For your sake, I hope you are sitting cosily in your own home, surrounded by your loved ones.
Told you (or perhaps not in so many words, but the readers-between-the-lines knew) that I am searching for a new home for my two YA kids and myself, didn't I? And for my macho cat Viggo, of course!
Let me tell you, this is bloody hard work!
Now, I am on a tight budget (say...as tight as the seal on a new bottle of Glenfiddich, which - by the way - I will not be able to afford in the coming 30 years), so 90% of all 3 bedroom houses on the market around my hometown are simply way too expensive for me.
That 10% that is left I peruse on the Internet. Housebrokers thoughtfully provide descriptions and (!!!) photos. Oh...those photos. They show sunny spacious rooms with pristine paintwork, which (when you view them in real life) turn out to be poky smelly ones with watermarks in the corners. How do they do this? Photoshop?
But I'm wising up fast. Do benefit from my newly found wisdom:
When the description says there are 3 bedrooms, but the photos show only 1, this means that the other two are not large enough to swing a cat in (so sorry, Viggo), can barely hold a single bed in other words, let alone a desk and/or chest of drawers.
When the description says that the house needs a little work, this means that the walls need plastering, the gutters have grass and trees growing in them, the bathroom is mouldy, the outside paint is non-existant, the woodwork is rotten in places and the kitchen cabinets are sagging. (Oh, do see #3 by all means)
When the description says the property has a basic kitchen, this means that the cabinets are sagging and the appliances ("kitchen appliances included!" - oh, goody) are at least 10 years old and yellowing. Or with wires hanging out and essential bits missing (saw this one today).
When the descriptions says the garden needs a little tlc, this means there are Triffid-like weeds trying to take over the street, or (saw this one today - ) the neighbouring garden is used as the local garbage dump, or there is crazy paving everywhere with a suspicion of buried corpses underneath.
When the description says there is room for home improvement - run a mile. Unless you are a masochist OR you have an unscratchable itch to live in a tip for months on end.
Ah, I can hear you say "Oh...come on...is it really that bad?". Yes, it is. Right now I doubt I will ever find a reasonably priced, reasonably maintained property.
But I could be wrong.
So I will call it a day for today, but tomorrow I will visit all those house-agent's websites again.