The only way that I can portray the stress and drama of today is through a series of still images from Working Girl, that classic ’80s film about negotiations and wheeler-dealers. My part will be played by Melanie Griffith, with Harrison Ford playing John, our lawyer, Sigourney Weaver playing Tristan (sorry, darling – it’s just how the photos worked out), and some random other character playing Mary, the real estate agent.
You’ll recall from yesterday’s post that we’d found out about a title-related problem with the house. I woke up this morning determined to get things sorted out. This was me at 8.30 am:
My confidence was as big as my hair. I knew that the vendor would see sense, just like I know that there is no such thing as too much hairspray when it comes to an office-friendly barnet.
But then I got a worrying call from Mary:
The vendor didn’t want to resolve the issue himself, and he was only willing to take off half the cost of fixing the title from the purchase price. I started to fear that we wouldn’t be able to proceed. I lit an imaginary cigarette while I called Tristan to discuss things, and then I consulted with John:
We discussed our options and agreed that this was a test of nerves and that we shouldn’t give in. So the morning continued and I waited, wearing my awesome glasses, quietly confident that we’d prevail:
Mary urged us to reconsider and just accept that we’d have to contribute to the cost of fixing the title:
And I wondered whether she might be right:
But Tristan was steely in his determination that this problem was not ours and should be completely sorted out before we proceeded. Check out his steely face:
Mary kept calling me and trying to convince me that we couldn’t get a better deal. I got quite fed up with it and ended up letting her know exactly how much we resented being at risk of losing this property because of the incompetence of other people. I was sporting my most serious hairstyle and facial expression during this conversation:
And then I figured out a new negotiating strategy: offer the vendor two options, both of which he would consider unpalatable and either of which would enable us to proceed. His choices would be either to make good title, or to reduce the agreed sale price by the full cost of us fixing the title ourselves.
John was a bit sceptical, I think:
And Tristan wanted to be sure that I was willing to deal with any hassles associated with taking care of the title ourselves (and that the price would be reduced enough to fully cover the costs):
But I felt like it was the only way forward. So John played hardball with Mary and made it clear that both options needed to be put to the vendor, as per our instruction to him:
And so we waited. Mary kept calling me, and even tried to suggest that John was acting independently of us. However, I assured her that everything he’d presented was the result of instructions we’d given him and that we were united in the negotiation:
I’ll admit, I was anxious:
But the call came at last: after advice from his lawyer, the vendor had agreed to reduce the price by the full amount required to cover the cost of fixing the title. Hurrah! I rang Tristan at work to tell him – he was delighted:
And I’m so happy that I’ve got half a mind to put on my sexiest lingerie and really whoop it up:
I’m sure that John will have a couple of drinks tonight, to round off a busy day of lawyering.
Mary has since dropped off a congratulatory bottle of wine and orchid, which I’m bound to kill before we move to the new house in November.
ONE FINAL THING: As the negotiation was completed we could all hear Carly Simon’s dulcet tones as she sang this superb, uplifting victory song.