Diary of an estate agent

Our eager-beaver agent hopes a two-year-old's love of fish will swing a sale, gets into hot water over a deal and watches a winner take all
Diary of an estate agent cartoon
© Merrily Harpur (harpur.org)

Monday


Fantastic, it's Monday morning! No, seriously, I've been doing this job for more than 15 years and can honestly say that I never get Monday-morning blues. This either means I'm very lucky or completely unhinged.

I'm eager to see whether my second viewing at a lovely house has resulted in an offer. There is the most amazing tropical fish tank built into the kitchen wall, which my applicants' two-year old found totally mesmerising, so my fingers are crossed that this will swing their decision in favour of this one.

I organise a "tour" of six three-bedroom properties for this afternoon. It starts to rain just as my applicant arrives for her viewings - typical. We both get absolutely soaked, the traffic is appalling and it's impossible to find any free parking meters. The good news is that she places an acceptable offer on the first flat, I avoided getting a parking ticket and my suede boots aren't ruined - happiness all round.

Tuesday


This morning I go straight to a valuation of a two-bedroom flat. The landlord is already marketing it with a couple of other agents but they've had no luck, so it doesn't take me long to convince him that we are the agent to use.

He was impressed that we take their commission fees in accordance with how the rent is paid and not annually in advance. This means that we are far more eager to chase any late rent payments and, if the tenant gives notice, we don't owe the landlord any money.

I have a third viewing on a three-bedroom family house (£1,000 a week) and am hoping that an offer comes forward. It's a difficult one to let, mainly due to the less than immaculate finish. At the end of last year we let a beautifully presented house, same size, same street, for £2,400 a week. Just goes to show that you reap what you sow.

Wednesday


My mobile rings at 7.30am. Before I pick up, I try to guess who in my family might have died during the night, but, phew, it's my lovely applicant placing an offer on the "fish tank" house. He sensibly offers a healthy amount and can pay a year's rent upfront, which should secure it for him. Yesterday's third viewing comes to fruition with an offer. The condition is that there is enough hot water to run three baths in succession.

My determination to get this offer through spurs me in to action. I go around to the house, crank up the hot water and turn on the taps. Three hot baths later (I didn't actually get in), I report back to the landlord and tenant that all is well. I vow not to have a bath for three days to make up for all the water I wasted.

Thursday


Big excitement. We have two interested parties in a house we are marketing for £6,000 a week. The office is like a dealing room and the bids go up and up throughout the day until one party admits defeat and the victor signs on the dotted line at £6,500 a week. A fantastic result.

Friday


My colleague has an offer on the two-bedroom flat we took on on Tuesday. I meet another applicant there, tell her there is a close-to-asking-price offer on it and she offers the full asking price. Nothing like a little competition!

Finally, I show four places to a couple who say they have £2,500 a week to spend. It transpires that they really intend to spend more like £1,800. The husband (who works for a bank) tells me that landlords are desperate for tenants and properties are going for way under asking prices, etc. The phrase "Don't try to teach your grandmother to suck eggs" springs to mind!

Caroline Watson is associate partner at Strutt & Parker (020 7589 9966).

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