The very first time I ever played Baldur’s Gate, I stumbled upon Taerom Fuirim’s Thunderhammer Smithy in Beregost. In his stock, my eyes found a most glorious sight: Full Plate Mail, the most protective armour available in the game. (Actually, I think there’s Full Plate +1 somewhere, but I was only young and somewhat lacking in those completist tendencies that define me now.)
The problem was that it cost 9000 gold. 9000 gold, in a world where I’d barely spent 100 on all my starting gear. 9000 gold was unthinkable. I spent half of the game scrimping and saving, scraping together all that gold so I could outfit Robe the Fighter like a god damn king.
Eventually, I made it, and I gleefully bought that armour.
The Future Was Not Supposed To Be Like This
Not very long after that, I attacked the bandit camp and mini-boss Taugosz Kosann dropped another suit. Oh well, Ajantis got be super-cool too.
(To be fair, Taugosz stopped me in my tracks for a while, so I did have to work hard for that second suit. Just not selling-loot-for-half-the-game hard.)
I never thought there’d be a similar situation in real life, but what is dungeon delving and selling the proceeds if not a full-time job? The travelling adventurer pays little for accommodation and nothing for food (apparently), so a professional raider of instances is not dissimilar to how I’ve spent my last few years living at home while hoarding all the profit from a fledgling career as a software engineer.
So yes, I’ve finally managed to save up the real-world equivalent of that 9000 gold (inflation has been absolute murder since the mid-90s), and splurged it on the real-world equivalent of Full Plate Mail: a flat.
It is unlikely that I will soon murder some villain and steal their flat to end up with a second home, so we’ll have to abandon that inappropriate gaming metaphor now.
Buying property is weird. You spend months and months searching, discounting anything with wet rot in the bathroom (believe me, in Edinbvrgh that is 90% of all modern flats), trying to find something with gas central heating (that discounts the 10%), and all of that for a price you can actually afford. You despair, you find nothing at all…
And then within a week, you’ve made an offer and got your verbal acceptance. Whoosh.
You’ve got to be fast, though. It’s easy for buy-to-rent people to sneak in, snapping things up without even viewing them because they don’t care. Well, why would they care? They’re not going to live in it. It’s easier for them to get mortgages too, because they’ve already got portfolios to back it up. Not poor little first-time-buyer Rao Dao Zao, no sirree.
Luckily this flat went on the market at a holiday weekend. It ticked all the boxes so I went back for an immediate second viewing to confirm the kill. Nobody else seemed to have noticed in the mean time, so I took the shot.
Once you’ve decided you want to make an offer, though, there’s so much annoying posturing involved in actually getting the home. Everybody wants you to offer low and haggle up, even though you know damn fine the seller will only accept — and you expect to pay — the home report value. It cost me a whole day of stress when I could just have offered the full whack in the first instance and had it all over by lunchtime.
I suppose it didn’t help that I have no idea about the legals around this stuff and accepted everything the lawyers recommended, with vaguely contradictory advice flying in from my dad, my lawyer brother, and my actual solicitor. I like shops where you go in and pick up an object and it has a defined price and you hand over the money and it’s all clean and tidy. But no, that’s no good, you’ve got to play the game.
Any time somebody tells me that I’ve got to “play the game”, I’m always reminded of the paragon line in Mass Effect when you’re talking to the drug-addicted negotiator outside Flux. “Everyone does it, ” he wails, “it’s all part of the game.” To which Shepard replies: “Then the game is wrong.” Too right, Shepface. Why do you think I spend all my time hiding from reality?
Of course a verbal acceptance is not the end. You’ve then got to negotiate the qualified acceptance, the lawyers quibbling over strange things like “you must accept by this date” and then replying after that time saying “we accept with this condition removed”. Phone calls quickly resolve issues at a conceptual level, but the physical letters have to go back and forward (possibly by fax machine, this is the modern era after all) to make it real.
Somewhere from the primordial soup of telegraphy, some kind of sealed agreement eventually emerges. The bargain is concluded.
Yes, there’s still no actual purchase at this stage (that comes at the entry date), just a legal contract saying you have to buy and they have to sell to you.
I told you it was crazy; the flat’s off the market and I want it, I’m not going to back out now. I guess some people do, but somebody could still string you along this far and back out without signing just to piss you off. Not that I would, but there’s probably a tax dodge in there somewhere.
Ohm Sweet Ohm
So here I stand with everything in place but still awaiting the actual transference of the wonga. Legally, though, it can’t not happen anymore, so timescales aside, I am now a home owner.