Diary of an estate agent: Canterbury
The beginning of the week is an excellent time to catch up with clients who will either be eager to get feedback from the weekend’s viewing or concerned why no one has been to see their property. It’s a challenge to speak to everyone in a single day but we try. At least one seller will tell us: “I think that the Smiths who looked at the weekend loved it and will make an offer.”
But when we come to speak to the Smiths, we learn that the layout didn’t suit them, and they hated the village. Such is feedback.
The typical viewer is terribly British, and doesn’t like to upset the seller. Little do they realise how much easier the process would be if they could be just a little more candid.
I’m visiting two houses I know well today, one owned by a friend who called me a month ago to let me know he’d decided to instruct a newly opened competitor “because he was hoping to buy a house through them and it made sense, didn’t it?”
It turns out that while it may have made sense for our competitor, they failed to deliver in any respect on the sale — and subsequently sold the house my friend wanted to buy to someone else. I am confident we can make a good sale.
The second visit is to a superb house we sold some 10 years or so ago — it has been heavily improved. In our discussion on price, it is refreshing to learn that not every seller is wildly ambitious — we reassure him that good results can definitely be achieved, and are almost always based on a realistic approach. I am reminded of the wise words of a property developer who said: “There is always a market out there, it just comes down to price.”
My weekly visit to our Sevenoaks office. The market round here is very different from the one in Canterbury, which makes a refreshing change. We’re having a big marketing drive here and after three inspections we win instructions on the two best houses. Both are to be prepared for our forthcoming Open House Day, an event unique to Strutt & Parker. The first was held in Kent and they are now rolled out nationwide. We like to think this is one of the innovative things we do above and beyond the norm.
Today the partners from across the country gather in London to review the past year, and learn more about the various new initiatives around the firm. Being a partnership quite literally brings a sense of ownership to the whole thing — culturally it makes us what we are. The journey to and from London, on the still relatively new high-speed train from Kent, is fully occupied with discussing offers with clients.
A long chain of nine houses is taking some holding together. Every person involved thinks they can dictate the date of completion. Some inevitable hold-ups, typical of a long chain but not unduly alarming, threaten to upset the whole applecart and I spend the day calming everyone down, encouraging them to look at the bigger picture.
Quite a contrast with another sale, where a short chain with three parties feels very laid-back. I seem to be the only one anxious to exchange.
The week ends on a humorous note. A colleague comes back to the office to report that he has finished a viewing at a barn, when he realises he’s locked half of the family — of seven — inside.
Ed Church is a partner in the Canterbury branch of Strutt & Parker (020 7225 3866)