We are one week into the traditional autumn selling season. Buckets and spades have been returned to the loft and the kids are back at school. There is change in the air as I make my way to my first appointment. I am visiting a house that we have just been instructed to sell.
It sits on the edge of a village close to Salisbury, with views over a private valley. This house has stunning features. As well as an indoor swimming pool, there is a marvel of engineering - a twostorey conservatory accessed via the drawing room on the ground floor and the master bedroom on the first to take full advantage of the views.
Negotiations that started over the weekend on a £2 million Georgian house are now into a third day. Buyer and seller are adrift in their perceptions of value by just over five per cent. Neither side will budge so it is time for creative thinking. I'm convinced there is a deal to be done and equally certain that the seller's view is correct.
I suggest a trip to a comparable house that I recently sold for a higher price than the buyer wanted to pay. The owner was so delighted with the price we achieved he was happy to agree to my cheeky request.
Our tour around his house is imbued with the warm atmosphere of a successfully completed transaction. This vibe, along with clear evidence of value, is instrumental in the buyer agreeing to my seller's price by nine o'clock in the evening.
I awake invigorated with the satisfaction of the previous day's business. However, if you ever begin to feel too grand this job has the habit of bringing you back down to earth. Iam at a house that sits in a beautiful position but is extremely tight to its boundaries.
In preparation for a sale I helped the owner purchase an extra half acre of land from the neighbouring farmer which will make the house much more attractive. The fence is now up so I need to confirm the measurements of the boundary. I borrow a 100ft tape measure from our farm management department and to the first fence post I boldly stride across the field - attracting hungry interest from the young bullocks on the other side of the fence.
I look down in order to write my measurements and when I look up, the far end of my tape measure, 100ft away, is disappearing into a bullock's stomach.
I'm sure the breaking strength on my "line" is insufficient to reel in the beast so I make a quick sprint... which is followed by a slap on the nose as a soggy, green three feet of tape is released from my bovine friend. I return the tape to its owner with my explanation... for which the reply comes: "Bulls**t." "Very nearly," I reply.
Today it's a refreshing trip to a brandnew house in a lovely village. The owner built the house himself and the attention to detail is phenomenal. It is very contemporary with clean lines and a vast living space overlooking the garden. It's also very eco-friendly with no gas or oil and all heating and hot water on electricity, solar panels and a ground source heat pump. The owner shows me his electricity bill for the year. The total energy cost for this large four-bedroom house cost him, on average, £150 per month.
I unexpectedly saw one of my former clients on a re-showing of Dragons' Den last night. It was fascinating to watch this extremely confident lady, who had taken a hard line with her buyers, take on the Dragons. By playing one off against the other she got her deal.
I rang her with my congratulations and she let me know she intends to put another of her properties on the market. I am left with the resounding challenge that she expects a similar bidding war. Perhaps I can get the Dragons interested in that, too!
Andrew Grice is associate partner in Strutt & Parker's Salisbury office (01722 328741).