Finally, it feels as if the world has woken up after Christmas and New Year. The property market can be mercurial at this time of year, and often buyer activity mirrors weather conditions. Encouragingly, we have taken lots of calls today from owners who have shaken off festive inactivity and are now talking seriously about putting their houses on the market.
I have an appointment today at a 250-acre farm between Salisbury and Romsey that we photographed last year. Despite a chilly drizzle, the owner and I drive around the boundaries to plan a route for the prospective buyers who have been given an early ‘heads-up’ and are arriving in an hour’s time. The viewing goes very well and the potential buyers ask me to promise that I won’t sell it to anyone else.
The variety in my job is wonderful. Yesterday I was tramping through gleaming fields and past frosted flight ponds on a farm, today I am looking at a beautiful and compact Georgian house in the middle of Salisbury. The internal layout has changed over the years as the house and its neighbours have moulded themselves around one another over the centuries. On occasion, staircases have been shared and moved as well as rooms being swapped between buildings before coming to rest in the current, delightful configuration. Thankfully the glorious ceiling heights have remained on all three floors, and I have someone in mind.
A crisis call from an old client. I sold his house for him a year ago and he has since been renting, waiting for the right property to buy. He has just heard that a house in the neighbouring village may soon be available. He asks me to approach the owner to suggest an off-market sale and instructs me to handle any negotiations for him.
It leads me to consider how a more uncertain property market can lead to opportunities in unlikely places. We have numerous properties that have not been advertised and are only marketed ‘quietly’. I love these instructions as they allow us to operate ‘off the radar’ and broker deals without full marketing. If you’re a keen buyer and know what you want, then the only way to make sure you see the whole picture from estate agents is to speak to us.
My afternoon brings a hilarious appointment showing a potential buyer around a country house north of Salisbury. My buyer is larger than life in all respects and I am told that the size, condition or position of the actual house is secondary to the ability of the garden to support her rose collection, currently drooping in Mr Pickford’s storage unit. She loves the house but I am assured, quite seriously, that her roses wouldn’t love it.
A great start to my Friday morning — a call from Monday’s farm viewers making an offer. It isn’t quite enough yet, but I’m confident that we will have a deal over the weekend.
My final appointment of the day is at one of the most exceptional houses I have seen in a long time. I discuss the right approach with the owner and we agree that, for very good reasons, the house should not be fully marketed until the late spring. This is despite the fact that I already know of three buyers who would quite happily camp outside the house for a week for the chance to see it.
The house, quite simply, is one of those that will sell best during a wide-ranging and carefully planned marketing campaign, particularly as there is a famous former owner who could help us get some wonderful publicity in the newspapers when the time comes. Something exciting to look forward to in the coming months then.
Andrew Grice is partner in Strutt & Parker's Salisbury office. Call 01722 344 014.