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Today's quote:

Thursday, July 30, 2020

How to write a successful sales letter

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The inquiries to my FOR SALE advert continue to come in. Looking for telltale signs of potential time-wasters, I reply to only a select few. One inquiry to which I didn't bother to reply came in about a month ago; however, they tracked down my phone number and called me yesterday.

Being comfortably ensconced in front of the blazing fireplace with - very appropriately - Hermann Hesse's "Steppenwolf", I suggested it would be better if I answered their questions by email:


Thank you for your inquiry, [name withheld to protect the innocent],

before we go further into details, allow me to clarify one point which has put the dollar-sign into so many previous inquirers' eyes: while the property consists of eight separate titles which can be sold off separately, the chances of obtaining additional building permits are probably very slim. I have not explored the matter seriously, as these seven acres are my buffer against the outside world, but if building permits could be obtained, EACH of the blocks would be worth in excess of a million dollars (by comparison, the last vacant block in the lane, consisting of a mere 1500 square metres, sold for $750,000!) Having got this out of the way, I am happy to answer whatever questions you may have after you have read through my home-made website thisisaprivatesale.com.

As to your question why it hasn't sold in all these years: perhaps it is because I am not using an agent, although I must say that I have had more genuine inquiries since I have listed the property myself than during the years while it was listed with an agent who brought me a succession of "potential" buyers whose only potential was that they had a vivid imagination and made some ludicrous offers, not only financially but also in terms of their conditions. One agent brought me a "cash buyer" who was going to put down 5% to lock me up contractually for 24 months during which time he would carry out "due diligence" (aka find another buyer he could sell it on to at an even higher price). If, at the end of the 24 months, he decided not to proceed, he would be entitled to a full refund of his 5%. When I refused, my agent was astonished, "But it's a cash contract!" Yet another agent introduced a crackpot who was going to put no money down but pay a "rent" until the property was paid off. Another agent did a back-to-back deal; the other deal fell through and so did the sale of "Riverbend". Will I ever use an agent again? No, but I may consider that, by comparison, politics is an honourable profession! :-)

The last serious buyer was a very well-heeled Chinese to whom the asking price of $2 million-plus was mere pocket-money (his BMW i8, worth $360,000, would have been an adequate deposit). The trouble was that we both hit it off so well and became such good friends that he doesn't want me to leave which is what would happen if he bought the property (my wife is Indonesian and our current plans are to return to Kalimantan where I used to work when I was still a lot younger and fitter; I am now 75 and, never having been a physical person, would be quite contend to see my days out sitting in a comfy armchair by the window and reading the 5,000-plus books I've accumulated :-)

In short, I am a serious seller but not a desperate one as every new day at "Riverbend" is a bonus. After half a lifetime overseas during which I had the good fortune to live and work in some extraordinarily beautiful places, this has been my first real home and I've lived here now since 1993 which must say something for this place.

All this is my rather convoluted way of giving you some impression of why the place hasn't sold yet and why I am still here. Selling out from here is part of my estate planning which, of course, may never happen, so if I should suddenly drop dead, you would encounter a far more determined, if not desperate, seller in my wife who would find it difficult to live here on her own, so perhaps you may want to wait :-)

With kind regards


As you may have gathered, I did not consult a "How to write a successful sales letter" manual to write this reply, and I expect to be left in peace long enough to finish Hermann Hesse's book.

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