Diary of an estate agent

Franco-German relations, avoiding 'The Beast' in the bedroom and unwanted water features keep Chelsea agent's phone off the hook
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Diary of an estate agent cartoon
© Merrily Harpur (harpur.org)
January brings a flurry of internet enquiries and our first walk-in customer off Sloane Street. By the end of the day a buyer who agreed a sale on a one-bedroom flat in Mayfair three days before Christmas has been gazumped by a new buyer from Germany.

Much of the rest of my time is taken up with frantic calls between the seller, buyer and their respective solicitors on a house in Pimlico where exchange is imminent.

The day starts with a London Division meeting complete with a motivational talk. I have a viewing at a new property in Cadogan Square. The housekeeper says she will let me in but the owner ends the call advising “beware of The Beast”. The applicant and I are duly let in and we cautiously tread our way through the rooms ending up in the master bedroom where “The Beast” is discovered - a quietly dozing Jack Russell puppy.

The small Mayfair flat attracts yet more interest and there is now a third potential purchaser. Through careful negotiation we end up with a very happy client as the property is now being sold, for a considerably higher price, to the German gentleman with a Frenchman waiting eagerly in the wings as a solid back-up buyer.

I have a viewing at a mews house that was vacated by the owners before Christmas so I head into a Baltic Belgravia with keys in hand. Luckily I arrive early as I see signs of life inside. My first thought is squatters have moved in so I ring the client, who tells me a family member has taken refuge for the week while he looks for a flat.

I head in to be confronted with all the chaos of a teenager’s bedroom, so I get stuck into a tidy-up operation before the viewing, which is a success and results in an offer later in the day.

It begins to snow and the developer’s architect for the Pimlico house is stranded somewhere in Hertfordshire with crucial information needing to be released.

Shortly after arriving at work I receive a call from a concerned resident of a flat in Mayfair. We are selling the flat above her’s and she tells me she has spent the night afraid that her ceiling was about to collapse - she could hear water flowing in the flat and loud dripping.

It did sound fairly scary and as our client lives abroad I went to meet a plumber. Our inspection proved we were all mystified but thankfully wrong. As yet there are no reports of unwelcome water features in the neighbour’s drawing room.

I have a meeting with a young developer who wants our advice on his first major renovation project in Knightsbridge. The key is to create a stylish flat which has universal appeal without being too neutral. It’s a no to buckets of white paint and wall-to-wall beige carpet and a yes to hand-picked walnut floors, unique design features and the best fittings and equipment money can buy.

It’s mid-afternoon and everyone involved wants the Pimlico house to exchange. I get anxious at the thought that one of the solicitors may have to leave early to struggle out of London through the snow.

At 5.20pm with the battery on my mobile starting to run low after endless phone calls I get the news we’ve been waiting for. The buyer is excited, the seller is delighted and I am relieved - hopefully every week will end this well.

Will Stebbing is part of the team at Strutt & Parker’s Sloane Street office (020 7235 9959).

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