On Liking The Work

On Liking The Work

I’m speechless, more or less. And I don’t really want to add many of my own words. It’s enough to say that when Cheri and I pulled open the envelope left in our office mailbox and found the above drawing inside, it made everything that went before it last week, both good and bad, just sort of fade away, like a fog burning off a brilliant blue sea…

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State of Mind

State of Mind

I was asked tonight what rodent I thought might be eating the front corner of the garage at a property I have listed for sale. I am sitting in the garden, minding my own business and ignoring that bit of work. With headphones. My son in the kitchen behind me with his math tutor. My daughter at the lake for a play rehearsal. The poppies bobbing out front.

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On Pricing A House In This Crazy Market (And The Intended And Unintended Consequences Of Just Making Stuff Up)

On Pricing A House In This Crazy Market (And The Intended And Unintended Consequences Of Just Making Stuff Up)

A couple of weeks ago a $500,000 Kingston house sold for more than $175,000 over the asking price. So I think it’s fair to say that it’s a bit mad out there. I don’t know what to make of sales like that. It’s become really hard, damn near impossible, to predict the sale price of houses once there are competing offers registered. I mean, how do you put a dollar figure on desperation?

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A Chance Meeting

A Chance Meeting

As far as I can tell, it all began with a chance meeting in the park. A big brick house on the corner of Alma and Patrick was being prepared for sale. Word had it the seller was moving into a top-floor, top-notch lemony condominium set among the baleful willows of Sydenham ward and, well, if that was the future he’d lined up (with our help) who could blame him?

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One

One

He would come up to bed late, smelling of oranges, the street gone quiet. It wasn’t every night - sometimes the stink was just whisky - but it was often enough. I could feel him downstairs, if that makes any sense, leaned up against the kitchen counter, digging his blunt thumbs into Valencia navels …

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Mary Poppins Jr At Central Public

Mary Poppins Jr At Central Public

My daughter, Willa, was dragging herself around the house a bit this morning. Her stomach hurt, she said, and she was listless. Wrapping the cat up in a blanket and gleefully stifling its every attempt for freedom was about all she could manage. I suspect there are a lot of tired kids at her school – Central Public – right now. Their production of Mary Poppins runs next week, on the 16th and 17th, and rehearsals are the order of the day.

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On Stealing Bikes

On Stealing Bikes

The house is empty and so I should be picking away at the new novel. Grabbing every free minute. I’ve stepped back recently from a few obligations in the hope of carving out a little space. And I’ve made a mildly decent start. For the first time in years it feels as if there’s no stall imminent, no fall from the sky. I hope to have a draft by the end of the year.

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Pete Shelley and Mark Hollis are dead

Pete Shelley and Mark Hollis are dead

Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks fame died last December. He was 63 and had a heart attack. I wandered about in a bit of a daze that morning and then … well you have to get on with things, don’t you? I ordered a t-shirt from their website, a sad, middle-aged nod on my part to his influence, and once it arrived it became more or less instantly a favourite part of my wardrobe (which I realise pegs me as a man of a certain age and disposition, and so be it). 

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Coming Soon

Coming Soon

We’ll be listing plenty of properties in the coming weeks. Which is exciting, and also a relief after these lean weeks to begin the year. Royal LePage doesn’t believe in, or allow, the “Coming Soon” signs so popular these days, and no denying it’s hard to watch your competitors plant their intentions in frozen lawns days and weeks ahead of the start date. Even harder is watching some of these sell before that listing date even arrives.

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Multiple Offers - Here We Go Again (A Word Or Two Of Caution)

Multiple Offers - Here We Go Again (A Word Or Two Of Caution)

Each of the last two years, Cheri and I have been involved in a competitive bidding situation more than fifty times. Our clients were up against other buyers for the same house. The year before that it was just five or six times. That’s how much the real estate scene here in Kingston has changed. Low inventory and high demand has created a seller’s market. Multiple offers are now the order of the day.

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Getting The Help We Need

Getting The Help We Need

We’ve been moving things around. Desks and chairs, filing cabinets and a little grey fridge stocked usually with cans of Perrier and, if I’m feeling flush, a few jars of some probably useless kombucha too. Pictures are being reassigned and books piled against the wall. I even sold my floating top mid-century teak desk (and haven’t quite recovered yet) The office that has until now only had to accommodate the two of us is being rearranged so we can fit in an assistant as well.

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“Coming Soon” Signs - The Case Against Them

“Coming Soon” Signs - The Case Against Them

Multiple offer situations. Loads of them. For more than a year now. The market here in Kingston has changed dramatically - inventory is way down and demand is high. I’ve rattled on about this situation more than once.

It’s changed the way people list houses, the timelines and strategies. When I got into this business a dozen years ago, the broker at the office I worked in said she didn’t like this whole idea of holding back offers, setting a date upon which they would be reviewed.

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On building a new website

On building a new website

We’ve begun again. Taken the website apart like it’s some old toaster, or car engine, some defunct mobile phone, and after spreading its parts out on the floor and kicking them around a bit, turning them over and around for a better look at their slick workings, and giving our head a good shake at our foolishness at some past moments and feeling really rather proud at others, we’ve completely rebuilt it with a mix of new and old parts.

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On Prawns and Greyhounds, Ice Cream and U2

On Prawns and Greyhounds, Ice Cream and U2

I have lots of memories of being a kid growing up in Blackbird Leys in the 1970s, on the outskirts of Oxford, a good number of them marvelous, some of them comic, and several that I’d rather forget because they were just unpleasant, or vaguely criminal, or downright depressing. Blackbird Leys, back then, was a tough place to live, a depressed and often violent council estate. Fighting was pretty much compulsory.

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