By the end of November the market is normally very quiet and we use our time chasing the last few sales through before Christmas. Today I have three viewings (including two second viewings) on a house. A sale fell through in the summer and was relaunched last month.
The Sixties house has spectacular views down across the garden to the River Itchen, the chalk stream famous for its brown trout fishing. After a viewing there I ask the owner what she is having for supper. I suggest fish, which seems to please her, and she then leaves to go shopping. I always have a rod in the back of the car so I think a spot of fishing is in order. It's a success and I leave her with a 4.5lb trout from the river flowing past her house.
On my way back after dropping my son at school I get a call from my solicitor about the house we are trying to buy. There are still one or two issues outstanding that I need to discuss with the vendor. The house came off the market in summer, having failed to sell. There is no agent involved - apart from me! - and therefore no go-between to sort out any potentially emotional complications.
The process has really made me appreciate my job and the role we play in ensuring that sales proceed to satisfactory conclusions. During the afternoon an offer comes in from one of yesterday's viewings, and we book in a market appraisal for a house south of Winchester for Friday. I am planning to take Mark Jamieson with me from the country house team in London, as the property sounds extremely nice and will hopefully enable us to end the week on a high.
I meet the team at home to spend the first couple of hours making mince pies to give to clients past, present and future during the run-up to Christmas. With me making the pastry, Alice cutting the shapes and Andrea filling (with the mincemeat made by my mother and son) it is a very efficient production line, with a bit of team bonding thrown in.
During the mince pie making, another offer comes in from a Monday showing. After a bit of a negotiation the two offers are put to the client. Having popped the pies in the oven I attend a meeting with the press department to discuss a story about commuting from Winchester.
I drop my son at school and take his little brother to Newbury racecourse for the launch of Tractor Ted goes Racing. The telephone does not stop ringing on the way, with the clients from the house on Monday wanting to discuss the offers, a new client wanting to discuss our terms of business and the Salisbury office wanting to go on a pitch next week.
I return from racing to have a meeting with a buyer to try to keep the sale on track after a bad survey. It is easy to forget that we do this every day and that it is not always easy for buyers to relate to issues that we would take for granted. It is not looking good and they will discuss it further tomorrow. Not a good end to the day, but at least my littlest son was happy.
I leave early for the big pitch with Mark. The buyer with the bad survey calls to say they have decided to pull out. This is followed by another call from a buyer who has lost their buyer and wants to know if we will wait for them to find a new one.
The day's not going well and things do not look like getting better when we drive through some large gates and pass a sign which reads: "Do not get out of your car until you are met." I decide to sit tight and am thankful when I see the huge snarling dog at the other side of the glass doors. The pitch goes well and we both leave in one piece.
The day could only get better, and we agree the sale from the beginning of the week, Andrea finds another buyer for one of the fall-throughs... and I am able to go home with the exciting news that we have exchanged on our new family house.
George Burnand is a partner in Strutt & Parker's Winchester office (01962 869999)