Ah, the Monday morning bicycle ride into work. That feeling of freshness as a new week begins and thoughts turn to what lies ahead. This Monday morning has an extra whiff of freshness to it though; it’s the first one back having been away for a week. The usual anticipation of what the first phone call to excited buyers will entail (or not, since Fulham seems dominated by unemotional buy-to-let investors at the moment) mutates to an anticipation of which one-bedroom flat or six-bedroom house has been launched to the market in my absence.
I walk into the morning meeting a smidgen late to find a development just across from our office under discussion. This development has been eagerly awaited by all of us for months. It’s the work of an ingenious man who seized the opportunity to purchase a pub on the Fulham Road and transform it into a block of eight one-bedroom flats, each a perfect pied-à-terre (the most gruesome expression in the estate agent’s armoury but quite appropriate nonetheless).
Having listened to the updates and been introduced to two new members of the Fulham team, a quick tour of the new stock is on the cards. A couple of two-bedroom flats, three houses and an interesting new build top off our current list. After checking in with deals under offer and anxious applicants, bring on Tuesday.
With floor plans and photos of this new stock burnt on my mind, a telesales-like attack by phone is needed, only it’s impossible since the phone never stops ringing from the other direction. New instructions always make the office systems sing and buzz, but the properties we’ve just launched have really caught people’s attention.
Houses close to the £1 million mark are fast becoming an endangered species on our patch. We launched one a month and a half ago, only for it to be snapped up at the asking price within a week. This week we’ve launched three freehold houses under £1 million and one a fraction above. Need I say more?
Chatting to buyers and booking in viewings soaks up the rest of the day and a quick welcome back drink with the team awaits.
Midweek already! Blimey. The morning is spent settling a few difficulties with current sales and confirming appointments with tenants keen to be present for every viewing. Let the viewings commence. On the whole, they’re positive and it doesn’t take long for the first offer to come through. Then another. Then another. It’s an absolute classic case study of how quickly the prime central London market can move. Blink and you miss it.
With the client not easily available and one offer coming from a buyer in an opposing time zone, no deal can be tied up on the spot and everyone booked in to see the house over the next few days is given a fair chance to view. Wednesday also brings the opportunity to catch up with the rest of the office, essential in maintaining the strong bond that generates our generally upbeat and productive atmosphere.
This morning starts with a telling-off from tenants for traipsing around their house with my shoes on. The dirty shagpile and toothpaste-crusted taps didn’t quite read “please take off your shoes” to me, but their wish is our command.
Next up is a classic error one only makes once. I arrive to let a building surveyor into a house and BANG, the door swings open after a straight forward twist of the key, then “Beeeeep!” That unmistakable sound spurts from the alarm system behind the door.
This alarm is an addition since my last visit so, needless to say, I don’t know the code and a warm flush seeps through my face, made worse by the surveyor spilling out the words: “We’re about to look silly.” We did. For 15 minutes. It was crushing.
It’s Friday. Phew. This is simply a case of fattening up for the weekend and ensuring the offers from Wednesday afternoon are still there on Monday morning. Let’s wait and see...
Charlie Russell is a negotiator with Strutt & Parker in Fulham (020 7731 7100)