Diary of an estate agent

Our West Wickham agent rises to his Mission Impossible-style challenge
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Diary of an estate agent cartoon
© Weef


As I enter our West Wickham office on a drizzly day I am greeted by a persistent chorus of ringing phones as buyers register and vendors call for valuations on their homes. It has been like this since we got back after the new year break - don't people realise we're supposed to be in the midst of an economic slump?

I value three semi-detached family homes that are right in the middle of the main school catchment areas. They are all about £325,000 to £390,000 and I know they will sell in an instant because the schools here are excellent - as is the transport into London.


Once the early morning tinnitus has passed, I get a chance to chat to one of my negotiators who is concerned that she hasn't had a response from a potentially valuable applicant called "Mr Duckberry" (she should have smelt a rat when she first heard that) who is selling a property in our area and wants to upsize. Eventually, after leaving repeated messages on his mobile, we receive a call from our area manager asking us to stop calling his number. Who was behind this little joke?


I've been looking forward to today. I get to value a substantial property (more than 3,000 sq ft) next to a golf course in a popular location in Shirley. So few properties come up in this area that valuation is definitely more of an art than a science. The lady who owns the place is hospitable and listens politely but plays her cards close to her chest - and says she wants to know what I think.

The lady is "downsizing" and the house is large with further scope for development, so there are all sorts of imponderables in suggesting a suitable asking price. In the end I go with my instincts, and it's the right decision - we go to the market at £1.25 million.


I am off to meet a charming woman who wishes to sell her retirement flat but doesn't want to let the other residents know that she is leaving. I arrive realising that I stand out rather more than usual (given that I'm neither aged over 70 nor wearing a white coat).

With the Mission Impossible theme playing in my head, I press the buzzer. As I tiptoe past the common room I realise that my shoes squeak. I must navigate two long corridors like this, then stand in a very slow lift. But the lady is ready with tea and biscuits and we have a very productive meeting.


Today I accompany a woman who wants to look around some properties in our area. She brings her two young children with her and while their mother strolls thoughtfully around the houses and their gardens, the darlings run riot. It's all I can do to stop them crashing into the owners' glass and china collections. At the end, astonishingly, I hear her complimenting them on their good behaviour as she packs them into a people carrier. I drive off in the opposite direction, my heart still racing.

The afternoon is spent with a vendor discussing double-height extensions and loft conversions, and the merits of extending one's way out of a recession. However, recession or not, this has been a productive week for us and the diary is packed with appointments and valuations for the one to come.

Stephan Mouzouri is manager at the West Wickham office of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward

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