Diary of a lettings agent: Knightsbridge

A Knightsbridge lettings agent releases her "inner Kelly Hoppen" and gives potential tenants a masterclass on interior decorating.
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Being based in Knightsbridge means that about 70 per cent of our applicants are international, predominantly from France, the United States, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

Many clients from overseas are perfectly happy to sign a tenancy contract before seeing a property. I have just agreed the let of a beautiful maisonette in Chelsea to a Frenchman who hasn’t yet viewed the place. However, this morning a friend offers to view it on his behalf. It isn’t my finest moment — I forget my umbrella and turn up looking like a drowned rat to meet an immaculately groomed dead ringer for Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth.

Needless to say, he loves the property and gives great feedback to the new tenant. A holding deposit is taken and the client is set to move in next week. Done deal.

The richer the client, the bigger the diva, it seems. Despite my softly-softly approach on the phone to a Russian lady who viewed a property on Saturday, I’m told the flat she saw was “revolting” and she absolutely does not want to take it.

This flat is actually gorgeous, my dream home with ceilings five times my height and a bathroom with an incredible rain shower. Oh well, you can’t please them all. She is immediately sent another list of options in Belgravia and Knightsbridge, and I am not giving up. She is back in the country next week.

Today is turning out to be frustrating. We have a great three-bedroom lateral flat, on the market for some time now, for which I received an offer last week. The landlord was proving difficult to get hold of but the offer was finally accepted last night.

I therefore call the applicants today to let them know the great news, but because the landlord took so long to get back to us, they have gone off and made an offer on another place. These things happen and after five years as an agent you learn nothing is a dead cert until the keys are in the door. The flat is still in the applicants’ top two and they say they will let me know their decision asap. Fingers crossed.

It’s an occupational hazard that I frequently find myself wanting to move into a lot of the properties I see. Our stuff ranges from £300-a-week studios all the way up to £25,000-a-week penthouses. I feel that, however messy a current tenant is, there is always potential to make a property beautiful.  My “inner Kelly Hoppen” comes out, and I make a point of showing potential applicants what can be done, and  how the place could look when they move in — for example, rearranging the furniture to maximise space, suggesting a trip to Designers Guild to get bed linen to give a plain room some character, and recommending where to get lovely candles to eliminate the smell of new paint (diptyque is a must).

I’m taking out a lovely couple this morning who specifically want somewhere very traditional and British. (Imagine lots of chintz and florals, very Laura Ashley). This is a particular  penchant of Americans. We turn up at a property in Chelsea — a quintessentially British, Georgian townhouse. The owners have friends staying, but we believe it has been arranged that the visitors will go out to allow us to show the house.

The viewing is going well with lots of “Oooh” and “Aah” and “Isn’t this wonderful?” until I open the door to the upstairs bathroom to find one of the owners’ guests sitting on the loo, and funniest of all, they don’t seem remotely surprised!

My couple have already offered on the previous house they viewed, so all is not lost.

I don’t think I actually spend more than 20 minutes in the office all day today. I love it when I’m so busy. I find it even better when I meet interesting people and this is one of those days.

I end up showing about 10 flats to a very well-known singer. Of course I have to be very professional throughout and he has even brought eight of his entourage along with him. We have second viewings booked in for next week and I now have tickets to his  concert. A great result.

Anna Kahan is a senior negotiator at Carter Jonas in Knightsbridge and Chelsea (020 7590 4697)

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