Amanda Lamb June 2012 column

Friday, June 01, 2012

Amanda Lamb June 2012 column

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 known as compromise.

No surprises there I suppose – the same could be said of life in general – but the thing is we all think we have the ability to compromise on lots of things but when it comes to the crunch we don't. When seeking the perfect property it suddenly becomes nigh on impossible to see the wood for the trees, so to speak, and we realise that something has to give.

Most of us think we can have it all and find the charming old stone house tumbling with vibrant bourgainvillea overlooking the ocean a short walk to some lovely local beach bars for the princely sum of next to nothing. 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 about the things you desperately want – and the things you can live without - will help to make the process a whole lot easier.

One little story goes to show how people set out with very definite ideas - yet the eventual “dream home” can be very different to the one they had imagined. I can remember one lady in particular 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 sized gardens but none of them were big enough… she wanted at least an acre. Her dream seemed rather bigger than her budget and she 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 real wild card: an apartment with only a balcony big enough to fit a table and chair. However the stunning property was built into the gateway of an old medieval city wall and we took a punt and showed it to her. Yep, you guessed it, she fell in love with at first sight. And the lack of outside space? She said she'd overlook that as there was a park around the corner!

In the same way, we get people on the show whose dream it is to wake up and look at the ocean. The trouble is with properties with sea views is that they come at a premium, usually at least 30 – 40 per cent more than you would pay for the same type of property that overlooks the carpark or ring road.

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 sort of things you have to ask yourself when embarking on the long road of property-buying. It will save time and heartache if you ask yourself what is most important to you. Is it the size of property, its location, or the price? Life is made 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. You have to realise you can't always have it all.

One house hunter once said to me (after a carafe of the local wine) that she'd come to the conclusion that the perfect house is as elusive as the perfect man. Wise words indeed, and she ended up buying a property that was a lot like her husband, a bit overgrown, slightly rough round the edges and in need of some TLC but overall a safe bet. And you know what? It suited her down to the ground and as far as I know they're all still there – and still married.

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