The property market’s seasonal ebb and flow in prime central London is usually quite predictable, with summer holiday time very quiet in Fulham. This summer is different, however.
We have been kept very busy as we’ve been instructed on a new boutique-style development of flats called The Landau, on the former site of one of London’s largest horse-drawn carriage depots.
North End Road is definitely gentrifying and the days of stumbling from pawn shop to third-rate fast-food chain, open from nine to five — that’s 9pm to 5am — in this part of SW6 are definitely numbered.
Settled at my desk with a strong coffee, the phone rings. It’s a “What’s my property worth now please?” sort of call and I’m initially doubtful that the caller has any real intention of selling.
But how wrong I am. I’m invited out to see a ground- and lower ground-floor flat, supposedly uninhabited since only 2012. The mould foaming from every windowsill and the source of the Nile running through the bathroom suggests rapid decline due to cataclysmic drain failure.
Nevertheless, I’m excited. Today’s market for unmodernised properties is a phenomenon. With more damp proofers/basement diggers/decorators/party wall surveyors than you can shake a stick at, the rise of the hobby-developer is impossible to miss.
So much so that it rewards this dark, damp block of Stilton with the same price tag you would have found on a four-bedroom family house a mere five years ago.
It’s the turn of a new colleague in lettings to generate ripples of laughter across the office. Lettings is a fast-paced world and our fresh recruit is riding the crest of a wave, having had a few good deals. She is making a loud phone call involving lots of emphatic arm waving.
We are in the middle of an office refurbishment and, momentarily unaware of the wet paint, she swipes a lick of it right off on to her white summer dress. Since the colour scheme could fittingly be called “Tangerine Sunset”, she now looks like Jackson Pollock has made a tribute print down one side of her outfit. Poor thing.
The first person through the office door this morning is a client brimming with excitement from their exchange of contracts yesterday. The “Thank you so much,” is accompanied by a bottle of bubbly and it’s a nice reminder that in today’s world of e-commerce and the ability to sell almost anything online, from used toothbrushes to gold-plated dustbins, our clients genuinely recognise the part we play in selling their houses.
After a meal deal supermarket lunch and a few tours of some one- and two-bedroom flats, I make a final call to the solicitors to check they are keeping to their promises on a few sales before close.
I am struggling to fight the feeling of mild sleep deprivation this morning and, no, for once it is not my fault. Following a perfectly innocent — but late — dinner last night, my deep sleep was interrupted by the unmistakable work-mobile ring tone at about one o’clock this morning. It wasn’t a computer telling me I have been ripped off by a bank so who could it be?
It was a client... let’s just say a jolly client, who was confused by the number of keys on their keyring. Aware that he knows we share a postcode, I dashed through town to find said client stabbing at the door with a Yale key when clearly a Chubb was required. Just two minutes later, he was crawling up the stairs red-faced and I was on my way back home on my scooter. Today, I’m wondering whether my good deed will be remembered.
- Charlie Russell is a negotiator with Strutt & Parker in Fulham (020 7731 7100).