Tuesday, 1 December 2015

My latest visit to a parallel universe: The free property magazine.

A hefty thud on the doormat signalled the arrival of yet another glossy, free property mag.

This one was the 'original' London Magazine. But it could have been The Resident (countless area versions) or Absolutely Kensington (also available in endless slightly different versions).

Flicking through the December issue is the usual bizarre experience. Like entering a parallel universe where everyone's a Euromillions rollover winner.

The first property advertised is in Highgate and £14m. There's something hideous south of the river for north of £8m. And then Phillimore Gardens (£17m), Chelsea Square (£18.995m), a W14 flat (£13.5m), Lyall Street (£15.95m).

By now I'm only halfway through the magazine.

I've skipped over the 'low-end' £5m houses, and some pretty boring looking £7-8m ones. Hardly worth the bother when just over the page there's a £16m mansion in W11. Or a £12m house virtually next door to the office where I had my own ad agency in Weymouth St, W1.

After a while, I can take no more of this extreme property porn and flick back to the editorial for a break.

Interior designers you've never heard of show us their homes, the super-rich show us their wine cellars, there are children's toys for Christmas priced at up to £20,000, and a guide to dumping your bonus in St James's....you get the picture.

As the person once responsible for re-launching Harvey Nichols, I am not averse to luxury goods and spending money.

But this world of ultra-excess is just unreal.  Who are all these people that can afford £10m or more on a house? OK, I've met a few people who've made serious amounts of money. Some could certainly afford something like this. Not many, however.

Yet London is awash with homes at these astronomical prices.

Even more ridiculous is the idea that someone is sitting around somewhere searching through magazines for a £17m house.

Anyone with that kind of money is far too busy to waste time studying The London Magazine, or indeed waste time looking for a house themselves. They'd have people looking for them.

Just like they have people walking their dog, picking up their kids from school, reserving a table at Sexy Fish or keeping the Range Rover ticking over outside.

So why are all these agents wasting their money on glossy ads in these waste-bin mags?

They'll tell you that it's really about marketing themselves to potential sellers. You or I see they have homes like ours to sell...so we think they'd be right for us.

Well, maybe. But it still seems a pretty roundabout and expensive way to go about it.

Especially when they're also wasting their money by putting properties on OTM (onthemarket.com) where virtually nobody will see them.

Hey, ho. What do I know? It's all a parallel universe to me.


nb: I've just been reminded that in fact The London Magazine is owned by a group of agents who are therefore contracted to advertise in it. Agents also, of course, own OnTheMarket. Perhaps they should stick to what they're good at - being agents.

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