Diary of an estate agent: Chelsea

A west London estate agent brightens up the office with light boxes and tries to sell a property for a couple in the middle of an acrimonious divorce
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Diary of an estate agent
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Today I am conducting a valuation of a stunning Regency property in the heart of Belgravia that has been owned by the same family since 1970. It was a house but has been converted into apartments, with the owners living in one of them, and it retains many original features including a beautiful central staircase.

I am amazed to discover the family paid less than £300,000 to acquire the place — especially when our valuation indicates a current market value in excess of £20 million.

We are marketing a flat as a probate sale on the Fulham Road and we’ve had more than 40 viewings in 72 hours. After receiving multiple offers we are instructed by the executors to go to sealed bids on Thursday. With a guide price of offers in excess of £1.5 million, it will be interesting to see the final price we can agree. With autumn upon us, one of our staff who is a keen follower of holistic therapies suggests we purchase light boxes to improve the mood in the office. With them installed this afternoon the branch seems much brighter, and visitors to our shop are very complimentary about them.

I go along with a colleague to a large ground- and lower-floor flat we manage near Eaton Square to conduct our annual property inspection. The tenant is allowed to keep a single dog there, more specifically, a chihuahua. So we are slightly surprised to be greeted by a pack of dogs totalling no fewer than five. An interesting conversation ensues, during which the tenant agrees that the number of pets does in fact exceed the terms of the contract. However, we agree to approach the landlord on the tenant’s behalf to seek an alteration to accommodate these extra flat-sharers.

On my return to the office, everyone is very excited to hear that the business manager of a Seventies super-group who viewed a house we are marketing in the region of £8 million is interested in making an offer. Fingers crossed we can agree the deal.

We are currently dealing with a particularly unpleasant sale involving an acrimonious divorce. Every time we take someone to view the house we have to contact both the husband and the wife, and their respective solicitors. With both parties still living at the property, it doesn’t make for the best atmosphere during viewings, especially when all of the items inside the place are covered in Post-it notes to highlight who they belong to. I hope we get a sale soon so that this unhappy couple are able at last to move on with their lives.

On a much more positive note, we generate seven offers on the apartment for the probate sale, finally agreeing a deal at nearly £100,000 above the asking price.

It’s time for my weekly, early morning dilemma. It’s my turn to provide the office snack, and I ponder whether to buy cookies, doughnuts or pretzels. In the end I opt for pretzels.

There’s a lunchtime emergency concerning another agent showing one of our flats. The applicants ask to view the roof of the building and the fire door shuts, leaving them and the agent stranded outside. They’ve got our keys, which means we can’t get into the property to rescue them. After much sweet-talking of one of the neighbours, we manage to get access and free a rather windswept and dishevelled group of individuals after approximately an hour.

I finish the day with a valuation of a converted houseboat moored at Cadogan Pier in Chelsea which has seen service as a Dunkirk Little Ship.

Tom Dogger is a director of Winkworth in Knightsbridge, Chelsea and Belgravia (020 7589 6616).

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