'You're selling the dream, not the reality'
I had bought and sold and advised family before I became an estate agent and so have experience from a buyer's, vendor's and agent's perspective. The last time I sold was in 2007, when I had no kids, just before the crash.
I'm putting the house on the market in the next few weeks. Buying and selling is much harder when you have children. Before my beloved ankle-biters came, the cleaner would come in on a Monday and the house would stay clean all week, bar the odd party, and ready for viewings. Now, if it lasts 30 minutes, it's a great success. In an ideal world, you'd pack them off to boarding school for the duration of the sale, stage their rooms and even go out to dinner. Unfortunately, that's not practical. But you do need to put away the toddler's toys and take down your teenager's posters - you're selling the dream, not the reality of family drudgery. A buyer may well think your house is the perfect answer to their chaotic lives. This is obviously a delusion but one you want them to continue with until they move in.
Last time round, I sold and moved in with my lovely girlfriend, Julie, who is now my wife. I bought a year later in 2008. So I was lucky in terms of the crash but I still paid more than I should have because prices fell further.I bought a house with a billboard because I was a penniless student in 2007; the billboard bought in about €8,000 a year, and I also rented a room to pay the mortgage, which was a tax-free income. It's an inconvenience but it takes a lot of money to earn, say, €500 before tax that you might make from renting. It was my safety net because I had no income then and the whole world seemed to be tanking.
I'm lucky, yes, in that I'll get my money back and I'll even make a small profit - I bought for €625,000 and I'll be putting the house on the market at €675,000 - I added an extension and upgraded the house. I'll also be paying the mortgage rather than rent. I'm putting the house on the market in October, not September. It'll be fresh when many of the properties which went to market in early September will seem old and tired. This time round, what will I do differently? I'll be taking much more care over marketing - whichever agent I use.
Jamie Douglas, branch manager with Hunters