Selling Houses on Whatsapp

Selling real estate can be very rewarding, especially selling to people who have wanted to own a house in Italy for some time, you could say it’s like selling dreams. Most people I meet are charming and come with a list of likes and dislikes and invariably change their mind once they’re here. This is fine, I did exactly that, initially I wanted a house in town and ended up buying one in the countryside.

You get some people that have such exacting demands that finding them their ideal property can at times be like swimming in honey. But for me, the best part of showing people houses is some of the bizarre questions you get asked. My favourite three thus far are:

1. How loud are the church bells?

2. If I buy a house and invite my family to stay for a holiday, will they like it here?

3. Do you know if the house is haunted?

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The way in which houses sell is changing all the time. Gone are the days of just adverts in estate agent windows, now there’s social media to contend with, having a web presence and regular newsletters to send electronically. I even have an Instagram account which has generated the occasional enquiry from a potential buyer, just from a daily posting of a photograph.

Also the way we communicate has changed, when I purchased my first UK home, it was all done via the Royal Mail, with letters to and from solicitors. When I bought my Italian house it was done via 4 emails and I came here to sign for it. And recently I sold a property solely by communicating with the seller and buyer via Whatsapp – how times change. But I guess if you don’t keep up I guess you get left behind.

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It’s All About Perspective

What a time of it we’ve been having here in Abruzzo lately. Snow came and within an afternoon many towns and villages were cut off, our collection of houses overlooking the valley was stranded for 5 whole days as the lane was impassable; even taking the dog for a walk in the deep snow was a challenge.

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Along with the inconvenience of snow we had power cuts, with as many as 100,000 homes without electricity for days. Water pipes froze, people lost their broadband connections and then came the rain. A deluge of epic proportions that threatened to be second only to the rains Noah had experienced turned the fields into swamps, the lane ran like a river and mud slid onto the now flooded roads.

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During these frustrating times did we moan and complain? You bet we did, when people were able to get onto social media there were angry posts about the electricity suppliers, gripes about how we were sick of snow now and woe is me postings about having to cook dinner on top of the log burner: That one was mine – ironically after posting my moan to Facebook and served up said dinner by torchlight, the electricity came back on just as I was about to eat.

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After the snow had cleared I had clients over to view properties, (which is no fun in the rain). As the viewings with one lady started there were reports of earthquakes near Amatrice where there’d been a devastating one back on 25 August last year. My client told me a woman at her hotel had asked her why she was here in Abruzzo, she told her she was here to hopefully find a house as she plans to move to the area. Her enquirer then asked why she wasn’t worried about the earthquakes*. She told me her response was – “It’s all about perspective. I live and work in central London where there’s more risk of me being a fatality of crime or a victim in a terrorist attack than perishing in an earthquake.” – Brilliant response I thought.

* News companies in the UK have been reporting earthquakes in Abruzzo, sadly their reporting is flawed as the earthquakes occurred in the Lazio region.

So, yes it’s fair to say we’ve endured a lot this year thus far; it has been one of the worst winters in many years. My friend Mario said he remembers a winter where there was bad snow, torrential rain and earth tremors, but seeing as he’s in his mid eighties and his recollection takes him back to being a small boy, they’re frankly few and far between.

So yes let’s put it into perspective, we all moaned and griped about the snow for six or seven days and in the grand scheme of things seven days out of 364 isn’t bad going, that leaves us hopefully with 357 snow-free days. Rain may be unpleasant but there’s many more unpleasant things out there to feel aggrieved about. IMG_1172

There were issues with some electricity pylons being badly damaged by the weight of the snow, and some land slippage, but on the whole Italy is quite good when snow hits; roads are cleared quickly and close-knit communities care for each other.

But sadly this winter has brought tragedy in the form of the Hotel Rigopiano avalanche in the mountain town of Farindola, so putting it into perspective, a day without electricity or a few hours without broadband aren’t as Shakespeare said, the be all and the end all

But will we moan if it happens again – you bet we will, we’re only human after all.