Losing Your Property Virginity - Spear's Magazine

Losing Your Property Virginity

’The first time is always scary, it’s a huge step, a big thing'

‘The first time is always scary, it’s a huge step, a big thing,’ I found myself saying over a macchiato to a young man who’d asked my advice. I looked earnest while trying to set my face in a sympathetic pose.

I heard my words and realised I could have phrased it somewhat differently; I was referring to his first property purchase. But then again, everything I said was true.

Most of my clients are habitués of the property acquisition game, and when they buy or sell it’s rarely their primary home so the emotional investment is limited.

An interesting angle on this was provided by the rather camp ‘occasional decorator’ I met this week.

When I questioned him as to his self-styled job title of ‘occasional decorator’ he informed me of his two provisos for taking a job: a) his clients ‘must beg him’; and b) ‘it’s their third or fourth property. I need to have a free hand,’ he went on, ‘and when it’s their primary residence people can be so pernickety.’
    
   
I THOUGHT HOW absurd at the time, and that wasn’t just due to the content but his mannered delivery which involved an awful lot of hand wafting. Now, I can understand the sentiment. When someone is reliant on you, it comes with a degree of responsibility.

And so I find myself sitting with this polite and affable chap who wants to join the ranks of property ownership. The flat in question is going to sealed bids and we need to determine a price and strategy in order to secure it for him.

But first, I find myself conducting a psychological profile while trying not to be too personally intrusive. What is the purpose of the flat? What are his life plans? What does he do? Does this flat have an expiry date or is a life time purchase? How does he feel about the distribution of space for his own purposes?

I made my own rookie mistakes in buying my first flat and am still susceptible (contrary to my own beliefs) to being persuaded by hype and peer pressure. I regret deserting my trusty BlackBerry for the more-showy but less practical (for me) iPhone 5.

The ridiculously expensive new gym I joined, buying into the New York branding, I’ve come to hate. The house music that plays from the foyer to steam room prevents me from listening to my Desert Island Discs podcast as Kirsty Young is drowned out by the incessant thump of the beat.

And now I want to make sure this new client doesn’t fall for the glitz of this new apartment building in a fashionable part of town. I want to make sure that he really wants it and he doesn’t overpay.

We put in a sealed bid – and though it’s for a much smaller sum (or perhaps because) than we normally deal with – I feel almost as anxious on his behalf as my first time.

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