Diary of an estate agent

Our agent shows the rich how to get richer, gets caught up in a plot and meets an old friend from the volcanic ash crisis
Diary of an estate agent cartoon
© Merrily Harpur (harpur.org)


I'm at my desk by 8am checking my emails. I'm optimistic that after several weeks of groundwork, this week should see the results I want and I'm looking for a certain email. Great, instructions on a lovely maisonette off Kensington Church Street are confirmed. I have been advising this client on the furnishing, redecoration and preparation for his flat to maximise the sale price.

Ten o'clock and it's the first of a number of back-to-back appointments on a lovely house we have launched at just over £3 million. Already offers are in but we want the best we can get for these charming clients. I spend the late afternoon showing family houses in the £6 million to £7 million range to a well-heeled buyer. He is a real character, always arrives by cab, which waits with the meter running for 90 minutes while we visit three houses nearby. As we walk from house to house the cab follows at a discreet distance.


I have been showing a lady around numerous properties over the past few months. She has always been very secretive about where she lives and is clearly wealthy. I get a call from her asking me to go to see her at her house on the Phillimore Estate.

The house is stunning. I sit down and go through all the reasons why she should choose us to market her house. But she says she has already chosen us because we impressed her when she tried us out in her guise as a buyer. This is a fabulous house and great reward for the way we work.


I meet our new client at the Phillimore house with our photographer. The client is a little uneasy and asks if some of her artwork can be left out of the photos. I realise there are two works by Lowry. Paintings can be slightly blurred so as to protect their true identity and she visibly relaxes. We are able to shoot the rooms to show the house off to its best potential.

I spend the afternoon with a buyer I know well. We have just been instructed on a flat in Campden Hill Court that has previously sat on the market with two other agents. It is looking tired and unloved. This property is perfect for him. The poor state of repair appeals to him as he likes the idea of doing a refurbishment, and adding value. Both he and his wife like the flat and initiate proceedings with an attractive opening offer. Negotiations continue at a rapid pace between my buyer in London and client in Dubai and I agree terms in a car while heading out to Chertsey to go waterskiing at 8.30pm.


Word is out about the instruction on the Phillimore Estate. The Kensington market is hot. Buyers don't want to wait for the official launch and want to be the first through the door. The general lack of quality homes at the moment is incredible. I received a call from an old buyer of mine last night tipping me off on a house next door to him - in probably one of the best areas in Kensington - coming on to the market imminently.

He gave me the contact details of the owner who I call, explaining that we had been involved in more transactions in this street than any other agent over the past 11 years. We have transacted eight out of the most recent 12 houses on this street. We get instructed, which is fabulous news. It is an extremely saleable house with a great garden.


After 28 viewings in four days we agree terms this morning on the maisonette off Kensington Church Street in excess of the asking price. My client is delighted. I finalise the brochure and advertising for the Phillimore house and book in several key buyers.

This evening I have been invited for supper with a client whose house I sold seven years ago. A few months ago, when the "volcanic ash cloud" shut down European airports, I had bumped into this client as the plane we were all on was preparing to land at Barcelona airport as we tried to get home. Both his family and mine had been stranded in Singapore on the way back from Australia. We ended up hiring a minibus and driving from Barcelona to London. It is an incredibly small world.

James Gow is a partner at the Kensington office of Strutt & Parker (020 7938 3666)

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