Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Big news about moving forward

There are times when things happen that we want to talk about, but for any number of reasons, we just can’t. I’ve just been through one of those times, and there’s a story there, but the headline version is this: I’ve officially bought a house in Hamilton.

A while back I talked about finding a section to build a house, but that wasn’t to be. The problem was that the developer’s covenants—which are legally binding rules—were far, far too restrictive. Developers’ covenants for new housing developments normally deal with the look and feel of the development, including minimum size of houses, how long construction may take, those kinds of things. But that developer went far beyond that to dictate behaviour of homeowners (among other restrictions, they dictated how many pets people could have, banned all campers, etc., and any of that could mean that any future neighbour who simply didn’t like me could have made my life difficult by enforcing the covenants, which are legally binding on all owners).

Because of those covenants, that whole thing fell apart a couple weeks ago, and while I’ve become very matter-of-fact about all this sort of stuff, it was nevertheless disappointing. That and other things going on left me felt feeling quite down, so I decided to go to Hamilton to be around family.

I arrived on Saturday (November 30), and my brother-in-law suggested we go look at some areas of Hamilton that I hadn’t considered very much. We set off, with my brother-in-law being tour guide, and we ended up going to a new development. It was nice, with all the houses either new or under construction. After we drove around a bit, we decided to move on.

As we were leaving the development, we noticed a real estate agent putting up a sign for an open home, and, even though we hadn’t planned on going to any open homes that day, we decided we may as well go have a look, anyway, since we were there. As we went back around the roundabout to head back into the development so we could go find the house, I thought to myself, “This is just the way this sort of thing would work out for me: I’m in a relatively random area of the city, by pure chance we see a real state agent putting up a sign, I go, look at it, like it, and buy it. Just like that.” And that’s what happened. Also, the agent that day was just filling in for the listing agent, so that coincidence of conditions was even more extensive.

The process for buying a house in New Zealand is fairly straightforward: A buyer makes an offer, which usually has at least a few conditions, that is, things that the buyer wants to specify to happen, such as, time to organise financing, getting official information from the local council (like the city government), that sort of thing. The vendor (seller) can accept or offer counter proposals, including on price. Once agreement is reached, the clock starts ticking.

Ordinarily, the countdown begins as soon as the vendor signs the agreement, or sometimes the next business day. The buyer’s solicitor (lawyer) usually has up to fifteen working days (excluding weekends) to complete everything. Once the conditions are all met, the offer is said to go unconditional. In my case, that happened today, some five working days after the contract went to my solicitor for review (shortening the time was the only thing the vendor changed in the contract).

At the end of the process is settlement, which is somewhat similar to closing in the USA. A few days before the settlement date, the buyer and seller go to their own solicitor’s office to sign the relevant paperwork, and that’s that until settlement day. On that day the buyer’s solicitor transfers to the vendor’s solicitor the funds to complete the purchase, and title to the property is transferred to the buyer. The buyer then picks up the keys, usually from the realtor, and that’s that.

In my case, settlement is on January 24, which, as it happens, will also be the eleventh anniversary of when Nigel and I had our civil union ceremony (back in those pre-marriage equality days). I, of course, knew that, but didn’t mention it until just now, in part because I’d hoped to move up the date. However, I now think that date is fine, and actually appropriate because it’s a sort of symbolic bridge for me. That means I’m likely to move in Saturday, January 25.

Obviously, I liked the house—in fact, I liked it when I saw it from the street. It’s brand new and will meet my needs now and also over the coming years as I get older. It also has a really good feel.

I honestly don’t know whether Nigel and I would have chosen it together, since it’s a three bedroom and we’d have looked for a four bedroom so we could each have an office (one of the things I learned in our life together was the importance of us each having our own space). However, after two and half decades together, I definitely do know that Nigel would have liked the house and he’d have liked it for me. It feels good to know that, but there was one more coincidence with the property: One of the investors in the overall development is Tainui Holdings, the investment arm of Tainui, the iwi (tribe) in the Waikato (the area Hamilton is in). That matters to me because Tainui was Nigel’s iwi. So, it’s like giving money back to his iwi, and it also feels like I belong there even before I move in.

All of this has arranged itself fairly effortlessly, which is one of the things people (especially my sister-in-law) said to me: When the house was right, it would be easy (or, maybe just not as difficult). She was right.

I’m keenly aware that some will see in all this the possibility that Nigel was helping/guiding me. Maybe so, maybe not. While I don’t believe in anything magical, nor am I in any way spiritual, the core point of being a sceptic is that anything is possible, and all it takes to work out what’s true and real is evidence. So, I certainly have an open mind.

What I do know for certain is this: I need to move to Hamilton in order to begin whatever my new life will become, and while moving there was always the plan for Nigel and me, none of this would be happening right now, or in this way, if Nigel hadn’t died. I also know that Nigel repeated many times in his final days that he wanted to make sure I’d be okay, and I will be. I know that he’d have liked the house I’ve chosen, and he’d have been very happy for me to live there. Is there anything supernatural beyond all that? I have no idea, but what I do know is more than enough for me.

I also know one more thing: I’d never have gotten to this point if it wasn’t for the love, support, and help of the family. That, too, would have made Nigel very happy.

When I got back to Auckland after I made the offer to buy that house, I told my -in-law, “For the first time in 10 1/2 weeks, I feel kinda happy. Well, happy-ish, maybe, but I’ll take it.” That’s still true.

There are times when things happen that we want to talk about, but we just can’t. In this case, I couldn’t talk about it because things had changed so many times already, and I wanted to be certain this was actually happening. Now, it’s certain: I’ve officially bought a house in Hamilton, and that makes me happiy-ish. Only 11 1/2 weeks after Nigel died, that’s a really good space for me to be in. The new place will be, too.

1 comment:

rogerogreen said...

This is, as an Albany, NY car dealer is wont to say, HUGE!