Our long history with the mega house continues. It’s been on (though half-heartedly), off, the price has fluctuated, or rather escalated, the offers have appeared but never quite in time or quite enough. It’s been, what I think is described in reality TV show terms – the type where the overweight child loses 100 pounds and learns to love himself – a journey. We’re now inching into a terrain that makes a sale look as likely as it’s ever been; relatively slim therefore but the stakes and commission are high so slim chances can’t be ignored. Our client, based in Switzerland, has a certain – how shall I put it – mercurial quality meaning what he says today may not always stand tomorrow.
There are two interested parties, both from newly wealthy states: fuelled by oil and gas. I’ve been dealing with the rather unconventional requests that have been made by their ‘representatitves’. One party has asked for a considerable baksheesh – not of the kind that relates to a percentage or our small percent but rather one that hits the seven-figure mark. Challenging.
A third and new party entered the negotiations late in our negotiations. I received a call from an agent in Dubai and was wowed with a glittering list of their royal contacts. I tried to keep up via google as the names poured forth unashamedly. I was tempted to say, ‘please, you need to drop one royal at a time, not dazzle me with a complete flush’. I was then advised that it would be in my interest to ensure that I concluded a swift sale at their desired price to the royal party in question. When I pointed out that the decision was not mine, I was simply a filter presenting the offer to my client I was met with barely disguised skepticism. I didn’t want to protest that it was the truth too forcefully but repeated calmly that the decision lay not with me but with the owner of the property. As is normal. There was something slightly sinister in his tone – a whiff of threat that rather alarmed me. It may have been the bad line to Dubai that created this sinister effect or his ominous, ‘my clients will be very disappointed if they don’t acquire this property.’ It may simply be that I’m overly paranoid due to my addiction to the TV series ‘Homeland.’ Do people bother with international espionage over a large Belgravia house? I hope not. But there are those who are used to getting what they want and in certain of these countries the ruling families take droit du seigneur rather seriously.
We shall see how the saga pans out. In the meantime we’ve completed on a charming house for a French client in a pocket of Kensington that’s so distinctly idiosyncratic that it couldn’t be anywhere else. I’ve always loved this particular pedestrian street where people sit in their paved gardens during a summers or spring evening and have a supper of salads. It always seems they are made happy by simply eating outside. The sums involved seemed rather paltry compared to the mega house deal but the pleasure the easy, charming and agreeable client has expressed made it the exact sort of commission that GG and I love to undertake.
And so another day breaks in London – it’s cold and crisp but the sun shines and negotiations continue with the mega house. I’m feeling strangely optimistic for no good reason but that today seems like it will be a good one.