MondayUsual smorgasbord of early January appointments.First off meeting a client whose house didn’t sell last year. It’s a pretty Georgian property with lovely gardens and in the catchment of a great school. But sadly the main road has prevented all but the most determined buyers to view, and those that did could not “see” beyond the noise. The client is realistic and is willing to be patient, but wants to sell. We agree to reduce the price, but only privately to a handful of this year’s more motivated buyers.
Having spent most of Sunday morning showing a couple around a house near Tunbridge Wells (thus missing the Archers omnibus), I at least had the satisfaction of telling the owners the viewing had gone really well and an offer was imminent. So when the same viewer called and said the house didn’t suit at all my heart sank. I will choose my words carefully before giving feedback.
The market must be getting better. Having spent most of last week calling prospective buyers about a house south of East Grinstead with a guide of circa £5 million, we now have two interested parties. The same exercise carried out last autumn would almost certainly have yielded nothing. Even George Osborne’s imposition of an extra 3 per cent Stamp Duty seems not to have deterred at least two people, both of whom are UK-based.
An “open day” for a house formally coming on to the market in April but the client allowed me to accompany three parties for a preview. The first had seen the house some years back before it had been modernised. Always a tricky one as the client had spent £1m plus and I didn’t
fancy breaking the news his investment wasn’t sound. Fortunately, no need to worry as the appropriate positive noises were made. The second was a retiring banker looking to live back where he spent his childhood. Early days for him but again, a possible. The third was a tight-lipped buying agent, so you never know.
Three good viewings, so the four-hour round trip didn’t seem to be a waste.
Back in London to catch up with all the teams around the UK. Interesting to note that Tuesday’s success was also mirrored in Surrey and the Home Counties with an increase in UK, London-based buyers coming out of South West London looking for family homes, driven primarily by good schooling and commuter time back to the Capital. Just like the old days, but budgets and outlook are much more cautious.
Went to see a fabulous residential estate on the Kent/Sussex borders. So rare to find 100 acres plus with a house smack in the middle of it and no footpaths, neighbours, road or plane noise. The owner is an old client whom I have bought and sold for in the past. The only question really is do we sell privately or wait until Easter and try the open market? With a market so unpredictable, we agree a full campaign post-Easter is the right approach.
Returning to one of the local offices, I join them for their afternoon call out and then follow them to the pub, only to remember it is dry January. Roll on February.
William Peppitt is a Director and Head of Residential South East for Savills.