Diary of an estate agent

Our Hammersmith agent is left shell-shocked by a roomful of tortoises, a mugger who ruins a sale and a body in a bath filled with blood-red ink

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We’re seriously busy at what is normally a quiet time of year, and I begin my week by meeting parents looking for a home for their daughter while she’s at university in London.

We’re in a flat admiring the view out of the bay window in the master bedroom when the father asks: "So the crime rate must be pretty low around here?" Just as he says it, a scuffle outside attracts our attention. We watch in horror as a hoodie mugs a woman on the pavement right in front of us. We rush down to console the poor victim, but it’s the buyers who have gone into shock. I’ve a feeling that hoodie has stolen my sale, too.




Today I revisit a property I valued a few months ago. The owner collects tortoises and when I went there the first time, they were all over the house like some surreal film shot. I advised him then that, as not everyone shares his passion, it might be better for him to house them elsewhere while he tries to sell the place.

Now, months later, I am invited back to revalue. He has spent the autumn adding an enormous conservatory extension to house the creatures. But conservatory or not, I don’t think this sale is going to be easy.






Mid-afternoon and I’m back in the office for a strong coffee after an extraordinary viewing this morning. The property’s peculiar vendor has crammed the house with military memorabilia and covered all the windows with blankets - making the place horribly smelly and dark. I’m relieved that he is not going to be in for the viewing and I proceed to lead my buyers around the grimy house.

The light is broken in the bathroom and as our eyes adjust to the darkness we leap back in horror on finding what appears to be a dead body in the bathtub. When I screw up my courage and look closer I can see that it is actually just a strategically placed jacket and jeans, all stained with red ink. Why is it there? I have no idea but I’m convinced the vendor has put it there for us to find.






Oh dear, following Tuesday’s tortoise trial, I have another vendor who has sort of taken my advice. A few months ago I valued his small, dark basement flat which had been divided up into too many small rooms. I suggested that he could increase the size of the living room by removing a stud wall or, at the very least, putting up a large mirror.

When I went back the vendor was brimming with pride. He had covered three walls with floor-to-ceiling mirrors. It was like sitting in a Debenhams changing room. When I tentatively implied it wasn’t quite the effect we needed and might even reduce the price, he indignantly hustled me out. Now, six months later, he has accepted an offer... £30,000 below the asking price.






Still no news from Monday’s crime-shocked parents - I think that’s that. And it’s not the only plundered sale. In our office one of my negotiators relays her disastrous viewing last night when she showed some buyers around a house which is currently being let by an overly helpful tenant who took over the viewing - which can happen.

It would have been fine if said tenant hadn’t been absolutely steaming drunk. She slurred her way through all the "potentishhhul" in the property before staggering backwards into a door which opened under the impact. The next moment she was flat on the floor. The buyers weren’t impressed and my poor negotiator was mortified. Hearing about it, we all feel in need of a well-earned trip to the pub... for an orange juice.

Ben Williams is sales manager at the Hammersmith office of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward (020 8563 9633)





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