How to live well
Health, wealth and happiness on our stretch of the Thames
David Cantell on why
putting the heart into
estate agency counts.
When I started as an estate agent fifteen years ago, I realised very quickly that selling property is far more about people than it is about sales.
Selling or buying is always stressful and sometimes I am part therapist, part school researcher, amateur architect and sometimes even marriage counsellor. Throw into the mix the high value, the antiquated conveyancing process – leading to uncertainty until exchange - and it is easy to see why emotions can run high.
One of my most poignant moves was with a lovely lady of advancing years. We first heard about Victoria when a neighbour posted on a community email that she needed to swap her house for a ground floor apartment, because she had a debilitating condition. We knew it was a long shot but we wanted to help.
We formally valued her house and we became quite friendly; eating out together and sampling her wonderful cooking. We got to know her quite well. Victoria was great fun, despite tragic and challenging circumstances. Her first husband died suddenly, her daughter was ill and her lovely second husband was in a home after a stroke. Yet, despite her own degenerative condition and a daily struggle with the stairs, she wanted to wait for her husband to pass away before selling.
One evening over wine and nibbles, she told us about a fabulous apartment she wanted to view on the river. It was all systems go. My wife and Victoria visited the property. We found a buyer interested in her home and the offer on the dream apartment was accepted. Victoria couldn’t quite believe that for once, life was working out in her favour.
Then one Sunday Victoria called us – her daughter had been found dead by the local police. She was devastated. At the funeral I calculated that her daughter was my age; the realisation hit me hard. It may be cliché, but a tragedy like that puts everything into perspective. She needed our total support in order to move and start living in a home that would at least reduce the stress of dealing with her own illness. The problem of the stairs became even more important to her and therefore to us. With every hurdle in the selling and buying process, I began to realise that this was the most important move I had ever handled.
We did get the deal across the line and she moved into her perfect apartment with a beautiful river view. She still sends us jokes and stories on email.
Moving home is always an emotional process but very few transactions meant as much to me as this one. Victoria is one of the bravest people I have ever met and it was a privilege to be her estate agent.
©RiverTribe Magazine 2017