Country houses for sale

Moving presents from estate agents

The day I picked the keys up to my first flat, I had to wedge a foot in the door of the agency to wait for an envelope with my (misspelt) name to be handed to me by a rather surly lady who was in a hurry to head home. Without a whiff of ceremony, I left the office and cycled to the flat for an apprehensive post-purchase inspection. Fortunately, there are agents out there who recognise the value of the future relationship between themselves and the buyer and who go to great lengths to start it off on the right foot.

Charles Puxley from the Chelsea office of Jackson-Stops & Staff is one. ‘I believe moving-in presents are a sign of goodwill and likely to improve the standing of estate agents and also retain a good relationship with the buyer who, at a later date, might want to sell their property. They have bought the house through us, and we want them to be happy with their purchase and a house-warming present sets this in motion.’

Strutt & Parker give trees to their clients and have three types to choose from. ‘The standard lavender is recommended for our London buyers as it only has a height and spread of 2ft and so it’s perfect for small gardens or in a container on a balcony. The strawberry tree is more suitable for country houses as it can spread over an area of 3ft by 3ft in 10 years. Also, it looks good all year round, so we recommend that this is sent outside the summer months, when other trees are looking a little bare. We also send out crab-apple trees,’ explains Rachel Dipper, the company’s marketing manager.

John D. Wood & Co provide a welcome pack for all their buyers made up of two bone-china mugs that says ‘For your proper tea’, a pen, key ring and a tea towel. Chesterton Humberts also offer a ‘starter pack’, which includes essentials that might prove vital to get through the first night in the new house: a kitchen roll, a loo roll, coffee, tea, long-life milk and biscuits.

On key pick-up day, London agents Douglas & Gordon give a cold bottle of Bollinger Champagne wrapped in a cooler casing to the buyer and they follow this up with a ‘homemove box’ on moving day, which goes a little further than the ones already mentioned to cover first-day emergency items such as washing-up liquid, washing-machine tablets and a lightbulb. They also offer automatic
membership to the Keyholding Company-a barcoded key ring can be posted if the keys get lost and they’ll be returned to the owner.

With Knight Frank, the moving-in presents change from office to office and house to house, but they range from sapling trees delivered in a box, which arrive the day after moving in, flowers or Champagne, and boxes of pre-printed change-of-address postcards.

Savills also haven’t committed to an agency-wide approach and it depends from office to office, with the London offices tending to send a bottle of Champagne and a scented candle and the country offices opting for Champagne with a hamper full of locally sourced jams and cheeses.

On completion, Jackson-Stops & Staff South-East offices (Sevenoaks, Cranbrook, Tunbridge Wells and Oxted) present their buyers and vendors with original pen-and-ink drawings of the property, which are commissioned at the time of exchange and drawn by Will Taylor, a local artist. The Chichester office gives a bottle of JSS Champagne, a silver-plated Champagne bottle stopper and flowers.

In London, their Chelsea office will deliver a magnum of Veuve Clicquot or a case of Champagne, and, for the very expensive houses, an embossed visitors’ book.