Friday, October 21, 2016

Minus the Contempt


I  really couldn’t blame them, the housing market is booming in Amsterdam. They put the apartment up for sale, people went crazy for it, bid after bid, they upped the price 20% and launched it on the market for the second time.

“You know how it works now, don’t you?” a player in the field asked me, as if after two years I wasn’t clued in.

Normally you need to bid 20% above the asking price, sort of sneaky on the sly and act as if you’ve gotten away with something. The couple had merely short circuited the whole affair, jacked the price up, and said, “This is it. You pay it, you got it.”

No, really I couldn’t blame them. I stood on the parquet floor. It looked nice. “We really don’t need to sell.” They said, “We get a great rental price, what with our mortgage.”

“I really am in no rush to buy,” I said.  “I won’t come under my rent when I buy, with all the costs added up.”

We stood on the parquet floor.  It looked very nice.  The building was solid and built in 1912, with a grand entrance.  No doubt about it, I liked it. Two good radiators I noted, the old fashioned kind.

As I had been wandering around the Ex Pat Fair early this month, I stopped asked about a mortgage at one of the stands manned by a bank. The young man looked at me with contempt.  “When you’ve gotten so far,” he sneered, “we can make an appointment.”

I looked at the couple selling the apartment.  If it had been a better price, I would have bought it. The bathroom would need to be redone within five years and so would have the kitchen but I really didn’t blame them for really being, well, honest and then not honest.  I mean I could read the euro signs in their eyes, but not the contempt of the mortgage man.

What I would like most is to have a non-slimy conversation with someone about a mortgage, I mean I don’t expect to be friends, but just a decent conversation with the object of buying 35 square meters. It seems the whole affair is one louche, grubby exercise to get away with something as if a roof over one’s head is a type of extramarital affair.

I wondered about the matter for a few days after visiting the apartment. Who do I know, I mused, who owns property in the center of Amsterdam and needs to take a loss on an investment for the benefit of their tax return?

“What happens if you win?” A friend asked me, as I relayed my doubts.

I had no idea, I had never bought a lottery ticket before in my life. But I was thinking about buying the postcode lottery.

“I paid in every week, fifteen smackers, sometimes I won thirty, hundred.” Playing the numbers.  I didn’t feel like paying out for my lucky numbers on a weekly basis.

“If my husband hears me coming through the front door making a lot of noise, he always gets suspicious.” She explained, “He calls out, what have you picked up now? Emphasis on now, of course.” That would be on the nights before the weekly garbage pick-up.

“Have you heard about TofVuil?” A different friend asked, “It’s when you spot a great item on the street, take it home, give it a brush over and show the before and after shots on FB.”  Yeah well, that one is a no brainer. The question is: where to put it?




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