Taking pity on my hapless efforts to find myself a new home (and perhaps secretly alarmed to see me constantly whining about it on these pages), the esteemed editor of this website has pointed me in the direction of a London property finder. This eminently useful service screens on your behalf a selection of homes for sale?some of which haven’t even come to the open market?and only shows you the two or three that really fit your requirements.

Considering that the mould growing on the walls of one of the last flats I viewed is still vividly etched in my memory, I was sorely tempted to follow Miss Youens’ advice and resort to a finding service that could spare me similar sights in the future. However, these property finding people have the understandable, if somewhat annoying habit of wanting to be paid for their services. And although their fees are modest?particularly when you compare it with the occupational hazard that is viewing some less than kempt London homes?I have one more card left to play before I part with my cash. It’s called Penny Churchill.

Mrs Churchill, who is Country Life’s property correspondent, has a knack for sifting through the property chaff to unveil the true gems. In a feature for the newly published Country Life International , for example, she debunks the hype behind miracle exotic locations?places like Thailand or Lebanon, which promise gazillion-digit capital appreciation?and recommends instead choosing popular resorts in established destinations, because they are a much safer investment opportunity.

She has done all the legwork, testing dozens of overseas developments against multiple criteria, ranging from security to rental potential, to identify the top ten property purchases across Europe. All lucky buyers have left to do now is jet to places like St Endreol, in France, Sotogrande, in Spain, or Castello di Reschio, in Italy, to find which one suits them best. So, you see, I have no need to invest in a property finder. I only have to bribe La Churchill into researching the top ten London buys (and disclosing her findings to me long before the magazine goes to press, of course).