The situation is this or as my American friends might say, ‘here’s the thing’: We found a flat for clients who are making big moves – building a house in the country and downsizing their London apartment hoping for a certain amount of change in the process. We found them a flat that was woefully under priced and felt very clever. It was in fact the agent who’d been rather clever for pricing it at a good million pounds less than it was worth meant there was a mass descent of agents, developers, buyers and vipers on this Chelsea property. The agent was parked in there for three days over which time he repeated the same blurb over one hundred times to the point of exhaustion. He claimed, ‘basta, it’s time for sealed bids.’ He didn’t do it quite like that but I imagine his inner voice decreeing it so, instead he sent out a formal letter giving people one week to come up with their best offer in writing.
It suited the vendors but it didn’t really suit us. There was a price point that my clients could reach comfortably. There was the point GG and I thought it actually worth taking various comparables and market rises into account. And finally there was a figure that would blow everyone else out of the water and ensure they would secure it; for they love it and it would be their home forever. For them it was perfectly located, sized, decorated (for it needed everything doing and they like doing that).
How far would they go to secure it and what was my advice to be? We talked, and talked. They oscillated and I tried not to. It was complicated as we played with different figures. And what was the psychology behind our reasonings? Ever since I’ve been working in the prime London market prices have risen. Even through the dips the market has come back stronger than before. If you bought in the boom of 2007, you’d still have made money if you sold now. So, in a sense the thought of overpaying is an anomaly to me as eventually the market will surpass (and more so than inflation) the price you paid. But have these years of plenty given me a false sense of optimism in the London market – it doesn’t always sore inexorably without falter. Newton disproved his own theory of ‘what goes up must come down’ but can the high end London property market pull off the same trick. I don’t know is the answer so though my gut tells me they should stretch themselves to beyond their comfort zone to buy this wonderful flat I’m loathe to say so.
It’s not my money that I’m gambling with. And indeed, we all take different positions when it comes to such matters. Do you stretch yourself to the point of worry and sleepless nights or do you play it safe? And is it even playing it safe rather than simply valuing your quality of life and not stretching too far for the sake of bricks and mortar. In the end, though our home environment can affect us deeply, the fabric of it is not the most important thing. The people that populate it and those around us are.
And so, the client and I came to the same conclusion. We put in a healthy bid, one that was not an embarrassment but wasn’t punchy either. If we happen to get it, then great, fate has smiled. And if we don’t, they’ll be another flat.