© Merrily Harpur (harpur.org)
It's a cold, crisp and clear winter's morning with a sprinkling of snow on the ground, the type of day that makes England so beautiful. As it turns out, it's a day that I will remember vividly for reasons that will unfold as the week goes on. It is also an event which I will not be able to recount in full to anyone for a long time.
I am selling a delightful farmhouse in a private setting. I meet the prospective buyer outside the property at 10am. He emphasises, not for the first time, that his top priority is security and privacy, and I know this farmhouse in a remote setting will be ideal for him.
The morning is spent with our farm specialist from London, advising a client how best to sell his farm and livestock. We decide to "lot" the property; we will offer the farmhouse, swimming pool and tennis court with three acres as Lot 1, and outbuildings and five acres as Lot 2. The remaining land of 48 acres will be Lot 3. We decide to co-ordinate the marketing campaign around a double-page spread in Country Life. My colleague from London already knows several buyers who would be interested and organises two viewings on the phone driving back to the office.
In the afternoon I arrange several more viewings on the farmhouse , then agree a sale over the guide price on a property that came to the market last week. It's a good day.
I advise a client on the current state of the market and suggest a sensible guide price. They have had four other agents round and each one suggested a price from £1.4 million to £1.55 million - and yet the client still wants to sell their house for £1.8 million.
It never ceases to amaze me that some vendors ask agents for their opinion and then decide that their house has "magically" bucked the market. Needless to say, they also insist on a ridiculously low commission rate. I don't expect the agent who takes the instruction in question will sell the house at a 20 per cent premium, or indeed ever earn any commission.
I receive two more signed terms of business from clients but agree not to start advertising the properties until the weather improves. The rest of the afternoon is spent alerting my list of cash buyers that these places are available. I wish I had a pound for every client who tells me he thinks his house will sell really quickly once it's on the market.
In the morning I visit our new office in Horsham, which fills in the gap from East and West Sussex quite nicely, and I enjoy meeting the new team over a sushi lunch. Oh, for the joys of brand-new equipment and an all-singing all-dancing coffee machine. Note to self - buy one for my office.
In the afternoon I am informed that the Government has frozen all the assets of the potential purchaser I showed around the farmhouse on Monday morning, and that it is likely he will be held at Her Majesty's pleasure... with more security than perhaps even he was looking for in his new home.
James Héroys works with Strutt & Parker at its branch in Haslemere, Surrey (01428 661077)