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  1. Wealth
April 3, 2013

In property, as in life, timing is everything

By Spear's

We have a client ’ impossibly rich ’ his wealth stretching to such a sphere that it becomes incomprehensible to those merely made comfortable by money

Timing, timing, timing: it’s such a crucial factor. There’s the random kind, the accidental occurrence – bumping into the right person at the right time – and then there’s the more considered time-related action.

We’re currently acting on behalf of a couple who had carefully mapped out a time plan. They stretched their finances to buy their house twenty-five years ago, raised their family in it and have seen it rise in value. It’s outstripped inflation, stocks and shares, commodities and just about anything else they could have put their money in and hence they’ve held onto it – perhaps longer than their initial plan would have dictated.

Now, finally, the stairs are becoming tiresome and they crave what every buyer in the London market seems to desire – lateral space. Their children are heading towards their thirties and they’ve realized the impossibility of them getting onto the property ladder unless they release some of the capital from the asset they are living in. And there are that additional fears of a mansion tax being imposed; while nobody suspects that Mr. Milliband will do a ‘Hollande’ if he gets in next time round, he may come close.

The other kind of timing is more random; it’s whimsical and rests on fate and mood. We have a client – impossibly rich – his wealth stretching to such a sphere that it becomes incomprehensible to those merely made comfortable by money.

He buys houses and flats with the same casual indifference that we’d offer to buy a friend a cappuccino. He’s owned a house in one of London’s most expensive areas for close to ten years. Normal enough. But what isn’t so normal is that he’s spent – in total – twenty minutes in the house. It remains, as it as when he bought it, empty. He indicated a couple of years ago that he may sell but the price was so astronomical that I knew we wouldn’t have much chance.

As time ticked on the market caught up with the exultant figure and, just last week, with some dexterous manoeuvring and skillful negotiation we found a buyer. Now, he’s not sure he wants to sell. Despite the £140,000 annual tax that he’s now liable for (as the property is worth more than £2 million and owned in a company name) he seems unimpressed by the figure offered (that he set). I know it’s all about getting him in the right mood, and that may not necessarily be a good one, but just one in which he may feel £50 million will come in useful elsewhere.

It’s an age-old story that doesn’t just apply to property – it applies to life: timing, and the randomness of it, can be our friend, our enemy. It can forge or break relationships, cause success or failure in business or steer us to unexpected possibilities. We can’t control it but we can try to make the best of it.

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