Diary of an estate agent

Our charity-driven agent from Knightsbridge gets locked in a garage but comes out with a shiny bike and a big donation to Help for Heroes
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Diary of an estate agent cartoon
© Merrily Harpur


Late last Friday, our vendor at a large house in Knightsbridge refused what would by most sellers’ standards be a very acceptable offer at just three per cent less than the asking price. Many vendors are agreeing sales at 10 per cent less to achieve sales.

Anyway, Monday is here and I have news for my client that the purchaser has agreed to increase to the asking price, but must have the furniture (worth about £400,000) thrown in. The problem is that the vendor is in Thailand, with the purchaser in Eastern Europe and timing calls to catch them all in a good mood isn’t easy.


Today’s treat is agreeing a Belgravia town house at just over £5 million for an Australian couple who recently returned to Sydney, to our clients who are now on holiday in the States. The morning brings a series of negotiations and an agreement to proceed.

I can’t quite believe that while showing a £10.5  million Belgravia home, we get locked in the garage. Fortunately the daughter is upstairs somewhere, and it just takes a phone call to get us out. Anyway, next month I am doing a
350-mile charity bike ride to Arnhem in Holland for Help for Heroes but my old road bike has started to fall apart during training.

While imprisoned in the garage I notice a shiny, rarely used bike. Trying to make light of the garage situation with the owner when reporting back to him, I ask if I may borrow his bike for my very long ride. Not only does he say yes, but generously says he will donate a handsome amount to the charity, agreeing that we all need to do more for the injured troops returning from operations abroad.


Nina and Gemma in lettings have just managed a real coup - letting a house for £5,000 per week for a client who’d had it on the market to sell with some other agents since September last year. I have never had a team that our clients compliment so much. I finish the day with a run, trying to knock off some pounds for extra svelteness on the bike seat, from my office on Sloane Street back to Liverpool Street station.


There is a visibly different scene on Sloane Street during Ramadan, as many of the Middle Eastern families who travel every year to London to escape the summer heat of their home countries have flown back to fast, and to celebrate. The past month has seen an increasing show of wealth through their much-discussed “blingmobile” super-cars — it really is an extraordinary show of extravagance that is great for those who like their toys.

Surely the show next year can’t get any better - so they could just spend any extra money on a great bit of London real estate. I’m sure that I can find them something that would live up to their bling expectations. The Bank of England is talking today of a UK economic wobble, which shows the disparity between the real world and the world around Knightsbridge - where there’s a penthouse selling for £140 million.


Travelling daily past the Stratford Olympics site shows that there is real progress there and that 2012 will be an incredible year for London and the rest of the UK. Yes, there are bound to be hiccups and travel chaos, but that is created by any event of this magnitude anywhere in the world.

What is great about the London Olympics is that it has created jobs and focus for businesses and young sportsmen through the last few torrid years, and gives hope for a resurgence in positivity in the lead-up to the Games. We expect prime property in London to remain a top attraction for international buyers throughout 2012 and beyond.

Charlie Willis runs the Strutt & Parker Knightsbridge sales and lettings office. He can be sponsored at bmycharity.com/V2/CharlieWillis, donating much-needed money for Help for Heroes.

Also, he is taking part in a Strutt & Parker national fundraising challenge next month for the Wooden Spoon charity, for young people disadvantaged physically, mentally or socially. Visit justgiving.com/Charlie-Willis-London-Residential.

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