‘The thing is – this place has be aspirational. Whoever walks in needs to fall in love with it and see themselves living here. All they’d have to bring is a toothbrush. We have to sell it as a lifestyle. So it has to be presented to perfection.’
I could hardly credit the clichés coming out of my mouth but they were true – the only way this gargantuan subterranean flat complete with all the trimmings of gyms, cinema rooms etc was ever going to sell is if we highlighted its strengths. And those are that there is a lot of space, it’s a party pad and finds itself in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, though dangerously close to Earls Court tube station.
‘The thing is,’ I said, warming to my theme, ‘Kate Moss could rock the grunge look because she’s naturally staggeringly beautiful. You could put a bin liner on her and she’d make it work. For mere mortals we need to do what we can to present ourselves in the best way – stay healthy, go to the gym, dress well (according to type), make an effort with grooming etc. This flat has lots of strengths but it’s not a supermodel of a property so we need to do all we can to present it in the best possible way. Does that somewhat crude analogy make sense?’
The owner of the flat looked at me somewhat curiously. I’m not sure if I’d gone too far in my pitch or whether honesty could have talked me out of the instruction. The truth is, I like the client very much and genuinely want to do a good job for him, but currently this mausoleum of mismatched furniture and slightly dated design is not going to stand a chance in an increasingly competitive market.
The £5-10 million market in which this flat would sit, and we hadn’t even gotten on to the client’s price expectations, is tough at the moment. Particularly as we’ve hit December and people are now talking about the spring as the next surge in the market.
‘Are you telling me that I bought a turkey?’
My inner voice wanted to say, ‘Yes, and why on earth didn’t you consult me before doing so?’ but instead I offered: ‘Not at all. The flat has lots going for it. We just need buyers to see that from the moment they walk through the door. We want them to think, wow, this is where I want to live.’
‘That’s what I thought.’
‘I know, so we need to recreate that feeling. It was ten years ago, though. We need to get that moment back – the place dressed and feeling lived in. Throws here, scented candles, a bit of music, books, photos and paintings on the walls. You know more about brands than me.
But think of Ralph Lauren, when you buy a tweed coat from him, you’re not just buying a jacket you’re buying the idea of a weekend in a baronial Scottish castle complete with footmen behind every chair. When you buy a pair of Calvin Klein underpants you’re buying a black and white snap shot of a beach walk in the Hamptons with a gorgeous other half.
When you walk into your flat, I want the buyer to think, this is a super cool party pad that I can live in and hang out in with my friends. That’s what we’re selling.’
‘OK. I get it.’
‘Great, so will you think about it?’
My client is a man of few words.