It’s a beautiful morning in Chelsea as I stroll the short distance from my flat in Smith Street to our office in Cadogan Street. I spend the morning at the coal face, fielding calls and preparing brochures for some super new instructions — a house in Carlyle Square at £8.75 million and one in Royal Avenue at £6.95 million.
I absolutely love Chelsea and know its streets like the back of my hand, having been a broker here since the Eighties. It has a rich history, stunning architecture and cosmopolitan residents, and it hasn’t lost any of the village-y “soul” which makes it so special. Its beating heart is Chelsea Green with its newsagent, fishmonger, greengrocer, pub, boutiques, jewellers and hairdresser.
Strutt & Parker is the sole UK affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, an invitation-only club of the best estate agents from around the world — which means my role as partner has taken on a dual element.
I now spend half of my time meeting colleagues from 138 affiliate businesses from the world over, travelling abroad to Christie’s lectures and auctions. I am so lucky — my job has the magical combination of property and fine art, and I couldn’t think of a better way to combine my two great interests.
I start today with breakfast in the George with our super affiliate from Rio, who is visiting London. We discuss how best to highlight Rio’s property boom ahead of the World Cup.
The day starts with a tour of eight houses with a very elegant lady who was recently divorced from a City bigwig. He hasn’t behaved well, and I listen with absorbed fascination to her story of betrayal. A Hollywood blockbuster would pale by comparison.
We are looking at houses between £7 million and £10 million overlooking garden squares. Ideally, she needs a self-contained flat in the basement for her hugely untidy teenage son who plays the drums and loves Deep Purple and Chelsea FC manager José Mourinho in equal measure.
Interestingly, 53 per cent of buyers last year from my Chelsea office were English, a combination of internet millionaires, successful corporate lawyers and inherited wealth. Perhaps it’s not too surprising, as the English have always had a love affair with Chelsea, whereas the international community needs convincing about our five- and six-storey houses with no lifts.
We host a press briefing over afternoon tea at our Hill Street head office in Mayfair alongside Christie’s International Real Estate to launch our new Luxury Defined report. I’m one of the speakers and despite feeling nervous, I enjoy the chance to discuss our fast-changing property market, in the UK and abroad. It’s a very high-calibre group of international journalists, so I’m pleased I did my homework.
I prepare for next week’s trip to Barcelona, where five of us will attend the Christie’s International Real Estate global conference. I know we have a treat in store, as one of the speakers is the unbelievably charismatic Daniel Libeskind, the renowned and revered architect who is rebuilding the World Trade Centre site in New York.
Off to lunch with a stunning and very nice supermodel who is deciding where to buy. She finds Chelsea “too obvious”, Knightsbridge “too posh”, Kensington “too family”, Notting Hill “too media”, Mayfair “too rarefied” and Fulham “too far away”. Clearly I have my work cut out with this one. Lunch for her is a lettuce leaf and I’m still hungry after a Caesar salad.
This afternoon, one of my colleagues gets stuck for 45 minutes in the lift of a building in Cadogan Gardens with a claustrophobic Greek buyer. We call in the fire brigade, who manage to winch the ancient lift into action and our colleague and his buyer to safety. The lady is last seen, composed again, causing a sensation on the street in her Dior outfit. There’s never a dull moment.
- Lulu Egerton is a partner at Strutt & Parker in Chelsea (020 7225 3866).