Diary of a London estate agent: Southfields and Earlsfield

Delicate chains, covered drains and plenty of buyers prepared to wait for the right place.
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After a lovely week off in Cornwall, I come into work to hear that we have been instructed on a fantastic house in the Southfields Grid. The vendors want to upsize in the area, but they don’t want to move before finding their new home. This situation is very common and, given the shortage of property on the market, we always have plenty of buyers who are willing to wait.
My good mood is shattered by a phone call from a buyer who was due to exchange on his purchase today. While trying to arrange buildings insurance, he has discovered that the vendors made a claim for subsidence three years ago.
Hours of frantic telephone conversations between me, the buyer and the clients follow as we try to get to the bottom of what happened. I leave the office on time to pick up my little boy from nursery, but I sense that this won’t be the end of my working day.
Yesterday’s drama has still not been resolved, but I hadn’t factored in another issue arising on another sale that is going through — the buyer’s surveyor has been unable to confirm that the drain at the front of the house is clear, because it is covered with decorative stones. 
The buyer has requested a drain survey, but the vendor has cleared the stones himself and sent me photos to show that it is clear. The buyer is still not happy, so I have to go to the house and climb through the hedge to access the drain.
I try to video-call the buyer while I am there to show him the drain, but due to poor reception, I have to resort to voice-calling him and taking numerous photos of the drain from different angles. The glamour of this job never ceases to amaze me.
It turns out the movement on the other house was caused by a cherry tree in the road and once the council had it removed, the problem was resolved. The afternoon is spent calling solicitors, loss adjusters and insurance companies to try to get enough information to reassure the buyer. There is a delicate chain above, so this needs to be sorted out as soon as possible.
As I am currently selling my home and buying through Douglas & Gordon, I have to deal with the stresses of my own move, as well as co-ordinating those of my customers.
Today, I am informed that several external surveyors had been exaggerating the amount of damp present in my property — a dirty trick to bring the value down, which I am luckily able to straighten out, thanks to Wandsworth council.
The drama isn’t over yet — I receive a call from my solicitor to let me know that the vendor of the property I am about to exchange on is facing repossession. I steal frantic moments on the phone trying to negotiate a new completion date.
Thankfully, there is some good news today. The exchange on a property which has been on the market for over three months finally goes through, which is a cause for celebration for all of us in the office.

Still reeling from the issues with my own move, I have no time to dwell on them. This morning, I’m off to visit a fantastically large property near St Michael’s Primary School for a valuation. I managed to accidentally knock off the owner’s letterbox when I delivered the pre-evaluation letter last night, so I am relieved to be let into the house. 
Three valuations later, and it’s time to grab a quick supper before picking up my son from school. The weekend can’t come soon enough.
The end of a long week has finally arrived, with an increase in potential buyers, but not much supply to go around, so there’s still lots of work to be done to keep everyone happy.
The weekend schedule has to be sorted as well, and I spend most of my afternoon making sure that everyone knows where they need to be.
I’ve still got my own moving logistics to deal with — luckily, my solicitors have managed to reschedule my completion date, so it’s full steam ahead with my plans for the new house. My husband is an interior designer, so when I get home, I spend my evening poring over endless ideas for kitchens and bathrooms — the work never ends.
  • Maddie Miller is sales manager at Douglas & Gordon covering Southfields and Earlsfield (020 8874 8822).

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