January was the bellwether for the year ahead — it’s been a busy start. Stock markets are shuddering but, for now, the housing market follows a steady track. My career started in the City and I always have one eye on the FTSE.
We have a rush of second-home buyers from London who are keen to buy before April’s new stamp duty surcharge.
I receive a call from one with an offer on Old Guildhall in Hitcham — marketed for £1.25 million — following contact last Friday and a viewing with me on Saturday.
Ideal buyers are the kind who know they want to buy, view the next day and decide swiftly. The price is agreed, but encouraging my vendors to commit to completion by March 31 is challenging. There’s not a single sale I’m currently putting together where this completion deadline is not stipulated.
Next, it’s a London couple negotiating on a second home purchase in Newton for £1,275,000. There are tough negotiations on price, but agreeing the completion is a doddle with this one. A second sale is agreed — a good start to the week.
I email a market appraisal to a couple whose house I saw on Saturday and which we had previously sold for a famous acting family (now of James Bond fame). It’s a re-instruction I’m keen to win.
Today starts with a team meeting to review our new instructions. One is a gorgeous moated hall house, near Hadleigh.
I had previously sold a former farmhouse for this client. He’s a leading financial PR — his attention to detail is formidable and he’s a very tough negotiator. The previous sale was a success and he has become one of our best ambassadors. He approves the brochure and we’re off.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney’s recent announcement that interest rates are unlikely to increase in the foreseeable future has given comfort. This man is my hero.
Mark Granger, our chief executive, arrives early for his scheduled visit. It’s good to hear about the firm’s ongoing success and strategy to 2020.
A market appraisal with a colleague follows. We are shown around the converted chapel in Boxford by the charming owner and his excitable dogs. (Don’t be a country agent if you don’t like dogs.) Sitting on a long table below the pulpit, we present our recommendations, but are informed another agent has proposed a guide price £100,000 in excess of ours. We justify our position, but leave uncertain whether we’ll be instructed.
My first appointment is a Victorian cottage close to the pub in Polstead. Being within walking distance of a pub is an even bigger plus than a shop in Suffolk. It is also close to Colchester train station, from which trains to Liverpool Street take from 48 minutes. This property will undoubtedly attract interest from buyers looking to commute to London.
We arrange a date for the photography to be done and decide we’ll launch the cottage in three weeks’ time with a ‘tease’ price, to maximise interest, as it requires modernisation.
An email from the owners of the “James Bond” property confirms we’ve got the instruction. Confirmation then follows that the converted chapel owner wants to instruct us immediately, too.
It’s an office-based day. I review our buyers from the past 12 months and it confirms those from London, Suffolk and Essex were in the majority. However, Buckinghamshire is beginning to feature. Next, I’m writing market comment for local newspapers. I also update my corporate blog.
I book viewings for the moated hall instruction near Hadleigh. Interestingly, one of the calls is from a lady in Buckinghamshire. I ask: “What’s tempting you to Suffolk?” She answers: “It’s a no-brainer. We’re now so expensive in Bucks, and Suffolk is affordable, beautiful and rural, and not too far from London.” It’s funny to hear someone selling “secret Suffolk” to me, for a change.
- Caroline Edwards is a partner and head of residential sales at Carter Jonas in Long Melford, Suffolk (www.carterjonas.co.uk; 01787 888622).