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Great expectations can be a dickens of a problem

Great Expectations was a fantastic novel-cum-social-history written by Charles Dickens, who once lived in my adopted home city of Portsmouth.

But these days great expectations among property buyers can be something of a problem.

Take the case of a potential buyer who came in asking to a view a property registered with me with a guide price of £525,000, which I see as somewhere around its true value.

At first she offered £510,000, then £515,000, before settling at £520,000. With her own house unsold, however, I pointed out that she could not realistically make an offer that my vendor would accept. That’s how it turned out.

But she was not to be deterred. She consulted the agent handling her house sale, who had quite possibly overvalued it, who knows? 

He suggested that to facilitate her sale, a price reduction of £30,000 should make life easier. He said it wouldn’t involve her suffering any financial pain. She could simply tell the person she was buying off to do the same!

Needless to say, when she came back with this wonderful piece of news my vendor politely declined. She was puzzled because to her it seemed straightforward. Everyone takes a £30,000 hit on her behalf, a solution that left her in exactly the same place.

She could not see that somewhere else along the line, assuming everyone played the game, one person would be £30,000 short-changed. As long as it wasn’t her, there couldn’t possibly be a problem!

I blame the agent who gave her ‘Great Expectations’. I didn’t want to be too hard on her but suggested she went back to give ‘Our Mutual Friend’ some ‘Hard Times’ and maybe pass on some instruction to help him because by the time the weekend came around he’d be facing ‘A Sunday Under Three Heads’ – all of them aching like mad because his business was heading somewhere towards the ‘Frozen Deep’ as he faced up to ‘The Battle of Life’.

In the meantime, agents who overvalue and practice the kidology of price reductions being a medicine to be swallowed by innocents on a client’s behalf should get a more realistic take on life in the property sector instead of expecting colleagues in other firms to deliver the bad news for them.

*Colin Shairp is Director of Fine and Country Southern Hampshire

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