British Expat Newsletter:
3 August 2005

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Property
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Joke and quotation

This week

We’ve had some fairly heavy topics over the last few weeks including religious intolerance and the anti-terrorist shoot to kill policy introduced by the British government. This all led to some good discussions among our members, so thanks for all the feedback! This week’s topic isn’t nearly so controversial but it is one which affects many of us – property. Even if you’re not in the position of buying to let, owning a second home in the UK or selling up to move elsewhere, you might find this week’s topic an interesting peek into the property market in Britain today.

As we’re currently in the process of selling our home in Greater London, we’ve been avidly watching all the relevant TV programmes, and reading up on the subject on the Internet and in books. Just like cooking was the “in” thing several years ago – and still is to some extent – the current flavour of the moment is buying and selling houses.

We like the TV programme To Buy Or Not To Buy. The presenters are faced with a challenge to find a property for someone who wants to move but hasn’t been able to find a suitable property for themselves. Some people have incredibly unrealistic expectations. For example, they want a five-bedroomed house in a rural area miles away from any neighbours but close to all local amenities. Some requests are quite odd too, like the family who wanted space for a donkey or the man who wanted to build a recording studio in his home. All these things are possible, of course, but mostly the budgets available are dismally low for such desires. Still, the presenters generally do a good job and often find just what the customer wants. In each programme the presenters select three properties for the buyer to view, having viewed them the buyer then selects one, and is given the opportunity to “try before they buy”. Thus they move in for a day to see how the place suits them.

It’s very interesting to watch how the buyers behave when viewing the properties. (They look around inside on their own, while the presenters stay outside and listen to their comments via headsets).

I’ve found it absolutely amazing how people lack imagination when is comes to looking around a house. When I chose ours (Dave wasn’t able to come back to the UK at that particular time so I had to do the job myself) I looked at things like how much space there was, and whether it was close to transport links etc. Yet the vast majority of buyers on this programme make comments such as “Ooh! I like that table,” or “I don’t like that colour.” What has the table got to do with buying a house? If they like the table, then they can buy one. Similarly if they don’t like the colour of a room they can buy a pot of paint and a paintbrush.

I was becoming increasingly bemused by these type of comments. However, the more I researched on the topic for an article I was writing for the website, the more I realised how important presentation is these days. People really do seem to lack the imagination to picture themselves living in your house so you have to make it easy for them. One potential buyer really took the biscuit. He walked in and noted everything the seller had, saying things like, “Yes, the table will go there, and my computer can go there…” Well, yes it could but it clearly didn’t occur to him that he could use the space in whatever way would work best for him.

Similarly, it seems that an empty house is also difficult to sell because buyers lack the imagination to picture a room as a bedroom if it doesn’t have a bed in it. Whatever next?! I expect we’ll have our work cut out to sell ours as our ex-tenant either nicked or destroyed most of our stuff. Meanwhile we’re redecorating before putting it on the market. It’s hard to try to please everyone when choosing decor. We’ve actually chosen a much less adventurous colour scheme than we would pick for ourselves but equally we thought that magnolia and white everywhere was just too bland. Despite our best efforts to be neutral we’ve let some colour creep in. Will it put people off? Only time will tell.

Have you any experiences to share about selling up? Why not comment and let us know.

Virtual Snacks

There’s an amusing (but also quite revealing) article on Channel 4’s website about the psychology of estate agents. After reading about the Status Seeker, the Perfectionist, the Tragic Romantic and the Enthusiast, I’m more convinced than ever that we should just do our own thing…!
Channel 4 – The Psychology of Estate Agents

We’ve featured before because of their very striking coverage of much of the UK with aerial photos overlaid on road maps. Well, they also have a very handy route planning feature – you enter the town or postcode of your departure point and destination, and it works out the route for you – either the fastest or the shortest, depending on which you choose. The facility covers most of Western Europe, not just the UK.
Multimap Route Finder

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • fun stuff for the bathroom
  • thrusting pelvis
  • cottaging wales
  • topless horse-riding
  • how my english strong
  • nessie killed john cobb 1952
  • funny bones on a dark dark hill
  • what are some dances of hong kong
  • pompeii penis
  • ancient chastity belts history
  • dr dolittle alcoholic monkey
  • i love to go a wandering in german

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

British Expat Magazine


“Instead of getting married again, I’m going to find a woman I don’t like and just give her a house.”

Rod Stewart (1945- )


On furnishing her new house, Angelina Jolie is reported (The Sun, 2001) to have said: “I saw these plastic horses – we’ll have them instead of chairs. People will climb in the saddle to sit.”

It must be a joke! It had me in stitches anyway. 🙂

This entry was posted in 2005 and tagged , , by Kay McMahon. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)

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3 August 2005

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