and I have good jobs and we have a comfortable flat to live in. Many families are struggling with ill health, unemployment and/or poor housing conditions along with deep cuts to public services. The recession is hitting all of us but those of us in work and good health should spare a thought for those that it will hit the hardest: the old, the disabled and the out of work. Losing a house is not that big a deal in the great scheme of things.

My wife and I did what we always do when we get bad news: come up with another plan quickly. Goodbye and good riddance to Plan A. Hello Plan B! Given what a difficult Christmas this will be for millions of people, I wish it were as easy for the Government to change tack when things go horribly wrong.

Follow Graham Walker on twitter on @EastbourneLife