They didn't forgetMister Groffit

YET MORE evidence reaches me that the property boom is well and truly over and a slump is just around the corner. No doubt the professionals will dismiss this as purely circumstantial. However, they are entitled to their complacency and it is not for me to intrude on their private detachment from the real world. All I would say is that as a close observer of the market over the last year, I am in a better position than most to detect those small shifts in attitudes and emphasis which suggest the emergence of a new trend.

The source of my new evidence is a local estate agent with whom I have developed something of an off-off relationship over the last 12 months. This is the firm which has consistently dismissed my endeavours to buy a new house as a childish fantasy. All my efforts to engage the agency in some kind of rapport have fallen on stony ground. Until last week.

To my absolute surprise, through the door dropped some particulars of properties new to the market for my perusal. Latterly I have equated unsolicited property particulars with the winning numbers in the National Lottery. So to find the details of not one property but three all in the same envelope was a cause for celebration.

The houses were of the right proportion, in the right price bracket and in the right condition. The only problem was that they were in the wrong part of the world. I have nothing whatsoever against the areas in question; it is just that they are several miles away from where I need to be. To be fair to the estate agent they were in the same country, but when it comes to the home of my dreams I tend to be just a little bit on the fussy side.

It butters no parsnips with me that the charming property is a short stroll from the town centre if it is the wrong town centre. You may wonder, then, why I am so animated about receiving a bunch of particulars which have no use to me whatsoever. The point here is that at last the estate agent is making an effort.

Having been ignored so readily over the last year it makes a pleasant change to know that someone has at least gone to the trouble of digging out my details even if they have then ignored them completely. This is a major breakthrough and suggests to me that life in the fast lane of the property market is beginning, for the first time, to look just a little less glamorous.

And there is more. Just a few days later I received a telephone call from the same agent.

"Is that Mr Groffit?"

"Yeees."

"Are you still looking to buy a house?"

"Yeees."

"It says here you want to buy in Richmond."

"Yeees."

"What about Twickenham?"

"What about Twickenham?"

"Are you interested?"

"I suspect that if I had been interested I would have said so on your form."

"So you are not interested in Twickenham?"

"No, I am interested in Richmond."

"So you don't want to view properties in Twickenham?"

"No, I would like to view properties in Richmond."

"Fine, I'll be in touch."

That may seem to you like a somewhat inconsequential conversation. Indeed it was. Except that it establishes for the first time an intercourse which was instigated by the estate agent. I know it was not particularly fruitful but it is a start.

To my simple mind this new- found enthusiasm for getting in touch with prospective buyers is a sure-fire sign that the market is getting a little soggy. It may be insufficient to call the onset of a slump with total confidence but we are moving in that direction.

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