Tuesday 3 May 2011


Now, this is a longish story but I'll tell it all the same.

Two years ago, and just around the time that we decided we'd work towards spending time on the UK canals, we saw a lovely old building for sale in a nearby town.  It had wonderful potential, lots of space with a stone barn as well as the large original building, plus a huge garden/yard.  It was being leased by a woman running a business and the lease had 7 years left to run on it. 

We rang the agent and went to have a look.  What ensued was much discussion and calculation.  The rent would very nearly cover the mortgage repayments, and we could comfortably afford the balance.  Seven years was time enough to fulfill our narrowboat dream (or so we figured at the time) as well as being a time frame that I felt I'd be ready to move on from my job.  At the end of that time we could come back and run a business from the building, plus Mick would have somewhere to build and restore furniture and the barn as an outlet to sell his furniture and possibly antiques as well.  The building itself could be brought back to its former glory.  It really could be something special.

The bank manager said we could borrow the money.  We made an offer on a Friday afternoon and it was accepted! It was too late in the day to get a contract typed up so we just paid the deposit and on Monday we went to the real estate agent's office to sign up.  The agent mentioned that the vendor had requested an additional clause in the contract at their solicitor's recommendation.  Although the building had been on the market for a couple of months, and the vendor had already offered the building to the lessee, the lease agreement said the lessee was to be given notice "in writing" that the building was to be sold and giving her first option to buy it.  She had told the vendor, and the real estate agent, that she was in no financial position to buy the building.  But.. they hadn't given her this notice in writing, only verbally.  So we were to wait seven days before it could officially be ours.

On the last of the seven days the lessee piped up saying she was buying it!  We were devastated!!  Here we were thinking we'd found a great future plan.  A way for me to get out of working in Melbourne and a way for Mick to get out of the building industry and working out in the weather.  Now it was snatched away.  We were extremely upset about it for a long time.  We were out of pocket with solicitors fees.  We weren't happy.

Last year we saw it for sale again, barely a year later.  The lady was selling the building and the business together at double the price we'd been about to pay for the building.  The business was all but worthless as she'd run it down to nothing.  We'd heard on the "grapevine" that the locals had been disappointed that she bought the building because they'd hoped someone new would give the business new life.  We watched with interest but forged ahead with our narrowboat plans.  There was an auction a few months ago and there were no bidders.  The starting price (put out by the vendor) was already way too high.  Mick had spoken to the new real estate agent and mentioned that we'd been about to buy the building the year before.

So here we are two years after this all began.  It seems the lady who runs the business really wasn't in a financial position to buy the building and now she's in trouble.  Yesterday we had a phone call from the real estate agent offering the whole lot to us at just $50,000 more than what we'd been about to pay for the building.  Now, as I said the business would be worth nothing, but our real estate market has been strong the last couple of years and this price really is a bargain!  How tempting!

We wavered last night.  Maybe we should consider it.  Do we really want to defer our narrowboat plan?  We'd be looking at a good five years of building up the business to where it should be.  There would be a huge renovation project.  We'd have to hurry and freshen up the new house we've bought up the street (so we can sell it on again) and we couldn't do that until after settlement at the end of June.  We'd be under a bit of pressure to sell our house.  And then.... in a few years time... we'd have to lease out the business again in order to pursue our narrowboat dream. 

No.  We won't do it.


Paul and El said...

Good decision, I think if you keep putting it off for whatever reason, it will stay as a dream.

Elly and Mick said...

That was exactly our thinking. We can't get side tracked! Elly