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  1. Wealth
February 6, 2013

Can vendors bear to hear the truth?

By Spear's

The solution is to lower the price of her own house but like most owners she sees only its merit and none of its faults

‘We appear to be at an impasse,’ I say. We’ve found a Holland Park flat for a client and she’s fallen for it. It’s one of those rare properties, in a super-prime global market with an increasingly generic look that’s bland and attempting to be urbane, that could only be found in London.

The building is handsome and white stucco; Victorian and purpose-built with none of the density displayed by its red-brick brothers. The flat itself is a first floor lateral (off-market) with ceiling heights of 11 feet, overlooking communal gardens to which there is direct access from the building.

It has been decorated in a style of country gentry rather than granite slick and the proportions, aspect and area suit the look. But here’s the glitch – my client would prefer to sell her own ‘cottage’ in Chelsea before buying. She doesn’t need to but would be pushed not to. Her worth – without meaning to sound crude – just reaches ten, rather than hundreds of, million.

Our clients tend not to use such pedestrian expressions as ‘property chains’ but it’s becoming increasingly frequent for them to face the chicken and egg scenario that most other mortals encounter when buying and selling property.

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It’s a dance that needs to be finessed with the elegance of Anton du Beke as you place your own property on the market while starting the search for an up or down size. The dream scenario is the seamless transition – but this requires good fortune and skilled negotiation. The client has yet to receive an offer on her Chelsea house and I fear the price is… how shall I phrase it… gutsy.

I’m anxious that she doesn’t lose the Holland Park gem but don’t want to push her – it’s a delicate balance. The solution is to lower the price of her own house but like most owners she sees only its merit and none of its faults. Knowing that I’m tempted to offer the banal truism that we should let fate decide but fear it may not go down very well.

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Instead, when she calls I say, ‘We’ll do everything we can to make sure you get the flat.’ This is true.

‘What can we do though? They do know I really want it.’

‘I’ve made them very aware of it.’

‘I couldn’t bear it if it went to someone else.’

I decide that I must bite the bullet: she may not want to hear it but sometimes the truth must be told: ‘Have you considered a price reduction on your house?’ There is a silence. ‘It could get things moving,’ I add.

The silence remains though I’m determined not to fill it. This could turn out to be our very own impasse.

Read more from Sebastian Gibson

Read more from Wealth Wednesday

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