Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Cut & Run or Wait & Hope? The pre-election question.

They say you make your own luck.

Well, if that is the case, then it's something I've never quite mastered.

I'm the ad man who won the life-changing, multi-million pound Fosters beer account one day...only to lose it the next because of some bizarre corporate politics.

I'm the creative guy who picked up the iconic boo.com business just a few weeks before the whole dotcom world (and boo) crashed spectacularly.

Even when I tried my hand at being a buying agent, I worked 12 months on a €25m deal only to lose it because the seller changed his mind on the day he was going to sign.

So what the hell did I expect when I got involved in doing-up property. That suddenly I'd know how to make my own luck.

No chance.

We managed to hit the market with our latest project just as Prime Central London hit the buffers.

It's still on the market after almost 4 months. Still getting positive viewings. But still not attracting an offer worth seriously considering.

It's the sort of situation (a bit like the Fosters beer fiasco) that makes you question everything.

Is the market really this bad? Are we asking way too much? Did I configure and style the house wrongly?

What makes it worse is that we could have sold this project for £2m over a year ago....without even doing it up. Why the hell didn't we?

And if we hadn't wasted time almost selling it as a wreck, we'd have been on the market months earlier when demand and prices were at their peak.

IF ONLY.....it could be the perfect epitaph to my life as a doer-upper.

We are where we are, however. And we have to make a difficult decision.

Do we to cut the price substantially and trust that this will flush out some quick buyers? Or hold our nerve through the upcoming election and hope that Cameron wins?

Some argue that an end to the uncertainty of a general election is enough to kick start a London market revival. Whoever wins. But with the bitter and twisted Scottish threatening to hold the country to ransom in the event of a hung parliament, the biggest worry is that nobody wins a majority.

Obviously I've asked our agents what they think.

They know how keen we are to sell, and I can't fault their efforts or their advice. The feedback from viewings has always been very detailed, very prompt and very honest. There's been some terrific PR. The team have been proactive and attentive.

But we both know that the house is, as they say, 'fully' priced.

We both believe, however, that the street and the house itself justify a slight premium. It's still £1m LESS than any other house or decent flat on the street (it is though somewhat smaller).

When it launched, I think we all believed that someone would walk in and fall in love with the property and its location...and just have to have it.

Whether it's the market, the price, the threat of a mansion tax or the way the house is configured, this simply hasn't happened.

So. Now what?

It's a gamble either way.

If we cut now, and things don't go to plan we may be forced to cut again after the election.

But if we wait until there's a new government, who knows what will happen.

Interestingly, the market feels less negative now than even a few weeks ago. Overseas buyers seem less obsessed with a mansion tax than UK buyers. And even the Euro collapse hasn't stopped the French, Italians, Greeks and Spanish looking to move.

London seems to be holding its appeal.

It's just that in a poor market buyers think they can demand and get massive discounts.

We have one persistent overseas buyer, for example, who is 'stuck' on a figure that's about £200k below our minimum.

Another buyer seemed to get excited too, until he realised we weren't going to give the house away.

One issue is that when buyers check the previous sold price for the property it looks as though we bought it for around £500k only a couple of years ago.

I wish we had. But this was just to buy the freehold. We also had to acquire a much more expensive leasehold...and then rebuild the house from its foundations to its roof.

All too often we've been cajoled or frightened into selling something below its real value. And so this time I think we'll hang on and see what happens.

Knowing my luck, of course, that's almost certainly the wrong decision and Alex Salmond will be running the country in a few weeks time.