© Merrily Harpur (harpur.org)
The market seems to be caught up with post-election fervour and there are still plenty of buyers willing to compete for good properties. We have definitely seen an upward shift in recent months and about 40 per cent of the sales in this office, so far this year, have exceeded the asking price. I just hope that this much-feared double-dip recession doesn’t set the clock back - or come about at all.
I hand-deliver a sealed bid letter to another agent’s office in the afternoon, on behalf of a long-standing client. Having advised him throughout his search, I pray his bid is good enough to secure the house. Having agreed to show a flat to a banker at 7pm, I’m kept waiting half an hour but it’s worth the wait as he makes an offer there and then. Even better news, I learn that our sealed bid was successful.
We’re taking masses of new enquiries at the moment so diaries are full of viewings. We launch a two-bedroom flat today which has a large, west-facing terrace, and last week I advised the client to plant some tubs to add a bit of colour. My client took my advice a bit too far and the terrace looks like an entry for the Chelsea Flower Show, plus there’s a handwritten note on a table asking me to water the plants.
I wouldn’t have minded but the hose lashes out as I turn the tap on and manages to soak the lower left leg of my suit. I conduct the viewing standing on one leg and I think I get away with it.
We’re about to launch another wonderful house in Notting Hill, where the vendor has clearly spent a fortune on the refurbishment. In order to be able to navigate our way around the property, the team meets the owner after lunch to go through the intricacies of the sound and light systems.
In the afternoon I show a young mother with a baby around a lovely house in Kensington on a garden square. The owner’s youngest daughter is particularly keen that I should play hide and seek with her and I spend most of the viewing saying “boo” around every corner. Even though this is slightly unprofessional behaviour, our game might just have done the trick as the buyer loved the house and said she could see herself bringing up her children there.
A day of problems. My first viewing of the day is at a lovely terraced house in Kensington. The house is in excellent condition but it has been empty for at least a year and there are a few cobwebs dotted around. The viewing goes surprisingly well, at least, until the buyer calls me over to the back door, shrieking in horror and pointing to a dead rat lying on the terrace. I make light of it, bid the buyer farewell and call pest control.
The next problem is somewhat trickier to resolve. I have a Grade II-listed house under offer just off Kensington Church Street and the Italian buyer is worried about the noise of the church bells nearby. We agree to meet at the house at 6pm. It’s Thursday and it’s the bellringers’ weekly rehearsal. The buyers decide to pull out, saying they couldn’t live with such a “dreadful” noise. Despite the fact that the house is on a quiet street, away from traffic and a quarter of a mile from the church.
A buyer has pulled out of the purchase of a two-bedroom flat but we waste no time in re-agreeing terms with the next buyer who had originally expressed interest at only a fractionally lower price. A lucky escape. In the afternoon I show a big family house to a Russian lady.
The house is immaculate with white carpets, and it’s a shoes-off policy or we’re asked to wear blue plastic shoe covers. As I finish putting on the shoe covers I see the Russian buyer striding up the stairs, shoeless, but wearing one of the shoe covers over her head. Despite this ominous start to the viewing, it seems to go well and we arrange to meet again tomorrow morning.
Miles Meacock is a partner in the Kensington office of Strutt & Parker (020 7938 3666)