WHEN DID ESTATE AGENTS TURN INTO ESTAGE AGENTS
Well I am still getting ahead of myself as the last time I mentioned the house I was just about to put it on the market. So even though you are expecting to read about the auction you will have to bear with me and read about estate agents.
Now I know that I haven’t sold a property for twenty five years, but let's face it, I worked as an estate agent for a while. I knew lots of them and they were all nice folk. Okay, there was the odd rogue but most were really genuine people, and nearly all had a proper professional qualification, or were working hard to get one. They were type you could talk to sensibly and who worked hard to get your house on the market and sold – and it was not always easy to sell property in the “old days” either.
Are you old enough to remember when you had to put a 25% deposit down on any property and also had to prove to the Building Societies, which were still functioning as genuine friendly societies, that you had been a good reliable and regular saver with them for a number of years before they would even consider you for a mortgage?
What on earth has happened to the estate agency “profession” since then? I had a few to visit but couldn't really say I hit it off with many of them, and as I progress through life I find it infinitely preferable to be surrounded by people you get on well with - it just makes life so much more pleasant. Eventually I settled on what seemed a good old fashioned firm, all of the personnel that I met seemed pleasant and reliable so the decision was made.
I found out later that they were right in the middle of selling out to a firm of city centre flat-letting agents who were seeking to expand and upgrade, and having known that I think I may have made a different choice, but off we went, though not at with what I would call any urgency
An appointment was made for photographs to be taken and as they did some auctioneering as well I mooted the idea of an onsite auction of contents, so the morning was to be spent photographing and measuring the house and discussing the sale of the contents. Four of them turned up and two set off - I thought to measure and photograph, whilst I showed the other two round for the proposed auction. At about lunchtime everyone left and I thought the show was on the road so to speak.
All went quiet whilst I fondly imagined them preparing particulars and organizing how the auction was to be held. After a few days later I phoned to check when the property would hit the internet – Oh well – we need to measure and get some photos.
What! ..........As I said at the beginning – when did estate agents turn into estate agents.
Now I won't go on whinging too, too much other than to say that - and bear in mind my house has a huge library and a 45ft long dining room, as well as a massive drawing room, 30ft sitting room, lovely morning room and big living kitchen room a couple of acres of ornamental gardens and far reaching view to the Brecon Beacons - and I know that mobile phones can take some good pictures, but when I say the main photo used for the house brochure still had my mobility scooter parked right outside it, and the picture put into the local rag – hardly the best place to market the property – was about a quarter the size of a small postcard! So, sadly, we had to part company.
By then I had paid for my own professional photographs and got the EPC sorted so the new firm didn’t have to do anything of that as all the plans and measurements came with the EPC, but it still took several weeks to get the details up on their website, a job I could have done in an hour or two or the morning at the very most. And I dread to think what their bill will come to. Interestingly when tidying things away I found some old papers the estate agents fees for the sale of a previous house of mine, including advertising and vat were under £200 !!!
Anyway it finally hit the internet on Saturday afternoon of the weekend after the August bank holiday. Great sigh of relief from me who had been at this since June by now. Monday morning they had an enquiry for a viewing. The viewing took place on the Monday afternoon, and Tuesday morning the prospective purchasers put in an offer. I certainly wasn’t happy with it but they were cash purchasers with no property to sell and I wanted to get on with my life. I may write more when this entire episode is signed and sealed, but for the moment suffice it to say they wanted a completion date of 28th October which gave me six weeks and and a day sell everything, pack what I wanted to keep, and turn the key in the door of the house and be gone - oh and choose and buy my potential home on wheels.
Now I had only just finished sorting out the house to change it from a comfortable and relaxed place to live to somewhere I thought might be appealing to potential purchasers. Which had involved packing away those normal accoutrements to living and which actually turn a house into a home. And also I had finished off those endless little bits and bobs one has been intending to complete for years.
As an aside - I think selling a house is rather like selling a car. You drive around in your car, with sweet papers and old petrol receipts in odd places, and a good film of mud and dust on the paintwork and four inches of crud in the wheel arches. When you decide to sell it you give the inside a thorough vacuum, feed the leather upholstery, clean the windows and polish the paintwork to a high shine. Stand back, and wonder why you need to change the car at all.
Anyway I did definitely want to move out no matter how lovely the house now looked in the early autumn with the beautiful leaf colour of the trees in bright relief against the clear blue of the skies. And those days we on the Herefordshire Worcestershire borders call “Hop Picking Mornings” when the day starts shrouded in a cold, thick mist which gradually lifts from the hills, leaving grey pools and lakes in the valleys until the heat of the sun burns it all away to a hot sunny afternoon ready for a clear frosty night.
My garden had been lovingly planned from scratch by me for year round interest and many of the trees and shrubs were chosen for their glorious autumn tints, the huge autumn crocus were still in flower, cyclamen peeped through the early falling leaves of the silver birch glade, the sweet chestnut avenue was a glorious stretch of bright golden yellow and laden with fruit, and the nerines and asters lent a wonderful clashing pink contrast to the whole effect. Okay - the garden I have spent twenty five years of my life creating may be a wrench to leave, but just think I can go round all the National Trust gardens I have never had time to see. What about Inverewe gardens by Loch Ewe – I could see those on my northern travels. And those wonderful gardens in the Italian lakes. So enough of maudlin backward looking thoughts......
After the first firm of agents had turned out to be a bit of a wet weekend I had contacted a few other local auctioneers with a view to a total sale of the house contents, and garden and farming equipment, but most wanted to remove the goods to their salerooms, and I felt that an on site auction at least had the potential of being interesting and and that my twenty five years here would end on a big of a bang rather than a whimper and my mind was set on going down that route.
I had briefly considered if I could do it myself with the help of the excellent gardener and builder and various folk who have helped me out round the place over the years, and possibly if the time scale hadn’t been so tight I would have had a go, but when someone highly recommended a local auctioneers who were equipped to conduct an onsite auction with the facility to have online bidding as well I got in touch, and asked them to call out to look at what was involved, and the arrangement was made for the younger partner to call and assess what was involved.
So now we can go onto.........