After enjoying a lovely weekend with friends, it’s back to the office. First job to negotiate is the 1.3-second dash from the front door to the alarm, which I successfully switch off before it wakes the entire neighbourhood. Job done, I treat myself to a double espresso.
Being the only French person working for Strutt & Parker in London certainly has its advantages — a couple of my compatriots have asked me to help them in their property search in the capital. They would like to pay as little rent as possible for a home of at least 3,000sq ft on the doorstep of South Kensington’s French school, the Lycée Français. Not such an easy task.
A client has made an offer on a beautiful six-bedroom house in one of the most sought-after squares in Chelsea. The terms seem great and I am confident that after negotiations, the offer will be acceptable. The only minor issue is that the house doesn’t come with a garage and the offer is subject to me finding my client a good parking space nearby for his new Ferrari.
One viewing today that promises to be a challenge involves clients who do not want to rent a property that has previously been lived in. When I call them to discuss the request, they also confirm that they want everything in their new home to be brand-new — from the carpets to the curtains.
My morning is spent buried in paperwork, so I am looking forward to a tour this afternoon of some of the best houses in Kensington and Chelsea. I offer to pick up the clients, a couple, in my new Mini to take them to the first viewing.
To my despair, the husband is about 6ft 5in tall and struggles to get into my car. It is a warm day and, after eventually folding himself into the seat, he decides he needs to take off his jacket and jumps out into the road without warning. Luckily, the passing traffic misses him. After a gazillion viewings, we finally find a house they really like.
I have managed to find a space for the Ferrari and have a happy new tenant. The space is in the same garage where I park. All I can do is pray that his space is not next to mine — let’s just say that parking is not my forte.
My next appointment is with a charming woman who, of course, is French. We have already seen a couple of properties together, and the place we are viewing today is also on the books of another agent, who unfortunately has mixed up her keys.
The other agent goes off to get the right ones, saying she will be back in 10 minutes. Nearly 45 minutes pass and still no sign of the agent. I’m stuck in a tiny corridor with the woman and her two young children, who are both crying, and their nanny.
After hearing the woman’s stories of how her “adorable” young son recently cut up all his daddy’s ties and “created” a modern art painting with her nail polish on a new carpet, I am pleased when the other agent finally returns. With time against us, we quickly check over the house. The woman says it is too small — which might just be in the landlord’s favour.
It’s nearly time to go and have fun — but I would love to finish the week on a high. A big offer on a property has been pending for three days, but I am struggling to make contact with the landlord.
He has replied a few times to my emails by saying “yes” or “no” to an issue that needs a full answer. Communication is not his strong point. I phone him in the morning and he spends half the conversation having a chat with someone else in the background.
I call him again in the afternoon. He asks me to kindly call him back as he is taking his dog for a walk. Perseverance is key. By the end of the day he reluctantly agrees to the terms I have prepared, subject to me finding out the cost of the furniture in his rented house.
It’s going to be a long afternoon of searching through furniture company websites. Fingers crossed, I will get the offer accepted on Monday.
- Sabaya Verger is a lettings negotiator at Strutt & Parker in Chelsea (020 7373 1010).