© Merrily Harpur (harpur.org)
An extra-early start as our office manager is on holiday and, apart from selling houses, I have also taken on the role of advertising manager. We have a number of new properties coming to the market and apart from organising the brochure production, advertising deadlines have to be met. We are just about to market a beautiful Georgian farmhouse and our vendor has given us permission to show it before it appears in Country Life next week, so I eagerly anticipate our first viewing.
My applicants were accompanied by their four-year-old — impeccably behaved until we met the family pets. One of them, an aged labrador, was very frail and when I suggested she treat him gently she retorted she would... as he’d be dead next week.
What has hitherto been a straightforward sale erupts, with the prospect of it falling through not far away. Both the vendor and purchaser are abroad and, although they are keen to keep a dialogue going, their solicitors are not so amenable. Unfortunately there are some (I did say “some”) solicitors who are sent into a spin by having to conduct a conversation with a mere agent — if you can cajole them into speaking to you in the first place. Anyway, once I manage to convince the vendor’s solicitor that we have “mutual clients” and we are working to achieve the same ends, progress swiftly follows.
My diary is full of viewings and the thought of escaping the office fills me with pleasure. We work in south-west Surrey — the countryside is beautiful and the villages extremely pretty. I set off to my first appointment of the day, a lovely Grade II-listed farmhouse. It has been refurbished to a high standard and is full of antique furniture and precious knick-knacks. My applicant arrives with her angelic-looking daughter, but imagine my surprise when the child is introduced as “Pollydon’ttouchit”. As it happens, the property survives unscathed but my nerves are frazzled by the time they leave.
Four more back-to-back viewings — please no more children. Unable to check my mobile until a convenient break, I’m thrilled to get a message that contracts have been exchanged on the problem sale of the day before.
An early start, but peace is shattered by the first phone call: sticky back-to-back sales on four properties in a chain — all being sold through Strutt & Parker; all with issues that the solicitors have to deal with, and with an important deadline, as the cash buyers at the bottom of the chain are having a baby at any moment. We must exchange tonight or the sale will fall through.
I call all the solicitors to make sure they will be available but one has to play at an organ recital at the cathedral, so cannot wait any longer than 6pm. I am beginning to think it’s all off when I get the call — exchange happens at 5.57pm with three minutes to spare. Everyone is happy but my nerves of steel have been tested this time.
I am taking a break next week, so I just have to get to the end of today but, judging from my unanswered emails, it could be a very long one. An encouraging feature of the last few weeks is the number of pitches we have been on. Suddenly, we have five new instructions and this has created a buzz in the office, outdone only by the buzz of an alarm bell at a client’s house. The day goes well and I’m hoping for a swift getaway but there is a late flurry of activity, including with a less-than-courteous applicant who can’t understand why it’s difficult to arrange a viewing at 7pm on Saturday — does our client want to sell or not?
Sally Blundell Jones is an associate at the Guildford office of Strutt & Parker (01483 306565)