© Merrily Harpur (harpur.org)
We’ve a busy week ahead, and the company’s annual awards dinner on Friday means I don’t have long in which to squeeze in the glut of valuations that have appeared over the weekend.
No bad thing of course - there’s a shortage of letting properties at the moment and we have some desperate tenants. This afternoon I value a great two-bedroom flat at around £350 a week, which I know will be snapped up immediately.
There’s huge demand for affordable two-bedrooms at the moment, as many people decide flat-sharing is the only way to save the large deposit the banks require from first-time buyers.
Another valuation today, and this time it’s a pretty family house with two boisterous kids and a father who’s clearly used to the family business.
I’ve only seen two rooms when his phone rings telling him that his wife has gone into labour. I tell him I’ll come back another time but he says: "Oh don’t worry, it’ll be hours, we might as well finish here first."
I’m torn between being impressed at his cool head and terrified for his wife.
My assistant and I head off to a valuation in Hammersmith. It’s pouring with rain and the traffic is at a standstill in the high street.
After 10 minutes of talking 19 to the dozen and occasionally hooting at no one in particular, I realise to my horror that we’ve been sitting behind a parked car. We are so mortified at our idiocy we can barely speak for the whole journey, but luckily the property we see knocks that out of us.
The austere brick block is pretty unusual from the outside, but as if that isn’t enough, the interior looks like the set of Logan’s Run. The walls, kitchen cupboards, even the ceilings are all painted silver.
The new owner asks me if I think she should redecorate, but frankly, in this market, anything goes.
I have two dramatically diverse appointments today. The first is a valuation of a large family home whose owners have taken up the good life. They’ve turned their garden into one huge chicken run and the free-range fowl literally range-free - in and out of the house as they please.
As we sit in the freezing sitting room while I talk the couple through our terms of service, a squawky blast of feathers suddenly catapults right past my nose. This missile launching rather puts me off my stroke and I come out wondering if I’ve forgotten to tell them anything important.
The second appointment couldn’t be more different. It is a viewing of an exclusive penthouse and I wish that I had done the valuation so I would have known what to expect. As I blithely lead the client into the master bedroom, chatting away, I am silenced by a billboard-size photograph of the owner’s breasts beaming down at us from above the bed. The prospective tenant, however, doesn’t bat an eyelid; perhaps she’s got the same at home.
It’s our annual awards conference tonight, and today the office is buzzing. We beaver away, getting everything done in time to don our black-tie glitz while at the same time securing a deal on that two-bedroom flat I valued on Monday.
There’s a brilliant atmosphere at the conference - the awards are a great incentive (especially since they come with a jeroboam of champagne and a ski trip) - and it lifts further when TV comic Dara O’Briain presents the prizes to us. It’s a full-on, dance-filled night, and as I clutch our trophy and head home at a time I don’t care to divulge, I dread the Saturday morning alarm.
Sally Livermore is lettings manager at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward’s Hammersmith branch.