Diary of a London estate agent: Clapham

I’m busy managing an interested buyer list of almost 300, a bidding war and a mother who gets so excited about a viewing that she forgets her baby.
Monday
The last one in at 8.45am falls victim to the daily “coffee rule” and has to buy a round for the whole team — so as I was in early, it’s another free coffee for me. Monday mornings are busy and I already have a full inbox from my viewings on Saturday, as well as new inquiries to follow up. I have almost 300 interested buyers on my “call list”, so time management is key.
 
A gentleman from Eastbourne walks in this afternoon, looking for a bolt hole. Although he already owns a property in Marylebone, he wants something small in south-west London for his monthly visit up to the capital from the East Sussex coast — lucky for some. I book him in for a viewing on Wednesday and he leaves with one of our company bags, as his 5p supermarket carrier is about to burst.
 
Later in the afternoon, I go with a mother and her newborn baby on viewings. She is so excited about the last house, she calls her husband there and then to persuade him to see it this evening. As she leaves, I shout: “I think you’ve forgotten something!” — her baby’s fast asleep in the front room of the house.
 
Tuesday
Our sales meeting in Battersea starts at 8.15am sharp. We call it the “BBC meeting” — Battersea, Balham and Clapham — as it covers our network of offices in these districts surrounding the Common. We discuss all available property and the challenges of getting our “under-offer” homes to exchange.
 
Later in the day, I show a recently developed house in Broadhinton Road in the Old Town to a couple needing an artist’s studio. I’m familiar with this house, as I sold it last year. Finished to a high standard, it’s the kind of place that’s popular with downsizers, and it is perfect for this couple because it comes with planning permission for a studio in the garden.
 
Finishing the day on a high, I complete the sale of a penthouse flat overlooking Clapham Common. I meet the buyer at the flat — along with his mother and father, who are contributing significantly to the cost — with a Fortnum & Mason hamper and a lovely Marsh & Parsons candle... and the keys, of course.
 
Wednesday
Changing my walk to work this morning, I take the leafy way up into the Old Town, where I bump into a buyer I dealt with more than two years ago. I enjoy living and working in the area, as there is a real sense of community. 
 
I spend the afternoon with a great couple I’ve been showing property to for a while. They find their dream home today, but it’s beyond their budget. They leave feeling both excited and scared, but not before making calls to their financial adviser, their solicitor and even to the husband’s mother to help make up the difference. It’s clearly the house they want.
 


Thursday
A woman has travelled from west London to see two flats before 8.30am — which wouldn’t usually be a problem, but I was at a late gig last night. Good transport links are the key requirement for this buyer and even a 10-minute walk to the Tube is too far. So I quickly ring the owner of a flat that I know should be perfect for her, as it’s right next to Wandsworth Road train station.
 
As I return to the office, my manager is blaming Thames Water works for the traffic, but the coffee rule still applies. I spend the next few hours calling my list of buyers and get a bunch of viewings booked for the weekend.
 
Friday
The week has flown by — I can’t believe how quickly. This morning I work through my “pipeline” of properties under offer and speak to solicitors and other estate agents within the chains.
 
My boss returns to the office full of excitement, having intervened in a burglary, which isn’t uncommon in this industry. He was nearly knocked over by a chap who, in a communal hallway, was clearly attempting to break into one of the flats in the building. My manager notified the police. It’s all part of the local “neighbourhood watch” service we provide.
 
There’s a bidding war at the end of the day’s business. A seller has got to decide between a cash buyer with no chain, and a slightly higher amount from a buyer in a long chain. I am not sure which way it will go, but I will find out next week when I return from a yoga retreat in Glastonbury. Yes, this weekend I am swapping gin and tonic for herbal tea.
  • Aileen McCarthy is an associate director at Marsh & Parsons in Clapham (020 7501 3666).

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