There’s just nothing in estate agents’ windows. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing for sale; just that there’s nothing overtly being sold. It ’s at times like this that you have to go out and hunt.
And, personally, I feel that it ’s always good to do it your own way. Not only is it nourishment for the old self-esteem, it also reminds you that there are alternative routes to your destination, especially when the powers that be would have you believe otherwise.
An example: Llanidloes is a small, mid-Wales market town, a little too far down the coast road for most tastes, perhaps, but an interesting, youthful, artistic place nevertheless. Certainly, when I showed my sister around, she fell in love with it completely. My sister, see, had unwittingly ended up residing in some seaside backwater in Cleveland and wanted out.
Llanidloes was the perfect solution: a good, thriving town, as close to her family and friends as it was to the sea, just in case family and friends suddenly seemed too close. Herein lay the problem. So universally desirable is Llanidloes deemed to be that a subsequent tour of local estate agents on behalf of my sister proved entirely fruitless. “Absolutely nothing doing,” they all said in a flurry of dust and cobwebs, although they promised to call me if ever there was, before promptly falling back to sleep.
Weeks passed. Silence. My sister and I tried in vain to formulate ‘Plan B’, when suddenly, out of the blue, the telephone rang. It was an estate agent with that glorious invitation to view! Unfortunately, what sounded on the phone like a cosy, quaint little terrace turned out to be pokey, decrepid and understandably empty. At £55,000, it also seemed a little on the steep side for what it was. Back to the drawing board.
At this point ‘Plan B’ loomed out of the darkness as plain as day. I’d heard stories of property entrepreneurs press ganging those pockets of local resistance which prevent them from acquiring entire streets. Of course, my sister and I had neither the aggressive desire, nor the budget to buy the whole of Llanidloes. Just one modest house for her and her coterie of animals would do. I also wanted to be civilised about the whole business, so I sat down and wrote a letter. In the letter I apologised for the unsolicited intrusion, but explained my sister’s dilemma and how nothing had come of my dealings with all the local estate agents. I outlined ‘Plan B’; how I was now approaching home-owners directly, to see if they wished to sell their house, either now or in the near future. I have “approached you,” I boldly stated, “because your property is the kind that we would wish to buy.” So far, so good. At this point I played my ace card and explained the advantages of selling directly to us. Namely, that we would pay more than the market value of the property, in cash, so that no mortgage was necessary. As there was no ‘chain’ to consider, my sister would be able to move in immediately, meaning completion in as little as two weeks. I also explained that because I lived locally, I could view property straight away. The icing on the cake was my reminder that there would be no estate agents involved and, consequently, no fees for the vendor to pay. Here’s the letter in its entirety, which you are free to copy:
The House Owner Dear Sir/Madam,
Please forgive this unsolicited intrusion, but my family and I are searching for a house in Llanidloes for my sister, who’s moving to the area.
There seems to be nothing available in the estate agents’ windows, and so we thought that we would try asking home-owners directly if they wished to sell their house, either now or in the near future. We’ve approached you because your property is the kind that we would wish to buy.
The advantages in selling to us would be:
- We will pay more than the market value of your property
- We will pay in cash – no mortgage necessary
- There is no ‘chain’ to consider
- Thus, we can move quickly – completion in as little as two weeks
- We are local and can call to see you immediately
- You would not have to pay estate agent’s fees
Therefore, if you are considering selling your property shortly, please bear us in mind and call to chat at any time. Or, if you know of someone who owns a property similar to yours who is thinking of selling, then we would appreciate it if you would be so kind as to pass on this letter.
Again, apologies for the intrusion and unusualness of this request, but it’s the only way we can think of to find a suitable property for my sister in Llanidloes.
Thanks and best regards,
Something in my bones told me this would be a winner (or perhaps that ’s just me getting older); I just had a feeling about it. The recipient of each letter would feel hand-picked and so good about their property that, if my letter was read with even a hint of restlessness, I felt certain I’d be the first to know. I printed off 75 of these letters, signed each one and placed in envelopes inscribed “For The Home-Owner”. These were then trundled round the town on foot and slotted through the letterboxes of suitable-looking properties. And, lo and behold, a few days after my mail-out I received another phone call. A lovely, trustworthy guy was looking for a swift, no-nonsense sale of a house that transpired to fit the bill completely. He was getting married and it was surplus to requirements. I viewed, we did a deal there and then (very reasonable, actually, and possibly a bit of a bargain – thought I won’t got on about it).
Indeed, so effective was the whole procedure that two weeks down the line the decorators are in preparing for my sister to be installed. Only time will tell if her family is in fact too close for comfort.
In areas of high demand and short supply, you should try this yourself. Write a nice letter, either do it yourself or have someone distribute round the area, sit back and handle the calls. It will work, because it ’s worked for me and very few people actually do it. But it ’s logical, when you think about it. It ’s just not very … British. So what?