Amanda Lamb column June 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Amanda Lamb column June 2011

In all the years of filming A Place in the Sun, one of the biggest causes of problems with house hunters on the show, and the thing that causes the most arguments between couples, is a little word called compromise.

We all think we have the ability to compromise, but when it comes to finding the perfect property it suddenly becomes very difficult to see the wood for the trees, so to speak, and realise that something has to give. Most of us think we can have it all - the cottage with the white picket fence and rambling roses over the door, overlooking the ocean and just a short walk to some lovely local tavernas - all for the princely sum of next to nothing.

Well, maybe in Utopia, but certainly not in the parts of the Med that I've been to! The whole house-buying process can be stressful enough and being prepared to think outside the box and really consider the things you desperately want will help to make the process a whole lot easier. Even more importantly, what can you live without? I remember one lady when we were filming in Almeria in Spain who was adamant she wanted a property with land (even though she was only planning on spending weekends there). The first three houses I showed her all had reasonable gardens but none of them were big enough. She kept saying she wanted at least an acre (though her dreams were much bigger than her budget!) and found fault with every property's garden (too small, not enough trees, too many trees, too shady, too overlooked) until we were all about to give up.

The last property I wanted to show her was the wild card. It was an apartment that's only outside space was a balcony just big enough to fit a table and chair, built into the gateway of a medieval city wall. It was stunning, but we deliberated about whether to show it to her because of the lack of garden. In the end we decided to go for it. She walked in and fell in love with it completely and utterly. When I asked her about the lack of outside space she said she'd overlook that as there was a park around the corner and the apartment was perfect!

That little story just goes to show how people set out with very definite ideas but the eventual "dream home" can be quite different to the one they imagined. Quite often we get people on the show whose dream is to wake up and look at the ocean. The trouble is, properties with sea views come at a premium, usually around 30 to 40 per cent more than you would pay for the same type of property inland.

So there's your dilemma, would you rather have an apartment with sea views or a farmhouse with lots of space but a drive to the beach? These are the things you have to ask yourself when embarking on the long road of property buying. What's most important to you? Is it the size of property, its location, its price? Life is so much easier if you have a very definite idea of what you want but you are also prepared to let some things go in order to find your place in the sun. If you try to have it all you can get yourself really stressed, and still not find it.

One house hunter admitted to me (after several glasses of local vino) that she'd come to the conclusion that the perfect house was just like the perfect man; it doesn't exist! But she ended up buying a property that was a lot like her husband, a bit overgrown, a bit rough round the edges and in need of some TLC, but overall a really good find. And you know what? It suited her down to the ground and as far as I know they're all still there and blissfully happy together.

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