Firstly, I must start with an apology. Sorry for my lack of writing over the last few months but things have been very very hectic. I am especially sorry to all those who have relied on my rumblings to sustain them over winter and your constant request for ‘the next installment’ has been humbling. A true heart felt apology goes out to you people. Hopefully, as things settle down my ability to write regularly will return.

Since my last entry a lot has happened. You will remember that I was selected ‘at random’ for a stint on our local jury. Fortunately I managed to get out of this by simple ringing up and saying things are very stressful having two children in the house. The lady on the other hand, obviously a parent, understood my situation and let me off. Fantastic.

For those of you that have not heard Rachel and I have put our house on the market. We have had a few nibbles and hopefully by the end of this week it should be sold.
Scientists have proven that selling your house and moving is second only to dying in levels of stress. As you could appreciate that has meant that things in the Banbury household have been a little stressful.

The stress firstly begins when you hold the first of your open homes. Everything needs to be tidy, organised and in pristine condition. Having done a few of these in the past I can tell you the most important aspect is teamwork. As a male my specialty is in superficial cleaning. This involves straightening, arranging and moving objects into new positions. Rachel is much more adapt to the hands on role of cleaning. She thrives in the nitty gritty areas, which involve ajax, rubber gloves and sore knees. When she starts to tire and puts away the cleaning products, she passes the baton to me and I finish playing golf in the backyard and start arranging. A real team effort.

For me the most nerve-racking moment within the open home revolves around one of our friendly neighbours. On our southern boundary we have a single lady who is probably in mid fifties. While quiet and unobtrusive it is her daily exercise routine which, if ever seen by a prospective buyer would have them running a mile.
Firstly, she dons her 1970 faded blue tracksuit and takes up her position in the lounge window, directly opposite our dining room window. Next up with have the 2kg dumbbells which she throws around in a reckless abandoned while pretending to walk up Mt Cook. Sweat starts to pour from her body as her tracksuit darkens in places it shouldn’t.
Away with the dumbbells and we are then onto the floors exercises.

In the past this moment has caused me great trauma. Many a lunchtime has been interrupted as I bite into my cheese sandwich and glance up and see our wrinkly neighbour, legs high and wide stretching her arms to the sky.
Sadly, things don’t end there. As the session advances the positions and contortions become more and more exotic and unbelievable. All of her spare time must be spent devising new ways to contort her body into strange positions. Initially I was shocked but I have to confess that during the last week, more than once, I have sneaked a peek through a gap in the curtains and tried some of her moves myself.
It was with great delight that as we left our house ten minutes prior to our first open home our neighbour was doing exactly the same, hopefully, going out to purchase a new tracksuit. I waved politely and hobbled to our car, still nursing two ruptured groin muscles from an early attempt at one of her impressive moves.

Following the open home we enter the negotiating stage. This is when the parties put forward there offers and it goes to and fro like a giant tennis game.
Having alluded to the importance of team work in the preparation of your open home I am now going to stress the importance of the individual in the negotiating stage.
At the risk of sounding sexist and alienating the large amount of women who read this blog I will be brief. Women should be quiet during all financial negotiations.
This was reinforced last week as we were negotiating a price for a house we liked. The key to good negotiation is starting low, taking small steps and treating it as a war of attrition.
This process requires no emotion and a strong will, sadly most women become personally involved and emotive.
While not wanting to give away details I can give a brief overview about our last negotiating as a warning about the destructive nature an emotive sentence can bring.

Our initial offer was low and checky and no body within the process really believed it was realistic, however, it got the game started. They replied with an equally pathetic offer, hardly moving from their initial price. I felt confident and had just privately told the agent that finance could be an issue, a common bluff in house buying process.
I put down our next offer, the agent nodded slightly, reluctantly acknowledging my obvious strength in negotiating phase. It was a small small concession, I was deep in the trenches and battling down the hatches. This was going to take a long time.
Then Rachel said, “I feel bad going in so low. We are being rude. Perhaps we should put down our highest bid and get things moving.”
The agent smiled, I buried my head in my hands.

Following the departure of the agent, Rachel and I had a little talk and a few ground rules have been put in place. The main one being we are a team when cleaning the house but negotiating is a man’s job.