I’m dealing with three particular types at the moment, all variations of the same mold.
The first is the impossible dreamer; they believe if they only had that extra million their perfect property would be attainable. It’s never the case though for if they had 8 million and believed 12 million would do the trick then suddenly they’d need 18 million if 12 became a reality and so on. The hunting becomes academic and a means to convince themselves they’re really looking – it holds angst and disappointment at every turn and the more properties they reject the more elusive the ‘perfect’ one becomes. It’s no surprise this couple have been renting for ten years and as each year goes by the inexorable rise of London property prices further hinders their search. Why do I continue to work with them when I can recognize such traits? I wouldn’t normally, it’s just I’m incredibly fond of this couple and enjoy spending time with them even if I know it’s fruitless. I suspect deep down they do too. The cries of ‘don’t give up’ have turned to ‘don’t let us waste your time’ and I honestly respond, ‘it’s always a pleasure seeing you.’
The second is the cautious purchaser – a strand of the dreamer but rather different as they will purchase, eventually. They have their figures in their head and their wish-list in their hearts but they won’t let the former be ruled by the latter. The figures have to work even if they’re setting themselves an arduous task. Having missed out on several properties they really liked (loved is not something they do) they are still reluctant to stretch beyond a place of comfort. And this I understand. I try never to push in my job but sometimes I feel that I should for the sake of the client. If property in prime Central London does what it’s done over the last twenty-five years, this investment will be their retirement fund. And there are no signs that it won’t continue. When I’m told they will rent for two to five years to wait for the right thing I express my genuine concern that they will be priced out of the market. I don’t want them hovering with their already strained budget. I find them another potentially ‘right’ flat in what is now the thirteenth month of our search. I’m told the study is too big, disproportionate to their needs and they’d convert it into an en-suite bathroom costing a quarter of a million pounds to remodel. I find myself uttering the wonderful line, ‘do you want the right bathrooms or the right flat?’ It appears the bathrooms are winning to date.
The third client I’m working with is the eternal optimist – the one who is taken in by the charms of every flat and every neighbourhood I show them. Obviously I do work hard to make sure I fit the clients brief and don’t show any duds but their enthusiasm is such that I am quick to highlight the negatives on entering any flat. An offer is quickly made but after a night’s sleep withdrawn. I find this optimism appealing. The same client warmed enormously to a dear friend who filled in helping when GG was away. She couldn’t believe the attractive and charming girl was single and determined to find an eligible bachelor from her wide circle. Whilst looking around a house, I asked how the search was going, more as a courtesy than anything else.
‘I’ve found a man,’ she decreed ‘and he’s looking for a nice and uncomplicated girl.’
‘She’s both those things,’ I said, ‘along with attractive, kind and intelligent to boot.’
‘Yes, I know.’ My client said.
‘And tell me about him. ‘
‘Hmmm.’ Was the response.
‘Is he kind and decent?’
‘I’m a great believer in redemption and second chances,’ she replied.
‘Is he good looking?’
‘I wouldn’t call him attractive,’ I got in response.
‘How am I to sell him to Jemima?’ I asked.
There was a pause. ‘He is heterosexual.’ She said.
‘Oh, I was hoping that was a baseline qualification rather than a plus.’
‘So many people aren’t these days.’ I was told.
‘Yes, I know.’
I never thought there could be too much optimism in the world, but perhaps in this case there is.