A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine!
As the old prayer goes, ‘From the fury of the Northmen deliver us, oh Lord!’.
Here’s my more modern one for this day and age: Domine salva nos a procrastinatione: Lord save us from procrastination…
It is Viking Day today for Key Stage 2 at Cutteslowe Primary School, and Hrothgar the Dane is visiting to provide some hands on, fearsome and beardy education (my favourite sort). And so a letter went round a few weeks ago to tell us parents that our beloved progeny could dress up as Vikings today, with a homework task on how to make some Viking clothing and weaponry in advance:
“Perhaps we can help Leila make a sword and shield this weekend, dear,” Jenny said to me a few weeks ago…
“Yes!” I said, “I’ll get to B&Q this week for some balsa wood and metallic spray paint,”…
“Perhaps we can help Leila make a sword and shield after school tomorrow, darling,” Jenny said to me last week…
“Oh, yes!” I said, “I'll get to B&Q in the morning for some balsa wood and metallic paint,”…
“Rowan! It is Viking Day tomorrow. We need to help Leila make her sword and shield!!” Jenny finally snapped yesterday.
“By Thor!”, I cried, “I haven’t been to B&Q yet for the balsa wood and metallic paint!”.
“Forget balsa wood and metallic paint!”, my ever practical wife said, “we’ve got toilet rolls, cardboard boxes and tin foil… it’s a bit of fun at primary school, not an audition for The Last Kingdom!”.
And so in the space of a half hour in the evening, together with Leila, we cobbled together a tunic and hose out of an old dress and some PJs, cellotaped together a triple-layered cardboard sword with its blade wrapped in tin foil and its hilt bound with string, fashioned a foil-wrapped cardboard shield complete with arm straps (and a foil-wrapped Nescafé jar lid for a shield boss), and Leila added the finishing decorative flourishes in marker pen this morning.
And you know what, she looked the part. Hrothgar, I'm sure, will have been thrilled - or suitably terrified. Either way: result!
When it comes to marketing property, people can be equally guilty of procrastination. We have managed to wind the process up into being this all important thing in this country, that life and death can seem to hinge upon, and so it's no wonder that so many people now worry that their property isn’t meeting some vision of perfection yet that they’ve imbued in their minds through watching endless episodes of Location, Location, Location and other similar house-porn. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t like entirely complacent sellers, those who make no effort at all (our professional photographers, especially), but the truth is that a little effort goes a long way and you really don't need to obsess about achieving 'perfection'; in fact, given how subjective property buying is, it's usually an impossible dream on the part of any seller: you can't appeal to everyone, no matter what you do.
It is important to get some basics right, it is important to present the house in the right way; but just because you haven't got round to fixing the toilet seat yet, is not a reason to be losing out on buyers - particularly in stagnating and falling market places.
Here are three common procrastinator objections that might surface in your own mind whenever you come to sell your home, and here a couple of tips that might just help you if the process starts to stress you out:
1) "We need to redecorate first, before marketing…"
- Really? Look, maybe you do (and sometimes, you really do!), but just remember that when you start redecorating you might never stop. Once you’ve done the walls, you’ll think your joinery looks a bit off; so you do that woodwork, but then your ten year old windows now look a bit ropey… one thing leads to another and all of a sudden it's like painting the Forth bridge. A good clean - particularly carpet cleaning - will often be all you need to achieve the ‘lift’ you’re looking for; and also just remember that buyers often do want to put their own stamp on things.
2) "We’re going to replace our furniture so it looks better in photos…"
- Seriously? You were worried about knocking a couple a hundred quid off agency fees, but you want to go and spend thousands at Laura Ashley on sofas that you’re not even selling to the buyers!? Don’t get me wrong, some sofas I’ve seen look and smell like they've come straight out of my 6th form common room - bits of Space Raiders down the sides of the arms, and all; but it's nothing that a nice throw from Dunelm can’t fix most of the time. So if you are obsessing over the idea, think throws, think scatter cushions and think the odd vase of flowers, and suddenly your Living Room doesn't look out of place in a Good Housekeeping double page spread.
3) "We're going to wait until the summer as the garden looks better…"
- I’m sure it does. You know whose else’s looks better, don't you? Lots of other people's, also selling their houses. You know when they’re waiting until? Then. You know who isn’t waiting until then, though? The Buyers we’ve got looking now. And you know what many buyers will be doing in the summer? They'll be enjoying the summer - in Portugal.
There are always reasons to wait - believe me, I know! And to be fair, I fully recognise that I am speaking a little flippantly in this article, so let me caveat the whole thing by saying that sometimes there are genuine, serious and personal reasons that rightly and understandably hold you back. Of course, in those cases, you should wait. But if the time is right for you, now, then grab the metaphorical tin foil and stop procrastinating - because Hrothgar is not waiting.