With tomorrow’s Bank Holiday comes the end of the summer. Cue the arrival on our screens of a plethora of adverts featuring roaring log fires, rosy cheeked infants sitting at tables covered with enough food to keep them going until February whilst their parents smile beatifically at each other, (just before they serve the divorce papers/commit matricide/announce that they are going to live in a kibbutz with Roger from Accounts). So with the dawning of the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness I sat down yesterday with the papers to confirm that I actually could recognise some of the contestants on this year’s Strictly Come Prancing. Before I got to reading of the spray tanned, besequinned posse, I noticed an article about a young mother who has lost a quite astonishing 9 stone. As Cwmbran’s resident fitness and health guru-Ladies, you may look, but touching does carry a cost-I was intrigued as to how she had shed the equivalent of a conditional jockey who could use his full claim. Boot camp? A slimming club? Er, no; she had stopped drinking 4 litres of Coca-Cola every day. Well blow me down with a wave of a fairy wand. Who would have thought that not consuming your very own sugar mountain every 24 hours would have such a huge impact on your weight. As I myself indulged in a Coca Cola and its bedfellow Havanna Club 7 year old, I pondered the quite blindingly obvious effects caused by certain actions that I find myself dealing with in the world of selling houses. Only this week, I encountered a couple who had clearly purchased the latest bestseller, “How to try and buy a house, p”£$ing off the agent and the vendor in the process”. They also scored a maximum 10 for effort as they had clearly read it from cover to cover and tested each other on the content.
Let me revisit a very pleasant property, where in my presence they said to the vendor-a mature lady who had spent many happy years living there-how much they liked the property, how they could imagine starting a family there, how happy she must have been living there with her late husband and what a terrific vegetable garden he had created and how they would be delighted to keep it going, (obviously after removing the pile of vomit that I had involuntarily deposited on it having heard their spiel). Tactic Number One-getting the vendor on side-was employed to great effect-even I was impressed. “Oh, they are such a nice couple, I would love to sell to them” said Mrs Vendor. “In fact, they can have the washing machine (a very recent purchase), the oven (modern and in immaculate condition), the fridge (same detail as the oven), the cat (not so modern but cats don’t live forever). Well played Mr and Mrs Prospective Purchaser. The next day enamoured with how well their fervent following of their recent literary purchase had gone, they employed Tactic Number Two-play it cool with the agent-with yours truly. Having rung as part of our follow up I was told, “Well, we aren’t that bothered, we quite liked it, but we have loads to view, we’ll ring you back if we want to make an offer”. Please yourself mate, but when/if you do decide to ring back, it may already be under offer. “Oh”. Indeed. Continuing our follow up process, we rang again a day later to be met with Tactic Number Three-come in with an offer way short of the asking price-“Tell her its ok, but we offer £15k below the asking price and that is our only offer, we won’t move”. Okey dokey. I rang the genteel and charming vendor to relay the offer. Word for expressive word, “Tell them both to fuck off”. Of course Mrs Vendor, I managed to say after I had picked up the phone from where I had dropped it. Having transposed this into estate agent speak, I rang the couple to tell them that, “Mrs Vendor is pleased that you made an offer, but at this stage she wants as close to the asking price as possible”.
4 days and 36 phone calls later we agreed a sale at £2k below the asking price and no, they did not get any white goods, nor the cat, (who at this point was adding his own offering in the vegetable patch). The purchasers had clearly skipped the chapter that told them that under the Ombudsman’s Scheme that we must join, estate agents have to show due diligence to the buyer as well as the purchaser. As members of the redress scheme, it is in nobody’s interest for us to try and have anyone’s pants down. Our purchasers’ zealous following of the, “What to do to get the property at the lowest possible price” backfired quite spectacularly. Let us not forget that a good deal should benefit all parties.