Property Blog: On Agents and Optimism

For the third week running, my flatmate and I have to ensure the house is absolutely spick and span before leaving for work in the morning. The landlord has, apparently, been told by his agent that the place is worth an awful lot of money, and has convinced him to try and sell up.

This was nearly three weeks ago, and meanwhile I and my flatmate are finding it increasingly challenging to live in what amounts to a show home, where any kind of entertaining, or cooking, or merely drying one’s washing has to be carried out with the ensuing cleaning up in mind.

Most Saturday mornings are spent hiding in the swimming pool, leaving the premises free to the armies of couples who snoop around our bedrooms and examine our belongings – not to mention the underwear drying in the hallway.

All of which is par for the course: the landlord wants to sell, my flatmate is shacking up with her boyfriend, and I am looking for a bolthole for a few months while I sort out buying myself. Hell, I’d buy this place in a jiffy – if it weren’t just a little beyond my price range.

But come to think of it, would I? Why doesn’t anyone else? What is stopping people from making the offer which would give the landlord peace of mind, and us, the tenants, our privacy back?

At the beginning I was inclined to sabotage the entire project by leaving notes out for any daytime visitors detailing the problems we’ve had in the flat. As it turns out I didn’t need to bother: even without access to this insider information, people just aren’t biting.

Maybe it is the constant clatter of the JCBs outside as the nearby football stadium is demolished; maybe it’s the fact the flat, which is basically sound, do undeniably need some cosmetic work. Maybe it’s the lack of amenities less than five minutes by foot. Maybe my area of north London is no longer as fashionable as once it was?

Or maybe, just maybe, the place is overpriced? Agents often encourage landlords to make a quick sale, and I know the owners are keen to get hold of the money so they can continue their own project up the road. There has been much talk recently of price rises in London outstripping the rest of the country again, and not just at the top end: maybe it was this which fuelled all the talk of grand riches for the sale of the place?

It may be an indication that the London market isn’t what it was in the summer: It seems there are an awful lot of places on the market at the moment and not as many people looking as there were last month.

Either way, I hope some kind of conclusion is reached relatively soon. I don’t think I can keep things so super-tidy for very much longer, and if I revert to my default setting of ‘utter mess’ then the agents may not even get half of what they’re asking at the moment.