Up extra early this morning for our weekly meeting. This is no problem, as my six-month-old daughter ensures that I don’t sleep in. And with the market looking brighter after the doldrums last year, everyone is in a good mood.
I’m off early this afternoon to north Devon, to show some viewers from London around a lovely property with over 70 acres of superb land, including pasture, woodland and river frontage. Our client, looking very fit, insists on accompanying us over the land, but the London viewers and I begin to flag as we cover every inch of the property in a brisk and chilly wind.
I have been looking forward to today and enjoy a pleasant drive to an estate which we are launching to the market privately this spring. This is the second time I have handled the sale of this superb property, which has a traditional farmhouse, some holiday cottages and an established shoot. I have been invited to take part in several shoots here.
Today, I am here to take particulars and am left to my own devices, because the clients are on the land. I am standing in the utility room, writing up information, when I am startled by the sound of loud snoring from Jack, the very old, very deaf resident dog. I beat a hasty retreat before he wakes up and takes my leg off.
A day in the office today, catching up on applicants and viewings, both of which are on the increase. We agreed the sales of two properties this week, one of which my colleague started negotiating on back in October. Who says estate agents give up too easily?
Some of the team and I join a firm of local solicitors for early evening drinks and networking. The solicitors have come up with a novel idea — playing blackjack and giving us Monopoly money to gamble with. It certainly helps the evening flow well and has given me an idea. Strutt & Parker is sponsoring Great Ormond Street children’s hospital this year and each office has been asked to raise funds for what is now a national charity. It is a challenge to come up with new ways to raise money, and an evening of innocent gaming might just catch on. I may also volunteer to cycle with a colleague from Devon to Ipswich — am I mad?
Another early start as I rush to attend an 8am meeting of the Exeter Estate Agents Association, where I have been nominated chairman and need to be formally voted in. These meetings are very useful for getting a feel for how the competition is finding the market and gaining information about their strategies.
Here in the South West, we have suffered from the bad weather — first, with flooding before Christmas and later with a week of heavy snow. We have quite a large number of properties expected to come to the market in the early spring, and when the sun puts in an appearance our photographer can go out and do his job. At least we have had dry, crisp weather of late, which has improved the quality of the land at some of the farm sales.
I accompany a potential buyer around a lovely property we are marketing confidentially in the South Hams. The viewing goes well and the buyer and seller get on like a house on fire! During the drive back to Exeter, the buyer becomes quite talkative and probably reveals more than is sensible about his enthusiasm for the property we have just seen. It looks like I will be putting forward an offer to our clients early next week — a great end to the week.
James H Baker is a partner in the Exeter office of Strutt & Parker. Call 01392 229 418.