Diary of an estate agent: Covent Garden

A Covent Garden estate agent searches for student accommodation on a multimillion-pound budget and gets ready to launch luxury converted apartments in the former offices of Harry Potter's first publishers
Diary of an estate agent
© Weef
The week starts very well — a meeting with some overseas buyers to view the beautiful new development directly on the Piazza, The Russell, currently being marketed by us. Next door to the Royal Opera House, the views across Covent Garden are some of the best in the West End, and possibly the world.

During the viewing, I manage to maintain a poker face when it is revealed that the multimillion-pound budget available is to purchase “student accommodation” for the buyers’ daughter who is studying at the LSE. I doubt this kitchen will be seeing beans on toast…

We finally exchange contracts on a flat in Broad Court, and it is a triumph of negotiation that both the vendor and the purchaser are happy.

The flat is in a great central Covent Garden location, so was very sought-after. We had three bids over the asking price, which is becoming increasingly common. This exchange is especially poignant as our lovely client has lived in the same building for more than 50 years. It’s fascinating to talk with her about how Covent Garden has evolved over the years, from the demise of Bow Street magistrates’ court to the revival of the opera house.

She also mentioned EA Shaw’s constant presence in the area from the day she moved in — we’ve been in the same part of Bow Street since 1899. Interestingly, she says the area is now friendlier and more vibrant than ever before.

The Covent Garden team joins forces with our West End colleagues today to preview one of our new developments. The Hop House on Bedfordbury will be launched in the next few weeks, so we walk the site to get a feel for the space. Due for completion in the middle of next year, building work has not yet commenced. However, we are receiving off-plan offers already for a number of the units.

Our client, Dukelease, has a great track record in Covent Garden, having completed a number of successful schemes over the past few years — and this one looks to be another winner, even before we’ve gone to market.

Walking back through Covent Garden, we say hello to a number of locals; a few of the team pop into Earls on Endell Street for the area’s best bacon sarnie — an essential to keep midweek energy levels up, and an opportunity for a chat with the owner about the previous night’s football results.

A lovely morning in sunny Soho. I take the team to look around a newly completed development on Soho Square, where the finishing touches are being added before we officially launch the building. Our client has transformed the former publishing offices into five stunning lateral apartments. It’s where JK Rowling first published the Harry Potter books, so we’re sure a bit of the magic will rub off on the flats.

Soho Square is such an exciting and vibrant part of town and this building is the first residential development on the square in over 200 years, so we’re confident these homes will be snapped up.

On the way back to base we try our best to ignore the fortunate ones sunning themselves in the square, but it’s ice creams all round once we get back to the office.

Friday is usually the busiest day of the week and today is no exception. Last-minute viewing requests, desperate exchange deadlines and one of the most pleasant aspects of the job: the key handover for completions.Add a flight to Bangkok into the mix for an exciting development presentation and pre-launch and, all in all, it’s a good day.

I just have to finalise my presentation and talk, translate some key words into Thai, head to the dry cleaners and find my way to Heathrow… now, where did I leave my passport?

David Smith is a senior sales negotiator at EA Shaw's Covent Garden office (020 7420 3087).

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