Diary of an estate agent: Clapham

Owner put their abdication-era stamp on this time capsule cottage.
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I start the week with a valuation on a small two-bedroom cottage owned by the same family since the Forties on the Shaftesbury Estate in Battersea. As I enter the house, it’s like stepping back in history. Stamps from the time of Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936 are discovered and every ornament and mirror is from around that era.
I have just sold a nearby renovated cottage for £825,000, so I value this one at offers in the region of £500,000, taking into account the renovation work required, and I expect it to go to sealed bids. Unmodernised properties are incredibly popular as every buyer wants to put their own ideas and design into their new home.
After 70 viewings during a two-hour open day on Saturday for a two-bedroom flat on the Hyde Farm Estate which directly overlooks Tooting Bec Common, we receive 28 sealed bids today. It’s a blank canvas, with everything stripped out ready for a buyer. The asking price is £485,000 and the vendor accepts the highest bid at £577,000.
We then have the horrible task of  telling the other 27 parties, all lovely young couples, that they haven’t been successful — but the best part of the job is breaking the news to the “winning”  buyers.
A musician views a house in Clapham called The Old Printworks. There’s the potential to buy the gatehouse, too — ideal for a recording studio — for a combined price of £2.95 million. I’ll wait to hear if he is interested.
I speak to the owners of a property in Garfield Road in Clapham. She’s French, and he is English. They bought their home just over three years ago having previously rented in the road, but they have always had their hearts set on the end-of-terrace house next door to them — which has now come on to the market, so they are selling up to move to the home of their dreams.
I’ve never seen such attachment to one street, but the big draw of Garfield Road is Wix Primary School. This couple send their two children there and it’s the feeder for South Kensington’s prestigious French Lycée.
I receive a call from one of Tuesday’s bidders who didn’t manage to secure the Hyde Farm Estate flat. He offers £610,000 to outbid the lucky buyer. However, the client decides to stick with the first offer out of principle. 
I also have another drama to deal with, this time involving someone buying a two-bedroom flat through us for £750,000. With the market moving on at such a pace, and the seller having been asked to pay an extra £40,000 on a property over in Fulham, we then have to go back to our buyer to ask them to offer £775,000. So the pressure is on to meet the deadline — but the buyer agrees.
I have a problem with a house that reminds me — somewhat unfortunately — of a game of Jenga.
The surveyor discovers that two chimney breasts below the loft space have been removed, with the support now being two pieces of plywood. Therefore, if you were to remove a piece, the whole lot would come tumbling down — not an ideal state of affairs.
The vendors, after having a discussion with me, agree to make a £2,500 reduction in the asking price to remedy the matter. Until we informed them they were unaware of the problem, as when they bought their house the loft was full of junk and the surveyor was unable properly to access the space.
To finish off the week in style, we receive a case of Bollinger champagne from a very happy buyer who has just collected the keys to the house of their dreams — which is a relief, as it has been a tricky transaction from start to finish.
  • Stephanie Mant is an associate at Cluttons, Clapham (020 7223 7574).

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