A meditation on rotters

October 30, 2010 by The Secret Property Agent

Timing is key when it comes to clinching property sales

It’s the waiting I can’t bear. It has an almost paralysing effect, one that leaks ineffectuality into other areas. We were made an offer last week that came with the promise of proof of funding. The missive was meant to arrive on Monday, it’s now Thursday. The potential purchasers who volunteered the said letter are delightful – in fact they’re just the sort of people you would want to buy your property. They get it; understand it; love it in fact – as they should in this case for it is a stunning home. And we’ve bonded. On the second viewing we went through the costs, the options for minor reconfigurations in the children’s bedrooms, all while admiring the flat’s view and spending some very pleasant hours together. We talked decorators, designers, football, private jets, air-conditioning units, palaces on Lake Geneva. I was always careful, however, to guide the conversation back to the flat.

I believe the letter will appear. When it does, we can put the solicitors in touch and get the ball rolling as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, every day it is promised and doesn’t arrive a little part of my optimism fades. In the case of this particular property I feel an enormous responsibility as the client is not just a client but a friend, a good friend. It is the property I spend most work-external hours thinking about, contemplating strategy and plotting the path to secure not just any buyer but the right buyer. You should never, I know all too well, count on anything until an exchange of contracts, but it is human nature. Especially when seemingly decent and refreshingly straightforward people tempt you to hope that they are what they seem.

“Thank goodness you did that meditation course last weekend,” my new partner says. And it is true; I’m in the honeymoon period of meditation and may it only blossom into a true and deep love. The simple fact of sitting still, upright, with eyes closed, twice a day for 20 minutes is an unusual and potent experience. I struggle with it at times, for in the urban existence I’m a part of, every second must be accountable. Walking to work on a sunny autumnal day, I don’t enjoy the changing foliage of Holland Park. Instead I see this 15-minute trot as a period of time that should be dedicated to making phone calls, sending e-mails, getting on. I think it was the Dalai Lama who said we’re not human doings, we’re human beings. While inertia has taken grip this week, I’ve again realised the issue of timing – in all aspects of life. On a very perfunctory level, the difficulty of gaining access to one of the properties we’re selling has slapped that notion into reality. This property is “fully loaded”, as an American friend of mine would say – 24-hour concierge, underground parking, Crestron automated control systems, plasmas galore (of course) and blinds that operate automatically in response to the sun. This mistress of modern convenience finds itself in London’s fashionable Chelsea and offers more than 4,000 sq ft of lateral living with a large west-facing balcony. So far, so perfect for the discerning buyer who expects such things from a flat.
. . .
The only problem is that I’m holding four potential buyers at bay. They span the expected nationalities at this super-prime end of the market – an Indian, a Ukrainian, a Russian and a Saudi. The times when I can show the flat (when my client is abroad) have unfortunately never coincided with the times that these potential purchasers are in the country. For, whatever its size, this property was never destined to be a primary residence but a London bolt-hole. And, as so often with love and professional opportunities, I’m rather dependent on timings working in my favour. Will I ever get the four clients who could actually buy into this whizbang flat?

I’m distracted from these riddles by an impromptu trip to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, with a friend. We see Verdi’s Rigoletto and my friend, an opera buff, keeps me informed of the plot. The Duke, he informs me, is a “rotter” – a word I adore but one I associate more with PG Wodehouse than with the present day. The opera is a happy distraction but my thoughts return to work on the taxi-ride home. Another day and another promise of proof of funds unfulfilled … Are these buyers for real, fantasists or simply rotters? As I pay the cabbie, I remind myself: we are not human doings, we are human beings.

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