The trickling of movement has begun: Terminal 5 is witnessing the return of matching sets of luggage from Cape Town, Antigua, Barbados and closer hops from airports that access the European ski resorts.
People have decided to ignore the driving rain and make the best of the next few months – feeling grateful that we’re not on the east coast of the US – as gradually the afternoon light allows us extra minutes and we hope the weather isn’t too cruel for us Londoners.
While most of our clients are still abroad, wisely waiting until at least the middle of the month before returning, the wheels of the property world are beginning to crank. Agents are starting to talk to each other, deals that were agreed before Christmas are now beginning to make actual traction as the lawyers are back in their offices, and there’s a general feeling of anticipation.
Last year was a funny one – vendors’ expectations of prices remained high and were sometimes, surprisingly, achieved. But the properties that sold were unpredictable and often took a lot longer than was anticipated. The most obvious candidates (traditional houses with good bones) languished on the market for months and no one quite knew why.
And then suddenly someone would appear and pay the asking price after one viewing while others had traipsed through countless times with architects, friends, distant cousins from overseas and had still been unable to commit. We agents just love those decisive buyers.
I had the pleasure, just after Christmas, of seeing my dream flat. It was just before I’d made my own escape to the sun. I have friends who know how to dress, friends whose taste in art is exquisite, those who can decorate with flair and panache on a shoestring budget and those who always source the best Pilates instructor, personal trainer or chef. All valuable talents.
This friend, who invited me round for supper, knows how to buy property. He has an eye for the exquisite. It’s not necessarily the ostentatious but there’s always something exceptional about the properties that he chooses.
He’d previously owned a penthouse in Kensington with a 2,000 square foot roof terrace. It topped an Art Deco building and I thought it was hard to beat. The flat he purchased is on the other side of the park but right on it. Again it’s a penthouse and he’s bought the roof from his fellow residents and gone up into it, thereby creating a New York loft effect of double height ceilings with a huge skylight in the middle.
The view from the sitting room is due south with six floor-to-ceiling windows giving on to a balcony that faces Hyde Park. The room is large and open-plan with a kitchen tucked around a corner at the back and a feeling of incredible space and light.
His own bedroom suite has the same floor-to-ceiling windows, again facing straight onto the park, and from his en-suite next door both his bath and open-plan shower afford the same view. It’s breathtaking to say the least.
As I got onto the plane the following night heading for the Pampas of Argentina, I told myself here was the incentive for me to have a successful year and rest of decade. It’s always good to aspire, in a healthy way, and a flat like that would make the spirits soar if it belonged to you.
Now I’ll just have to spend the year finding my clients properties that inspire them with a similar feeling.