Read The Packet To Find Out What’s Inside
In life, things are often not quite what they seem. Take, for example, the breakfast cereal “Grape Nuts.” It contains no grapes and no nuts but this still somehow manages not to confuse us. The same goes for Cream Crackers – they contain no cream and, incidentally, you don’t have to be crackers to buy them. Easter Eggs (and you can check this out if you still have one around the house) contain no egg. They are, of course, egg shaped but nobody calls them “chocolate egg shapes.” “Light” food products are no brighter than their full fat rivals and “Frosties” aren’t even cold let alone frozen. Similarly and most annoyingly, the “easy open” flaps on boxes of porridge are anything but easy to open.
And it’s not only on the grocery shelves where things are not as they appear. Cash machines often have a sign saying “Free Cash Withdrawals.” Unfortunately, the withdrawals still reduce your bank balance. “Please Take A Seat” signs in waiting rooms are simply an invitation to sit down and wait and are definitely not an invitation to remove the furniture.
When it comes to estate agents’ property descriptions, things are really no different. Not because they are deliberately misleading or because vendors want to exaggerate certain features but because we bring to descriptions our own interpretations, our own prejudices and favouritism. “Close to local shops” could mean next door to a 24 hour mini market, down the road to stores we would never dream of entering or a short drive away on the other side of a motorway intersection.
“A quiet location” to some would preclude a railway line at the bottom of the garden but doesn’t touch on the matter of the next door neighbour’s rock band rehearsals. “Commanding views” or “an uninterrupted vista” could mean that the property is located on top of a mountain, shrouded in mist for half the year. Alternatively, if it’s surrounded by mature trees, in the summer when you are more likely to be in the garden, you will see nothing but a wall of leaves. What is “exquisite” to one person is repulsive to another because of our individual tastes and experiences. A house with large rooms can still feel pokey because of the very low ceilings or the small windows that leave the room dark and dingy on the sunniest of days.
Even with photographs, floor plans and accurate measurements, property details don’t always tell the full story. They generally don’t include ceiling heights, fire place hearths or lost space to pillars, columns and other structural supports. They sometimes show spectacular views from the most panoramic windows but rarely from other windows that might overlook a brick wall or a multi story car park. This is, again, not necessarily a veiled attempt to pull the wool over a prospective buyer’s eyes. It’s far more likely to be the result of one person’s preconceptions and priorities being totally different from another’s. One set of priorities differing hugely from another’s. Some people want a home with convenient bus routes close by but would balk at the bus stop being right outside the front door!
We shouldn’t be surprised to see an ultra modern home full of antiques or an eighteenth century house decorated with the most contemporary furniture. It may seem inappropriate for a stone cottage with roses growing round the front door to reveal a dining room full of suits of armour that would be more fitting in a medieval banqueting hall but that may be just how the owners want to live. Whilst we may accept and even expect small rooms to be cluttered, we don’t expect large airy rooms to be stacked out with overloaded shelves, bulging cupboards, mountains of storage boxes and masses of furniture. But this may well be just how a family wants to live.
One piece of advice, therefore, to all prospective buyers when viewing a property is to think of how you actually choose to live and what you want to do in your home. Don’t be tempted to think you can adjust your lifestyle to the house that’s on offer. You can’t. After all, your life is what it is and not what it may appear to anyone else. It is, in fact, exactly what it says on the packet…it’s just that you may have to scratch your head a little to understand what the packet is saying.