Diary of an estate agent

Cherry-picking the best deal for a vendor, buying a washing machine to clinch a sale and letting sleeping dogs lie fill a Kensington agent’s week
Diary of an estate agent cartoon

Monday


This morning I take a call from a nervous buyer who wants to pull out of the purchase of an immaculate house in Campden Street, Kensington. His surveyor’s report suggests that, although he has been unable to inspect the roof because he forgot to take a ladder (!) he suspects £20,000 will be needed to replace it. The buyer says the deal’s off if we don’t accept this reduction. I book the use of a "cherry picker" so his surveyor can be hauled on to the roof for a proper look - where he finds it to be watertight.

We launch a beautiful house in Gordon Place today, conducting 14 viewings by close of play. The owner’s dog remains motionless in its basket all day long. One worried would-be buyer doesn’t want the house... but offers to take the dog to the vet.

Tuesday


Arrive, rainsoaked, on my scooter for a meeting at the Chelsea office. London figures are strong and, despite the crunch, we’re on course to meet our own optimistic targets. Property prices have been on the rise all year and the Fulham office reports they’re only five per cent off the peak of summer 2007. A remarkable turnaround.

After lunch I meet our photographer at a top-floor flat in the heart of W8. The vendor nags me to step on to the fire escape to prove she can see the London Eye on a clear day. I hate heights but do as I’m told and feel sick the moment I step out into the fresh air. I squint quickly, say she’s right and beat a hasty retreat.

Wednesday


An immaculately dressed French lady registered today for a large family house in Kensington. Buoyed by a favourable exchange rate, I think she was optimistic that her £7 million budget would ensure a healthy choice and the swift acquisition of a property in a leafy address, close to the park. While she sat in the office, bizarrely allowing her beloved dachshund to yap away, I made a dozen calls, scoured our internet and produced just three possibilities. We fixed viewings for two - I hope she leaves the dog at home when we next meet.

Twelve more viewings today at the house with the comatose dog. Demand at the moment is staggering. We sold a completely unmodernised house three weeks ago where we had 81 viewings in one week.

Thursday


The day of reckoning for the roof in Campden Street. I arrive at the house and before the surveyor arrives, I take a trip up in the cherry picker with the vendor. Thankfully, I’m feeling none of the vertigo of Tuesday. Once 30ft up we nod approvingly at the condition of the roof. The client is resolved not to budge an inch on price so we wait patiently as the surveyor makes his own assessment. By mid-afternoon I am able to tell the client the surveyor is happy and the buyer will proceed at the agreed price. We exchange contracts just before 6pm.

Friday


Take instructions on a big house in Notting Hill and agree to prepare the brochure while the vendor is abroad. I meet the photographer at the house, find the lawn hasn’t been cut for months, ransack the shed for the mower and do it myself. In the afternoon my French buyer arrives at the office for the viewings, with husband, two young children and dachshund. An hour later and my left ear is ringing from the yapping but we’ve pinpointed a potential house and we arrange a second viewing.

The sale of a maisonette in Gledhow Gardens is oddly in peril. The seller wants to keep his washing machine but the buyer is threatening to pull out unless it is left behind. I’ve never heard anything more ridiculous, it’s a £1.4 million flat! My colleague drives the buyer to Peter Jones and buys him a machine. The sale goes through.

Miles Meacock is an associate partner in sales at Strutt & Parker, Kensington (020 7938 3666)

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