‘We do love it but it seems expensive.’ It sure isn’t cheap, I wanted to respond, but instead I said: ‘It’s a wonderful property, a real home. What I would suggest is you put forward an offer that you’re comfortable with, I’ll take it to my client and we’ll go from there.’
I knew my client would say ‘no’ to the amount they were proposing but at least it would open a dialogue and we could start the souk-like process of going back and forth, giving final ultimatums and then wriggling 50,000 just this way or that to close the deal.
Once the ball is rolling, I’m fairly confident that I can get it to the place it’s meant to go as if two parties have expressed intent and have a shared goal – buying or selling – it usually works out. That’s provided there’s someone there to steer the personalities involved over the rocky path of ego and expectation.
We’re in a precarious market: asking prices have never been higher and there’s an assured belief, on the sellers part, that a ten per cent rise per annum is obligatory. With big properties – those over 15M are sticking around – there are rumblings among certain agents and pundits that the super-prime market has over-inflated itself.
It’s gauged on too much hype – the promise of Indian, Russian, Middle Eastern and European money. London is a great place to live with a favourable tax scheme for those from the aforementioned countries, but there always has to be a limit.
We are selling several properties at the moment – two of which have buyers circling them but they are seemingly unable to make that final hurdle of commitment – the offer.
I laughed at my friend Peter – a whizz-kid sales executive for the contemporary art powerhouse White Cube – when we holidayed together last summer. I had brought the usual stash of the booker prize nominees along with a couple of classics.
He plonked himself down by the pool on the first day with his own stash. Nosily I took a look – they were all on the art of the sale. The sort of book that promised to make you a millionaire in three easy steps. Naturally I scoffed.
Now I’m beginning to wonder if I should have asked for précis or read one myself. I’ve always believed a property sells itself and to treat clients with an unxious sales patter is to only insult and alienate them. Be professional, be ready with all the relevant information and comparables, price things with optimistic reason and show the place in its best possible light.
If it’s west facing, take clients in the afternoon as the dappled sun shines through the trees in the communal gardens. If east, take them in the morning. But resorting to tricks – false implication of other offers (the surest way to get someone off the fence) – I’ve never done.
As we still await offers on both aforementioned properties, I wonder if I may be in need of some new reading materials.