Diary of an estate agent

Solly Strickland of the Unique Property Company has stars in his eyes after showing homes to A-listers, ageing rock stars and premiership footballers
Diary of an estate agent cartoon


I'm seeing stars. Not because I've wandered into a low doorway, but because today we've dealt with something of a flood of the famous, and indeed not so famous. First an ageing rock star (hint — Jubilee) wants a warehouse apartment for his London crash pad. Next up, an A-list "vampire" actor is looking for something fiendishly cool and private.

Then we encounter the son of another ageing rock star (hint — smashed guitars) looking for a creative space, a minor member of the royal family, a Chelsea footballer and a pair of eminent contemporary artists looking for the perfect studio and home environment.


Well, how fortunate. After yesterday's celebrity cascade, today I went to see the perfect pop star hideaway — 5,000sq ft of archetypal loft space in Camberwell, converted from a former pottery and neatly tucked away behind — possibly — the most glamorous parade of tall Georgian villas south of the Thames.

The living room alone is 1,350sq ft and has a kitchen swanky enough to turn Jamie Oliver green. It's owned by a music producer who also happens to be that rare thing in the world of estate agency — a regular client.

He bought and sold his previous home in Clapham through us, then bought this one through us and is now selling through us again. I wonder if we can find him three in a row…


Back to school, twice. SE1 got the run on things when school conversions started about 15 years ago. It has a number of fine examples and we're forever getting inquiries about buying them, but never enough people wanting to sell.

Today I'm lucky to have two to see — one near Bermondsey Square, just off the bottom of Tower Bridge Road, and the other on Westminster Bridge Road, close to Waterloo. Both of them are big, double height, open-plan spaces that still look good and, for £500,000 and £550,000, you get a real slice of what loft living is all about.


Some guys have all the luck. First, in Crystal Palace, we have just let a sixstorey church conversion after only one viewing for £1,500 per week — it's a coach house with an extraordinary roof terrace overlooking London.

Next, in Kennington, I see a 6,500sq ft warehouse that's been partially converted into a house. It has unbelievable proportions, with three roof terraces, two bedrooms and space for many more — or for an art gallery, recording studio or vintage car collection. Then I'm off to Clerkenwell to see the penthouse at a Victorian school conversion, and finally up the Arsenal for a no-lessgroovy loft in an old factory. London never ceases to amaze when it comes to hidden jewels.


If I have to answer one more inquiry about live/work apartments… Five years ago, we got about 25 inquiries a month for these. Now it's up to about 150. Previously, the calls were from artists, musicians and other creative types, but now it seems working from home is for anyone and everyone. Accountants, lawyers and even computer salesmen, it seems, have had enough of commuting and/or want to reduce their running costs.

It's amazing how the economic slowdown in the commercial sector has created such a huge demand for live/ work, and it's great to see this previously overlooked marketplace getting the recognition it deserves. The design of live/work spaces often eclipses the residential element in new developments, with the need for conformity and "safety" made redundant by the needs of a creative workspace. Let's see more live/work properties, please.

Solly Strickland is the London residential manager at Unique Property Company (uniquepropertycompany.co.uk).

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