Diary of an estate agent

Sealed-bid wars, tempests and floods may all be in a day's work for one Belgravia agent. But when a lift got stuck it was a job for firefighters
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© Merrily Harpur


It’s a good Monday morning and though I can’t believe it is already November we have had a ton of tenants moving in during October, more than any month in 2008 and 2009.

School half-term is over and families are back in central London hoping to make a house move before the Christmas season begins; for most that leaves only another two/three weeks.

Spent most of the afternoon at our large development of a dozen apartments on Dover Street and organising furnishing quotes and viewings at our three stunning one-bedroom flats in Cadogan Square.


Testing Tuesday. Two groups of people wanted the family house in Herbert Crescent going for £6,000 a week, so we had to go to sealed bids.

The two parties interested viewed it on the same day and their move in dates and other terms are as good as each other, they are both lovely Americans so it’s going to be a hard choice for my landlord.

The flat covers more than 5,000sq ft and with only two weeks between offer and move-in date I’m glad we fully manage the house and have organised a clean, inventory report and box hedges to be replaced by the end of the week - whoever wins the bidding war.


Waterfall Wednesday. My colleague, Gemma had a shock when she turned up to do a viewing at a lovely family house we had just taken on in Belgravia. When she left the office my last words were: “Let me know your thoughts, I think it’s a super house which has been newly refurbished and will certainly rent quickly.”

Ten minutes later I receive an SOS call, “Quick, come round and run.” As we opened the door it sounded like Niagra falls, there was water pouring from the top through to the basement with five inches of surface water to wade through; I knew there was a reason I kept a pair of wellies in the back of my car.

It was hard breaking the news to the landlord who had spent so much money finishing the house. Fortunately she had opted for full management and the house will be back in shape and on the market as soon as it has dried out.


Shopaholic Thursday. We have two valuations this morning, one newly modernised two bedroom flat, ideal for a shopaholic, with a view of Harrods and the other a charming little Mews house in Belgravia.

I have the perfect tenant looking for the first flat; Harrods is her favourite shop and her number one criteria is that she could nip out without getting wet. The owner is an investment landlord looking to find a tenant as quickly as possible so he is delighted that I have someone to show that afternoon. Sure enough she loved the flat, the location and offers the asking rent. Happy landlord and tenant.


Fireman Rescue Friday. We were going to see a penthouse flat with the landlord’s representative, her daughter, my colleague Nina and I. We got in a lift for three, but the landlord’s rep said: “Oh don’t worry, sturdy old lift this one it’ll be fine”, only it came to a grinding halt between the 3rd & 4th floor.

The lift was tiny and we were crammed in like battery chickens, the lift alarm rang like a tired old doorbell. We began to shout. Finally it was mobiles out and we called the fire brigade who had to climb to the top of the building and winch us up inch by inch and force the doors open.

An hour went by and our landlord’s rep was about to have a panic attack at the thought of oxygen running out when the doors were prised apart. We did eventually get into the flat and got the instruction.

Sophie McCarter is head of London Lettings at Strutt & Parker in Belgravia (020 7938 3666)

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