New year, fresh start. It is also our anniversary - a year since we opened the doors to our flagship office in the newly named area of “West Chelsea” (Fulham to you). We seem to have started a trend - two other big names are opening in the next few months. The best form of flattery, I hear...
Indeed, this area is not only highly desirable to live in but also to do business. We hold our first sales meeting of the year and it takes a while to get our brains on track - lots of caffeine and cookies. After quickly dusting the cobwebs away, we are set up for a proactive day of trading.
I chase up an old client about his unmodernised house and have the same response as last year - “Let me think about it.” The problem is that if he sells it, what is he going to buy? I think of a few goodies to show him but his mind is set and my powers of persuasion have yet to work.
Unmodernised would be a good trade for an immaculate, ready-to-move-into flat. I’ve got just the one in Milliner House, done by top-notch developers. To other business, and we finally exchange on a mews house sold off-market for more than £5million, a great result for my client.
We are asked in to see a magnificent studio house owned by a famous artist’s family, used as a gallery as well as a pied-à-terre when they are in London. This is why I love this job. I have been doing it for 25 years now and just when you think you’ve seen everything, the area throws you an imposing double-fronted detached house that you never knew existed.
I come back to find my secretary has gone Awol. Thirty minutes later, she returns flustered with a dress from Amanda Wakeley. Asked why she felt the need to jump up in the middle of the afternoon to buy a dress, she replies it wasn’t for her but for a client who couldn’t get out to pick it up for a charity event that evening.
I receive a call from a team member. He and a colleague have arrived early to switch on the lights and open the door leading on to communal gardens to a gorgeous flat we are selling. They have shut the door behind them to wait for the prospective buyers. However, the keys to hand do not open the front door but are in fact the keys to the back door - and the only option is to find a way into the gardens.
As he waits at the entrance to the gardens, he sees a taxi pull up and the passengers being greeted by his colleague. Time is running out so, checking the coast is clear, he climbs the cast-iron fence and sprints across the gardens. He must look pretty dodgy but as he’s wearing a suit and tie, no one bats an eyelid. Up the stairs and through the kitchen, he opens the door to greet his colleague, who is just coming to the end of small talk with the buyers. In they go, with the buyers not suspecting a thing. Mission Impossible completed.
I am excited to take on the perfect flat for a client whose property is currently under offer through us. When I call to arrange for her to see it, she says she won’t be going out as she was confronted earlier by a very large man with her computer under his arm, jumping out of the French doors and over the security gate, which she had apparently left open.
She says police reviewed the security tape on site and picked up the man and the computer an hour later. I ask how they found him so easily and it was his brightly coloured top that gave him away - he stood out like a Belisha beacon.
The day ends on a high as we finally agree terms on a gorgeous garden flat that seems to have been jinxed over the past six months. My thoughts return to the unmodernised house and how I can persuade the owner to view the immaculate apartment. Some things have to be conquered...
Simon Rose is a partner at Strutt & Parker's West Chelsea office (020 7373 1010)