NB. If you want to skip straight to the video update – it’s here
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Up a ladder, with your back to the world, and feeling like somebody is watching is you, is not a good feeling.
Especially when you’re in a property, alone.
So I turned my head away from the fresh smear of paint I had just deftly applied and looked towards the light. Which, in my case, was the lounge window.
There pressed up against the glass, I saw three little children’s faces, their hands cupped over their eyes peering in. And it wasn’t the sort of peering in where you felt like they were about to smash the window and nick everything in sight.
It was the sort of wonder and excitement as if I were offering magical gobstoppers for a penny a piece.
Moments later and the eager children’s faces were towered over by a mature, motherly face who, just like her children, cupped her hands over her eyes to peer closer.
I smiled and waved from my perch on the ladder as though I was some sort of exhibit.
Without thinking I jumped off the ladder and opened the door.
“Hello” I said excitedly, “How can I help you?”
The mother, most likely overwhelmed by paint fumes and my wild sticky-out hair, took a step back. Being on my own in the house may have made me too overly-keen for human interaction.
I stopped smiling so inanely.
“I was just passing by as I was on my way to a friend’s and to view a house…and I saw the board and that yours is for rent and so I was just taking a look through the window”. She said.
“Well, you don’t just have to look through the window” I replied “Why don’t you come in and take a look?” I spread my arms out widely emphatically displaying the goods on offer.
She wasn’t expecting this.
Neither was I expecting myself to say that.
I looked at the children’s faces and guessed their ages at around eight, five and three.
Then I looked around at the tools and mess I had everywhere. And I looked back at the children and thought about their mischievous hands.
“Oh, the thing is…” I suddenly hesitated. “I wasn’t expecting visitors and to show anybody around…I have tools and bits everywhere and I’m worried the children will hurt themselves”.
“I even have saws lying around”. I said the last sentence with a conspiratorial whisper and darting eyes.
“Children” she barked at them “All line up and stand by the front door, you are NOT TO MOVE”.
“Will that be enough?” I asked her, thinking of my own niece who would stand sweetly and nod her head and in an instant dive for the saw and cut her arm off.
She gave me a knowing look. “They know what’s good for them – they won’t move”.
I looked at the children, their faces eyeing up their potential new play area.
I could tell they would look…and *fingers crossed* they wouldn’t move…
Still, I was wary of the tools and their young, adventurous hands and so I whizzed the passer-by quickly around the property, pausing only for her to take in the smell of fresh paint.
We get back downstairs where I feel more relaxed, knowing I can see the children all still lined up by the front door and my tools still all safely strewn across the floor.
I show the passer-by photos on my phone of the new laminate which I have chosen for the lounge, the stripy stair carpet and, I point out the neighbour opposite where I have chosen the same windows.
Up until this point, the passer-by has remained very quiet, with only a few ‘mmms’ here and there.
“Mummy, is this going to be our new home?” one of the little faces looks up questioningly, eyes bright with excitement.
The mother looks at the children and around the room again. Then she declares “I love it, it’s beautiful; I want to move in. Please can I?”
Now, I am a direct person, but even I was a little taken aback by this. She continues about how well thought out the house is, that it’s family friendly and she likes the laminate floors.
And in that moment, I feel pleased that I made the decision to keep the laminate flooring upstairs, so that I could justify the cost of the laminate I am installing downstairs. I may not have children, but I have enough friends who do (and who I’ve seen the state of their carpet and concomitant children stains) to know easy-wipe maintenance is key.
And as I looked across to the children, their happy faces at the thought of moving in – I also knew I’d made the right decision NOT to skim the walls. This house will be lived in as a family home, there will be scuff marks, bashed doors, pinned up posters and all the rest of what happens when you live in a family home. Wear and tear happens in a buy to let – I cannot be precious about the property – and that is why I have always banged on about creating a property which is “fit for purpose”.
I am not up to create a show home as you see on so many TV programmes. I have thought about this property, considered my target market and I believe, made the right decisions according to this criteria.
Will it work?
Only time will tell. But, the passer-by has put in an application to rent the property.
To be continued…
In the meantime – here’s a progress report: