When Michael Douglas as Gordon Gecko in the 1980s film, Wall Street, said, "Greed is good" it seemed a rather shocking statement.
Whether we like it or not, greed is probably what makes the world go round, and it has done ever since time began. The first cavemen undoubtedly traded basic goods with each other to survive, and the canniest cavemen probably realised pretty quickly that the more goods they could trade, the more comfortable existence they would then be able to enjoy. That basic blueprint has applied ever since.
Greed – or to put it more gently, ambition – certainly makes the property market go round. It is people’s ambition, however humble or grand, that makes them seek new homes for themselves, their families, their jobs, their asset bases, their pets, their toys, their lifestyles or their statuses. It was always this way.
But ambition also controls markets. The ambition of a purchaser, to buy a property or commodity for as little as possible, keeps in check the ambition of the seller to achieve as much money as possible. In this respect ambition controls the situation because it forces realism into the market and provides a platform for deals that are acceptable to all sides - albeit sometimes grudgingly. In a way the friction of conflicting ambitions provides the heat that ultimately forges market value.
The trouble comes when one side is more ambitious than the other – or a little too greedy than is good. Greed tempered by reason is one thing. Blind greed is quite another. An unrealistic offer is as useless as an exorbitant asking price. Both will achieve nothing.
This is a time of greatly conflicting property market reports. Some commentators say that prices are still going down – great for buyers - while some say prices are creeping up – great for sellers. All, somehow, blame the current economic conditions. But they miss the real point.
Despite the Greek, Spanish and Italian financial woes; the Eurozone conjecture, the lack of discernible growth in the UK, the fixing of the Libor rate, the hosepipe ban, the miserable wet summer, the Olympics or the Duchess of Cambridge’s wellies: regardless of any of these sideshow issues, the fact remains that if a purchaser makes a reasonable offer, and a reasonable seller accepts it, both will achieve their ambitions and a deal will be done– even in this market and despite what else is going on in the world. That is the point.
On the face of it an estate agent’s job is to sell property. In reality it is to manage the expectations and ambitions of buyers and sellers - reasonable or sometimes otherwise - to achieve agreeable results for both sides. After all without mutual agreement no one is going anywhere - however ambitious he or she might be!