Diary of a London estate agent: Battersea

A busy first week back after Christmas with a valuation of a riverside property and the sale agreed on it to a Hong Kong buyer without a viewing within days; and my oddest ever valuation involving a visit to a nuclear bunker in the cellar of a local property.


Monday mornings usually start in much the same way every week — a quick round-up of the weekend’s viewings before we hit the phones to see what offers are likely to be coming in, and to give feedback to our vendors.

This week is a little different, however, as we have all just returned from the Christmas break. Top buttons feel a little more pinched and suits are a bit tighter, but to be honest we’re all happy to be back in the office.

The week has certainly started with a bang as we have pretty much back-to-back valuations and a diary full of viewings. The day flies and, by 8pm, I’m wondering where the time went.


I’m out on valuations. My first of the day is a classic five-bedroom house in Manchuria Road near Clapham Common. It’s the type of property that is very much our bread and butter and so it comes as no surprise when we are instructed there and then.

Next up is a two-bedroom apartment in a new development by the river. As soon as I walk in, I know that we will have a number of investor buyers interested. I make a mental note to get in touch with our Hong Kong office to see who they know that might want the details. I collect the keys and return to the office to find that we have already tied up a sale on a small flat just off Battersea Rise — another great result.


The first valuation of the day is one of the oddest I’ve had.

I arrive at the house (the location of which will remain a secret) and have a good look around. The vendor has lived at the property for more than 30 years and is looking to downsize. The valuation all goes to plan until I ask to see the cellar. The vendor is a little reluctant at first, but eventually takes me down some rather utilitarian steel stairs to show me the room.

At first I cannot quite believe what I am seeing — it is a nuclear bomb shelter. The vendor explains that, when he moved here from Switzerland, everyone at home had a shelter and so he just went ahead and installed it. I have absolutely no idea how he did it. The walls are two feet thick and the door must weigh a few tons. The snorkel system on the wall is a chilling reminder of just how close we might have come to a nuclear war in the Sixties.


I try to keep one day a week for admin duties — writing descriptions, catching up with clients and following up on previous valuations. Although I get a certain amount done, I’m aware the week is running away with me. 

We are all excited about the launch of the new Hamptons International office in KidZania this evening.

KidZania is a child-size city, based in the Westfield London shopping centre at Shepherd’s Bush, where the kids are in charge. They can undertake real-life role play activities and experience what the working world is all about.

This will be a particularly proud event for me, as my two daughters did a fair bit of filming in my house for the promotional material.


It’s amazing how quickly the week has gone, I even had to double check what day it was this morning. I have catch-up calls with our neighbouring offices once a week to see what cross-business opportunities there might be, and today we identify several buyers who might be interested in other offices’ properties.

As soon as the conference call is over, I get a nice surprise — one of our Hong Kong teams has had an asking price offer from one of their investors for the riverside property I took on earlier in the week. They already own two others in the same block, so don’t even need to see it. 

As the day comes to an end, I am delighted with our first week back. We have had a seriously busy time, which bodes well for the year ahead.

  • Jonathan Dyson is an area sales director at Hamptons International and is based in Battersea (020 7924 2170).

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