© Merrily Harpur (harpur.org)
Driving into Salisbury this morning, I notice that the daffodils are blossoming. Is spring finally here? Given the shortage of good houses, I’m hoping the sunny weather will encourage a few people to move.
My first appointment is at a delightful manor house. On walking into an impressive panelled bedroom, the owner tells me that it is known as Monck’s Room, after George Monck, later the 1st Duke of Albemarle, who helped return Charles II to the throne. As the owner admits: “Gordon Brown owes all his problems to this house!”
My afternoon is spent at a beautiful late-Georgian house we sold to the current owners 12 years ago. Since then they have given the house an exquisite overhaul, restoring the original charm but giving it a modern feel. The stable block has been turned into a state-of-the-art recording studio, with a collection of vintage guitars used on some of the top albums of the past 10 years.
The morning is dominated by intense negotiation over the sale of a remarkable Queen Anne house with views and river frontage. We have a good offer but there are still keen buyers who are desperate to visit the house. We agree a sale at the guide price.
Later, we get an acceptable offer on a very handsome house with a large garden and its own lake. Usually in the run-up to a general election, the property market slows down but there seems to be little evidence of it today. I spend the afternoon at a delightful farmhouse with superb period barns from the early 16th century. There are also formal gardens, stables and paddocks, and the house sits in an extremely tranquil and popular position. We are confident that it will attract a premium buyer. The day’s activity leaves me with the feeling that the majority of our clients have discounted the election and Budget, and just want to get on with their lives.
We are advising a shrewd economist on the potential sale of his house, and it is fascinating to hear his take on the country’s financial position. Our serious chat about the global money markets is given a bizarre twist by the beautiful parrot that’s perched on his shoulder.
I take on a new instruction for a superb thatched house in a very popular village near Longleat. The majority of houses there are still owned by the estate so the rare freehold sales always create a stir; the last house I sold in the village went for 16 per cent over the guide price, so the bar is set high.
I have an appointment to visit clients who have been in touch with me for seven years, but the house never quite manages to come to the market. I was supposed to visit them last week but they cancelled, and sounded strangely frazzled. The reason for the delay is two newly adopted young rescue dogs — a doberman and a foxhound — which chewed through the inlet pipe of a fridge freezer and managed to flood the boot room.
Undeterred, the redecoration is now finished. It is a lovely period house with stables and six acres surrounded by excellent riding country. After Easter is a good time to bring it to market. The indoor swimming pool is now gone.
Saturday and Sunday certainly won’t be quiet as a charming but dilapidated house in a breathtaking position is attracting huge interest. I explain to numerous buyers that even a basic overhaul will cost about £200,000. However, if anyone is brave enough to spend half a million on it they will end up with a stunning house with panormic views for 30 miles.
Driving home on Friday, I notice the first blossom in the hedgerow. I must ring the owners of Cherry Tree Cottage — it’s the perfect time to sell.
Andrew Grice is an agent at Strutt & Parker’s Salisbury office (01722 328741).