The beauty of living in a Chilterns village 17 miles from my office is that my commute is normally a breeze. Alas, not today, as I am severely held up by a combination of tractors and parents on the school run.
I get to the office to run the morning set-up meeting, and I hear the weekend was busy with plenty of viewings. But it's not long before the "D" word is mentioned. We are beset with more buyers dithering. There was a time when someone interested in a property on a Saturday, would offer on the Monday and you would tie up the sale by Tuesday. Not any more. I've got one on my desk where we have been negotiating the price for two months.
The meeting runs over thanks to the volume of potential interested parties. I make a lot of calls to clients updating them on the weekend. All are conscious that the holiday season is fast approaching so there is a sense of concern creeping into many of the conversations. I head off at 4pm for a market appraisal of a rather nice farmhouse in 10 acres. The client grills me for three hours and I stagger home at 8pm - my pregnant wife is not amused.
I am knee-deep in ditherers. We have about a dozen potential deals to work on but all the buyers are nervous and want to make sure they are "buying well".
A lot of the nervousness surrounds the proposed high-speed rail link (HS2), so we have become experts on the proposed route. It's frustrating as many of our properties are simply too far away for it to be a problem, but nonetheless we have to reassure buyers.
A lovely couple come into our offices to talk about the area. I wax lyrical about the lovely schools and beautiful countryside, while their four-year-old son picks up a sonic tape measure. The mother looks concerned that little Johnny might break it but I pipe up: "Don't worry, madam, it's idiot-proof." Mum is not amused. The day ends with a marathon phone call with the client from yesterday - joy.
Sadly, we are currently dealing with a lot of divorce sales and most are naturally looking to maximise the price they achieve so that the split of the proceeds is as palatable as possible. I spend the day updating a number of these clients and achieve a few price reductions. It's painful for them but at least they can move on rather than holding out for an unrealistic figure.
I go to see a cracking house in the Vale of Aylesbury with half a dozen alpacas that find it quite amusing to follow me round the land, with one of them spitting at me. Wipe myself down only to then be slobbered over by a smelly old spaniel. I make a mental note to get my suit cleaned.
At last a few of our deals fall into place. Lunchtime sees the deadline for sealed bids on a stunning cottage in Long Crendon. For fun, we all guess the best offer and Susan gets within £1,000 - not bad so I buy her a bottle of plonk as a prize.
Our new website goes live so we all familiarise ourselves with our shiny online presence. Updating websites is a costly business but it is essential to ensure we make our clients' properties stand out. We also get the chance to give people an understanding of the breadth of services we offer.
The new website seems to be working. I come in to a wave of enquiries. As always, these get our immediate attention and we call/email the enquirers straight away. Someone from our Fulham office calls with a hot buyer so I give him a ring and we set up a viewing tour for the weekend. Thirty per cent of our buyers are migrating out of London and many of these are directly referred to us from our London offices.
The client from Monday calls and I spend an hour on the phone talking about photos of his house...arrgghhh! The diary is filling for the weekend and thankfully the ditherers seem to be having a couple of days off - let's hope that gives me an easier job next week.
Ian Westerling is an associate partner with Strutt & Parker at Princes Risborough, Bucks (01844 342 571).