Diary of an estate agent: Blackheath

We’re selling allsorts — sweet shop included. Plus new-builds and period properties to buyers who want to be close to the City and good schools.
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On my way in to the office this morning, I stop for a coffee at a newcomer to the village, Gail’s Bakery. Does this mean Blackheath has arrived?
A youngish couple with a child are the week’s first walk-ins. They’ve realised they can sell their Shad Thames flat and buy a house in Blackheath for a similar price. They are typical of the buyers we see. Blackheath is often compared with Dulwich, but its property market is more like Clapham. City workers move here because of its proximity to work, great transport links and much lower prices than areas a similar distance from the City, such as Islington.
The first of two developers drops by today to ask about marketing his latest project — an upside down house with a copper roof in Kidbrooke Gardens for £1.175 million. Blackheath and Greenwich are loved for their historic properties and we’ve just taken on a former Victorian sweet shop, still with its original shop façade, for £1.295 million, which is attracting a lot of attention. But the area is also becoming home to some striking new-builds, often with lower ground levels for a home cinema or extra living space.
While basements are being outlawed in some other boroughs, it seems Blackheath is just latching on. In the past, people haven’t had to dig down as the area still offered great value for money and they could buy a sufficiently large house. But prices have risen considerably and owners feel they’d rather add 1,000 sq ft by digging down — even at a cost of £300 a square foot — than move. And they know they’ll recoup their money.
Our major meeting of the week and we’re brainstorming ideas for our next marketing campaign. The last one involved hiding Cluttons ducks on the heath for kids to find and win, along with ice cream from our neighbour, Black Vanilla. We’re thinking marathon-themed for the next one.

A vendor calls to ask if we can help sell their house in Knockholt in Kent. That’s something I see happening increasingly, as an agent’s location isn’t as important any more, now that people house-hunt online.
There’s a huge crossover between Kent and Blackheath. Many families start here, fighting over houses next to the village’s outstanding primary schools, then head to Kent for the grammar schools.
I go to view a property on the private Cator Estate — which can mean anything from Sixties Span properties, which you can still buy for under £800,000 for a 1,100 sq ft house, to 5,000 sq ft mansions for £4 million. It’s typical of Blackheath’s tremendous variance in types of property. 
Next I head to a valuation in Lewisham. It’s a Victorian terrace house that is owned by an investment company and has been refurbished after being let out for several years. The security-conscious owner turns up 45 minutes late and finds every internal door individually locked. This wouldn’t be so bad, but half way round his key snaps in one of the many locks, bringing our visit to an abrupt end.
I speak to a vendor today who is thinking twice about selling in the light of the stamp duty changes as he’s reluctant to pay a higher tax for his next purchase. But the bracket he’s looking at, around £1.1 to £1.2 million, is an unusual sweet spot where he’ll still be paying less stamp duty than previously. It was a similar situation in 2012 when the seven per cent stamp duty bracket came in for £2 million-plus properties. Many people said they weren’t going to pay it — then they came to accept it’s just part of the purchase price.
  • Wallace Jaffray is sales manager at Cluttons in Blackheath (020 7647 7820; wallace.jaffray@cluttons.com)

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