I recently returned from a short visit to London for some house-hunting and Hubby-visiting.
Hear that British Embassy? I said VI-SIT, as in I returned to my home country and I did NOT stay illegally. In fact, I am patiently awaiting our dependent visas and would very much like them quite soon please (batting eyelashes)…
So yes, we signed for an adorable three-story town home in west London. It’s in a family-friendly, “greener” (read: suburban) part of the city with easy access to plenty of parks, cafes, and shopping. It’s about a third of the size of our home in Dallas (and double our mortgage), but that was expected…
Gorgeous kitchen, spacious bedrooms, and fully furnished, it truly is an incredible find, but I can hardly take all of the credit for finding it. Mike had spent every available moment since arriving in the UK visiting towns and contacting agents, which is A LOT of work.
In the US, we’re a bit… how you say… SPOILED when it comes to real estate. In fact, to find our house in Dallas, I simply logged on to ZipRealty.com to access to every house presently on the market- photos included. I could search by price, square footage, pool/no pool, hardwood, tile… the options seemed endless.
Once I found something “good on paper”, I could then look at the area school data, local education level, crime stats, and find the nearest pizza place… all in one place.
I would blissfully search for hours, never having to leave the comfort of my office where no one ever suspected I was pouring over real estate listing instead of spreadsheets. (Shh!)
Looking for a place to live in London, however… not so easy.
They are a few websites, but you can only limit your search by zip code, which is great if you know where the heck everything is… and we didn’t.
We also found that most of them are rather outdated, with agents remarking about our inquiries with, “Oh, Wow! Is THAT still listed? That was taken off the market months ago?”
Then, we discovered that lettings (rentals) for each part of town are actually handled by a single agency or two, and they probably don’t have any information on what is being let on the other part of the same town. It’s basically like having one real estate agent for each unique subdivision in your city.
So, just imagine having to go to each of them one by one to find a house and that they all close their offices at around four in the afternoon…
After one particularly exhaustive day of this, Mike just started stopping families on the street to ask where they lived and how they liked it. For those of you that do not personally know my husband, this is totally something that only Mike, as likable and nice as he is, would be able to pull off and not come off as sketchy… and it worked.
He found a wonderful part of town and the great agent. I merely swooped in to negotiate the deal. We make a pretty great team, if I do say so myself.