Diary of an estate agent: West Country

A client holds fire on the purchase of some farmland due to Donald Trump's inauguration and the agent finalises a very special event with Christies... 

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A client calls early, at 7.30am, suggesting we pause on the purchase of some farmland we’ve been negotiating. With Donald Trump newly inaugurated as US President, the client is keen to see what impact this might have on the markets before proceeding. 

First Brexit and now Trump.  It’s my strong belief that in times of uncertainty, low-risk assets such as farmland attract investment.

I spend the rest of the day on tenterhooks, waiting to hear about another offer I submitted for a client over the weekend for a lovely small estate which is not on the open market.

We’ve been trying to buy a West Country farm for over a year, and today I’m meeting our client there. The owner sadly died during negotiations and now that probate has been granted, we are finally able to progress. 

Today’s trip is to walk a very steep new boundary in the thick woodland. It’s better than going to the gym on this sunny, crisp winter’s day. Hopefully, we can now finally agree terms. 

Back at my desk in London, I finalise details of a special event we are hosting alongside Christie’s. 

We’re inviting valued clients to a champagne brunch with the chance to preview — and even try on — pieces from the auction house’s forthcoming Important Jewels sale.

This is a day for catching up with new clients and agents. At this time of year, agents are busy seeing property for the spring market and often there will be a winter window where we can get our clients in early. 

There are one or two very nice houses in the Cotswolds coming up this year and I have the perfect buyer for one of them. They are over from the Far East next week so that would be a good time for us to view. 

January can be our busiest time, picking up new houses before they are advertised, or doing some good deals with vendors who are keen to get their property sold when it has lingered too long.

I visit an old client today, for whom I bought an estate a few years ago in Hampshire. 

He very kindly invited me back to experience first-hand how he has improved its sporting credentials. 

There are only a handful of estates that trade at this level of the market and often we will make approaches to owners of big estates, to see if they will consider selling. It is surprising how often this results in success.

Covering just over 300 miles, this is a day on the road viewing five potential properties for clients who spend most of their time abroad. Only one of the five ticks most of their boxes. 

I will drop them a written report later, recommending that we arrange for them to view the place when they are next over in the UK. 

As I drive into London I think about the market and how so much has happened in the last 18 months. Despite political events and changes to stamp duty, it appears that most of our clients are keen to get on with their lives. 

This is confirmed by my client from Monday calling to say he has changed his mind and wants to buy the farmland after all — oh, and by the way, can I find him a house, too?

  • Jessica Simpson is a partner at Private Property Search, the independent buying consultancy of Strutt & Parker (020 7318 4640).

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