Alice-Azania Jarvis: Buying a flat can be like going on a blind date

In The Red
  • @aliceazania

Last week, I mentioned change. And the fact that there's an awful lot of it in my life these days. New year, new diary, new page of the calendar and all that. I'd just accepted an offer on my flat, and had made an offer on another one. This change, it should be said, looks perilously close to collapse; the buyer that Foxtons found for me is poised to pull out, having been unable to get a mortgage for himself. It's frustrating given the legal fees I've already racked up – and the way in which my heart has found itself set on the other property, which is now almost certain to be out of reach despite being, quite literally, the Flat Of My Dreams.

If nothing else, it will have been a valuable lesson in the vagaries of the housing market: the forms, the paperwork, the brokers, agents and lawyers. The way in which you can, like a blind date waiting alone at the restaurant table, be left in the lurch by a total stranger. And I might take it as a cue to implement more change: invest in a set of chairs for the unused table in my sitting room (radical!). Learn how to change a spotlight. Clear out a few overstocked cupboards and cluttered shelves. I'd get a pet, only there's no outdoor space and I don't really want a dependent. I'd move in my boyfriend, but he'd pose the same problem.

At any rate, there's another big change happening in my life. I am soon to leave The Independent. After four and a half years, it seems a good time to shake things up a bit. We all need to do that sometimes, don't we? I don't want to stay in one place so long I cease to appreciate how wonderful it is. Which this place – this paper – most definitely is (as for the column's contribution to that, only you can be the judge).

It also means that, for the first time in four years, I won't be popping up at the back of your paper on Saturday morning. Next week will be my final appearance, and I intend to use it to share what meagre lessons I have learned in my time here. Has In The Red given me a better brain for finance? Am I now more likely to save than to spend? The jury's out. But, if you're interested, do tune in. And if you have any questions, fire away. Just don't ask me about selling your flat. Because on that front, I am singularly clueless.