Diary of an Estate Agent

A millionaire who's terrified of heights but wants a penthouse, a vendor who won't make herself scare and birthday donuts fill up our agent's week
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© Merrily Harpur (harpur.org)


The morning starts with a bang - we have been instructed on an enormous and very rare penthouse overlooking Tower Bridge. It has taken one call a week for the last 52 weeks to get instructed on this gem. Who says estate agents aren’t tenacious?

The property has three separate roof terraces and windows lining the whole of one wall of the open-plan reception rooms. For a few moments I contemplate what it would be like to live in such a fantastic riverside apartment, but I am soon dragged back to reality with the news that we already have a viewing booked in. A great start for us and the vendor, though not so good for my wistful dream.


An exciting new scheme of apartments in the Barbican is being released today and I am taking round an affluent businessman. As soon as we arrive, everything that could go wrong does. Lift doesn’t work, security code has changed - and the flat has just been reserved.

Safe to say the businessman is not best pleased, but he is more understanding than some, probably because he only works round the corner. I am much more annoyed than he is. I apologise profusely and we part ways. Ranting and raving, I head back to the agency via the Mayor’s office and think I’m seeing things: there are people in suits riding camels. Turns out it is a publicity stunt by an airline launching a service to Egypt, but it doesn’t help to make my day feel any more normal.


Today we are agreeing a sale from an open house we held in Bermondsey Street. It was held over the weekend and went very well, although it took some persuading beforehand to get the vendor to understand that she couldn’t be present.

She suggested quietly sitting out of the way in the bedroom - "no" - in the garden - "no" again - and even mentioned she could sit in her car, parked outside... creepy and "no". Eventually, she realised it would be best for all if she went out for the day, but I still had my eyes peeled for any suspicious-looking women lurking in the street in sunglasses.

The open house method of sales has proven to be very successful for our office and we plan to do more going into the autumn months.


We register a buyer today who has recently sold his company for a cool £90 million, as you do. Shame he is looking to spend only £4 million.

Luckily we have a few top-end properties in the City and I’m quickly on the phone to him to discuss his options. His requests are standard for a high-profile purchaser - good square footage, en-suite bathrooms, parking availability, great views of the City, concierge service.

He has also stated that although he wants to be high up and must have a terrace, he will never go out there himself as he is deathly scared of heights. I’d like to say I’m surprised but being in this job means that I very rarely am. I reluctantly suggest the riverside penthouse and a colleague arranges for him to see it this afternoon.


It’s my birthday, I’m 38, and it’s the first year that I’ve managed to get into work here in one piece on my big day. Previous attempts ended in road accidents and concussion. I end up having a rather lovely day, with copious amounts of doughnuts and the kind gift of a "power shirt" from the team.

To top off the week, we agree on three sales and three exchanges, and two of my team are promoted. At lunchtime yesterday I noticed that the free More London film festival is in full flow, so I suggest a team night out and belated birthday celebration for next week. Popcorn can’t cost much these days.

Carl Davenport is associate director at Chesterton Humberts’ Tower Bridge office (020 7357 7999; chestertonhumberts.com)

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