Some clients are more memorable than others, as Andrew Grice
discovered when he was instructed to sell a delightful Georgian
house near Salisbury owned by Michael Horsfall and his wife Odile.
'When we arrived to pitch for the job, late on a cold November
night, Michael greeted us on the doorstep, confessing that as Odile
was away he'd taken the opportunity to turn off the central
heating,' remembers Andrew. 'There he stood, breath crystallising
in the hall, with his corduroys tucked into his socks and a chunky
scarf around his neck.'
'We'd bought Clump House through Strutt & Parker originally,
back in 1987,' says Michael, 'so there was a nice bit of continuity
there.' It went on the market again in January 2009, and attracted
more than 30 viewings in the first month. 'The property was lovely
but, I must confess, bore the hallmarks of Michael's somewhat
idiosyncratic DIY,' says Andrew.
On one viewing, he took the prospective buyers into an adjoining
coach house only to find it inches deep in water. 'It was obvious
that Michael's DIY plumbing had come unstuck in the frost,' he
says. But in a flash, Michael cobbled together a makeshift pump
from a vacuum cleaner, buckets and gaffer tape.
'Michael is a great DIYer. One of his most impressive initiatives
was a golf club rack for his motorbike - a four-foot vertical rear
spoiler for his golf bag. He'd also decided to re-gravel the drive
before viewings, and had invented a spreading contraption made from
scaffolding planks, which he towed behind his quad bike. But it
only worked when he could persuade his daughter to perch on the
back as ballast!'
Although viewings were plentiful, no one made an offer. 'There was
always something,' says Andrew. 'Little things that, in
combination, meant that no one had actually taken the next step.'
But one prospective buyer seemed keener than the rest - a couple
who wanted their in-laws to live with them. 'I sensed that they
really liked the house, so I got to thinking,' says Andrew. 'I
realised that, as it had two staircases - a main one and a back one
that would have been for servants - it could notionally be divided
into two, so the two generations could keep their privacy while
still living together.'
After talking the idea through with the buyers, a deal was struck.
All that needed doing was to clear any changes with a listed
building officer. Both sets of buyers came along for the
inspection. Michael arrived late on the scene, assumed the young
building officer was the buyers' granddaughter and turned on the
charm. It had the right effect - and the officer agreed to all the
'When contracts had been exchanged, Andrew took Michael and Odile
out to lunch to celebrate. 'It's such a pleasure when clients are
particularly charming, creative and eccentric,' he says. 'This job
is sometimes like being in a soap opera - the characters are larger