Last Friday morning I expected ( after weeks of hold-ups due to the sellers solicitors) to finally exchange on a small terraced house in Kensington.
The deposit was in my solicitors account.
My partner in Hong Kong had given his go-ahead.
The contracts from both the leaseholder and freeholder (for this is a complicated transaction) were ready.
All my solicitor had to do was complete the papers and despatch the monies. Or so I thought.
Then the phone rings in the car (I'm out buying bathroom stuff for our other property). It's my buying agent. And no she's not ringing to congratulate me.
There's a problem.
A roughly £8000 problem.
Apparently, I am expected to pay the freeholder's legal and surveyor's costs.
This is news to me and to my solicitor.
It's not mentioned in any papers from any party to this transaction.
So, not surprisingly, my solicitor and I bat back the issue and say - this isn't our problem.
Oh but it is!
It's now Tuesday and the issue still hasn't been resolved.
We don't even know how to resolve it. It's a sort of Catch-22 situation.
Solicitors for the other parties don't answer emails. Estate agents try to cover their arses (they should have mentioned this months ago, but didn't). And nobody tells us actually how to sort the problem.
We discover eventually that £5000 is the fee for a surveyor to value the freehold on our behalf. But we didn't commission the survey and have never seen it (even though we requested a copy months ago).
Nobody even seems to know who was billed for the surveyors fee! So how can we pay it?
It is, in the immortal words of somebody, a 'buggers muddle'.
And one that was completely and utterly avoidable.
These so-called professionals aren't remotely professional. We still, for example, don't know actually how much money were talking about. The agent bandies around some rough figures (with or without VAT, I don't know). But there are no actual numbers, no actual papers, no actual requests in writing for the money.
It's f....g unbelievable.
How these people ever qualified as solicitors I don't know.
The people I feel most sorry for are the beneficiaries of the sale (it's a probate situation). Through no fault of their own, they have inherited a shocking bunch of lawyers and agents.
If they ever see any money during their own lifetimes, I'll be surprised.
In the meantime, I'll wait to see what today brings. But to be honest, I don't deal well with stress or incompetence on this level. And if it goes beyond today, I am committed to pulling out even though it's a great little house at what is probably a good price.
I just don't need the hassle.
Tomorrow I'm off on holiday for two weeks. I'll either be celebrating the purchase. Or recovering from walking away.