This was not the first question of this nature, it was the eighty-seventh, and we’d jumped through hoops for these potential buyers
‘We need the exact schedule and a breakdown of the future provisional costs for the drain maintenance.’ I wanted to respond with, ‘Are you kidding me?’
With a choice expletive slotted in between the ‘you’ and the ‘kidding’.
This was not the first question of this nature, it was the eighty-seventh, and we’d jumped through hoops for these potential buyers, providing all the answers for what have been trivial and largely irrelevant question.
The minutiae to which they’d resorted had pushed me to boiling point and my normally calm demeanour was ready to explode. They’ve yet to actually offer and this whole pre-negotiation tactic has begun to look like prevarication or, worse, what the Texans describe as a case of ‘big hat no cattle’ – meaning, hot air.
I understand due diligence but did they really need to know the exact month the parquet floors were laid in 1998?
THE REQUEST FOR extraneous detail reminded me of a line in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, the Muriel Spark novel about an inspiring Scottish schoolteacher to girls of ‘an impressionable age’ set in the Thirties and adapted into a film in the late Sixties.
Miss Brodie (brilliantly portrayed with an Oscar-winning Edinburgh accent by Maggie Smith) is summoned to the headmistress’s office to justify her unconventional teaching methods. Miss MacKay (the headmistress in question) requests the meeting for 3.45pm to which Miss Brodie responds, ‘If Miss MacKay means to intimidate me by the use of quarter of hours she has underestimated me.’
On entering Miss MacKay’s office on the dot, ‘neither a minute too early nor late’, she turns to a vase in the corner and comments, ‘Chrysanthemums, such a serviceable flower.’
I’m rather inclined to say to this potential buyer’s agent, ‘If you mean to batter me down and reduce the price of this flat by your inexhaustible pedantry and thirst for irrelevant details you will not succeed.’
Instead, I give them the relevant information, with an accompanying email that reads, ‘We are now expecting an offer.’
IT'S RARE THAT I have to remind myself that we’re acting in the interest of the client as normally it comes as second nature but in this case I must resist the temptation to tell these potential buyers that we’re no longer interested in hearing from them.
On the other hand it could be a good negotiation method – as soon as you’re told you can’t have something, you want it: when someone is bending over backwards to accommodate you, you take it for granted.
It’s human nature, in personal and professional relationships. This gives me something to ponder and I realise rather than writing this theory down, it’s time to call my client and suggest this as our new selling tactic – exclusively reserved for this potential buyer.